A POD of orcas has attacked three yachts near the upmarket marina of Sotogrande in Spain’s Andalucia, causing more alarm among mariners.

The orcas – also called killer whales – bit at the rudders of the three yachts just a few kilometres from the Cadiz coast.

Scientists observed how they had shifted from the Straits of Gibraltar where they last attacked yachts to the Sotogrande coast.

But they are unsure if the latest strike was carried out by the same pod of killer whales as previous attacks near Barbate.

One of the damaged yachts was the Tom 28, a boat designed specifically for regattas.

Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco) has so far recommended boats steer clear of certain areas of ocean marked red on marine charts around Barbate.

These demarcated areas are normally warmer waters that attract the killer whales for breeding and rearing of young.

But these areas are far from the latest targets of the killer whales on the other side of Gibraltar.

Sotogrande lies to the east of the Rock while Barbate is about 150km to the west of it.

Authorities recommended mariners to sail closer to the coast, in waters where sonar marked the depth was 20 metres or less.

They have also tagged some of the orcas to be able to warn sailing boats in their area when they approach.

Even though British newspapers have reported the attacks were part of a revenge campaign by an orca, scientists said the reason is far simpler.

Lewis Stagnetto of the Nautilus Group based in Gibraltar said the the older orcas of the pod were just teaching the younger ones how to hunt.

“They are apex predators used to hunting huge tuna fish so they need to hone their skills to catch them,” he said on the group’s social media page.

“They’re not out there to get people so it is important to understand this.”


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