THE INDEPENDENT 27 MAY 2023 - GLADIS THE KILLER WHALE AND HER GANG OF ORCAS, OUT FOR REVENGE ON THE YACHTS OF GIBRALTAR
A British sailor’s boat was the latest victim in a spate of orca attacks on vessels near Gibraltar, as an expert suggested a “traumatised” killer whale may be inadvertently teaching others to target them.
There have been 20 incidents this month alone between the highly social apex predators and small vessels sailing in the
Gibraltar, according to the Atlantic Orca Working Group
(GTOA), with dozens of orca attacks on ships recorded on Spanish and Portuguese coasts this year.
In the early hours of Thursday, a group of orcas broke the rudder and pierced the hull of a boat after ramming into the Mustique on its way to Gibraltar, prompting its crew of four to contact Spanish authorities for help, a spokesperson for the maritime rescue service said.
The service deployed a rapid-response vessel and a helicopter carrying a bilge pump to assist the 20-metre (66ft) vessel, which was sailing under a British flag, a spokesperson for the maritime rescue service said. The Mustique was towed to the port of Barbate, in the province of Cadiz, for repairs.
Posting footage of the ordeal on Instagram, British sailor April Boyes, aged 31, said: “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 hull 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.”
Earlier in May, the sailing yacht Alboran Champagne suffered a similar impact from three orcas half a nautical mile off Barbate. The boat could not be towed as it was completely flooded and was left adrift to sink.
The boat’s captain, Werner Schaufelberger, told the German magazine Yacht that he saw the two smaller whales imitating the ramming tactic of the larger
orca, believed to be a matriarch named “White Gladis”.
“The little ones shook the rudder at the back while the big one repeatedly backed up and rammed the ship with full force from the side,” he said. “The two little orcas copied the bigger one’s technique and, with a slight run-up, came darting towards the boat. Mainly on the rudder, but also the keel.”
Just two days previously, on 2 May, six orcas rammed the hull of a Bavaria 46 cruiser yacht in an encounter lasting an hour near Tangier, reportedly causing thousands of pounds of damage.
Business consultant Janet Morris and photographer Stephen Bidwell, a couple from
Cambridgeshire, both aged 58, were on board for a sailing course when they heard a shout of
“We were sitting ducks,” Ms Morris told The
Daily Telegraph, while Mr Bidwell said: “I kept reminding myself we had a 22-tonne boat made of
steel, but seeing three of them coming at once, quickly and at pace with their fins out of the water, was daunting.”
“A clearly larger matriarch was definitely around and was almost supervising,” he added, speculating that it was White
The first orca encounter in the area occurred in May 2020, since when more than 500 have been recorded, according to the GTOA research group.
Most interactions have been harmless, with orcas only touching an estimated one in every 100 boats passing through the area, according to biologist Alfredo Lopez Fernandez, of the GTOA and University of
Aveiro, who said that three vessels have sunk so far.
Experts believe White Gladis may have suffered a “critical moment of agony”, such as colliding with a boat or
becoming entrapped during illegal
fishing, which altered her behaviour in a “defensive” fashion.
“That traumatised orca is the one that started this behaviour of physical contact with boats,” Dr Lopez Fernandez told Live Science.
“We do not interpret that the orcas are teaching the young, although the behaviour has spread to the young vertically, simply by imitation, and later horizontally among them, because they consider it something important in their lives,” he said.
The behaviour has baffled scientists, with some initially suggesting it could be related to the harmful
scarcity of food facing the mammals, or the disruptive resumption of business-as-usual nautical activities in the wake of the pandemic, while others have suggested it could be playful behaviour.
Although known as killer
whales, endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to eight metres and weigh up to six tonnes as adults.
way you look at it, we have been living above our means, with
superheated economies out for a free lunch, now with huge national
debts. It is the same with the ocean, dumping waste and not paying for
it, is coming back to haunt us, with falling fish stocks and plastic
laden beaches. Kulo-Luna is a fictional humpback whale, that like White
Gladis, is fighting back. Thankfully, making friends with the concerned
conservationist, John Storm.
described Atlantis as an island larger than Asia Minor and Libya combined, and situated just beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the Strait of Gibraltar).
Atlantis was mythologized to have been founded by Poseidon, the Greek god of the seas. He made his son Atlas the king and named the city after him, as well as the ocean around it, hence the Atlantic Ocean.
According to legend, Atlantis was populated by an advanced society which perished after the island subcontinent was submerged beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere past the
Pillars of Hercules (assumed to be the Strait of Gibraltar). The name Atlantis is derived from the ancient Greek term for "island of Atlas."
trapped in discarded fishing gear, Kulo-Luna is not long for this world, her
wound tainting the water with blood that is a calling card to all sharks in
her location. Budding artists can see
how a professional works as part of a team to produce a finished work from a
concept, by clicking on the picture. Apart from Bond, Influences include Jaws,
Heart Of The Sea, Tarzan
and National Treasure.
he can rescue an injured humpback whale from fish netting, John
Storm has to take on four hungry sharks.
Fortunately he is
a resourceful ocean
adventurer. He beats off the attackers, then calms the giant whale
they were circling,
who is injured and bleeding badly. Then the ocean conservationist's mission begins.
The KULO-LUNA draft script is now published, as is CLEOPATRA THE MUMMY, both
available as Final Draft screenplays. TREASURE ISLAND: BLACKBEARD'S CURSE
& PIRATES GOLD, and OPERATION NEPTUNE: THE LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS, are
presently being developed, aiming for 2024, and 2025 completion
(respectively) - though could be accelerated, with and for identified