Killer whales are ramming boats off the coast of Spain to avenge orca matriarch ... trends now
Killer whales which have been ramming and sinking boats off the coast of Spain may be doing so to avenge their matriarch after she was struck by fishermen, experts have said amid a spate of attacks.
Three boats have recently been sunk, with hundreds of coordinated attacks on vessels by the orca whales off the Iberian coast since 2020 according to reports.
British sailor April Boyes had her yacht wrecked during a night of terror this week, as a gang of killer whales continuously rammed into the vessel for over an hour off the coast of Gibraltar.
The orcas broke off her boat's rudder before they began to rip bits off the vessel and smash into it, causing water to flood in, and the four-member crew had to be rescued by the Spanish coastguard.
The attacks are thought to have been prompted by a 'critical moment of agony' suffered by group leader White Gladis, possibly either due to a collision with a boat or entanglement with a fishing line, scientists say.
The group of predators is seen surrounding the vessel off the coast of Gibraltar before repeatedly slamming into the yacht in an attack that destroyed the rudder and pierced the hull
British sailor April Boyes has told how she endured a night of terror after her yacht was wrecked by killer whales that continuously rammed into the vessel for over an hour off the coast of Spain
The trauma Gladis experienced could have caused the whale to become more aggressive, before her behaviour began to be mimicked by other whales, Marine biologist Alfredo Lopez Fernandez has said.
'That traumatized orca is the one that started this behavior of physical contact with the boat,' Mr Fernandez told Live Science.
'We do not interpret that the orcas are teaching the young, although the behavior has spread to the young vertically, simply by imitation, and later horizontally among them, because they consider it something important in their lives,' he added.
In a video shared by Ms Boyes, the group of predators can be seen surrounding the yacht off the coast of Gibraltar on Thursday.
Ms Boyes, 31, can be heard shakily saying: 'Jesus, oh my God,' as each thud causes more damage to the boat, eventually destroying the rudder and piercing the hull. 'It's like they are biting it apart,' the sailor says in the video.
In terrifying scenes, with the predators now invisible under the cover of darkness, the attacks became more frequent.
A video shared by April Boyes, 31, shows a group of orcas honing in on the yacht before attacking it with a heart-stopping thud, prompting one crew member to scream in terror
A desperate male crew member can be heard telling Spanish authorities: 'We need assistance immediately, we are sinking, we are sinking.'
Ms Boyes said of the terrifying ordeal: 'What started off as a seemingly unique encounter ended with orcas breaking off our rudder from the boat, then proceeding to tear bits off the boat for an hour.
'A huge hole in the gull meant we had water ingress to other parts of the boat and the engine room and I can honestly say it was a scary experience. We are all safe, I'm feeling grateful for the coastguard.'
The crew was rescued by the coastguard and the 66ft-long vessel, which was sailing under a British flag, was