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Orca pod strikes British boat off Spain’s coast

A sailing boat was severely damaged by a pod of killer whales off southern Spain’s coast, marking yet another incident in a series of orca attacks on vessels this year.

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The incident took place early Thursday, with a group of orcas damaging the rudder and hull of the Mustique, a British-flagged boat en route to Gibraltar. The boat’s crew of four contacted Spanish authorities, prompting the deployment of a rapid-response vessel and a helicopter for assistance, the local maritime rescue service confirmed.

The Mustique was subsequently towed to Barbate’s port in Cadiz province for necessary repairs.

The incident adds to the growing tally of orca interactions with small vessels in the region. This month alone has witnessed at least 20 such encounters in the Strait of Gibraltar, according to the research group GTOA. In 2022, they reported a staggering 207 interactions.

Earlier this month, a sailing yacht, Alboran Champagne, was left to sink after being struck by three orcas.

Spanish regulations urge ships to leave an area promptly upon observing unusual orca behavior and mandate that any orca interactions must be reported to authorities. Despite their nickname, killer whales are endangered members of the dolphin family, capable of reaching lengths of up to eight meters and weighing six tonnes as adults.

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