The latest in a series of attacks that have been taking place over the last couple of years in the Strait of Gibraltar has seen a yacht sunk by Orcas

A pod of orcas have attacked and sunk a 15m yacht in Moroccan waters in the Strait of Gibraltar, the latest in a series of attacks in the area, the Spanish maritime authorities reported.

Two crew members aboard the yacht Alboran Cognac sent out an SOS distress call on Sunday at 0900 local time (0700 GMT) when the pod of orcas attacked the rudder, the Spanish Coast Guard reported.

The crew sounded the alarm when the orca rammed the hull and rudder with one blow rupturing the hull, creating a serious situation.

The Moroccan maritime authorities instructed the Alboran Cognac crew to put on life jackets and activate their AIS (Automatic Identification System) as the boat started taking on water.

A coast guard helicopter was scrambled and a nearby tanker MT Lascaux diverted to pick up the crew from the stricken yacht. The yacht then later sank.

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Scientists have been monitoring a pod of Iberian orca, or killer whales, led by a female known as White Gladis, that have attacked yachts between the Iberian peninsula and the Strait of Gibraltar.

The group of orcas attacking yachts around the Iberian peninsula appears to number 13 juveniles and two adults – the other named Grey Gladis – out of a larger group of 39. The group is not always together, preferring smaller groups of 5-6 orcas.’

The orca interactions with boats appears to be linked to the migration of tuna exiting the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar and heading west and north around the Iberian Peninsula into the Bay of Biscay.

The Groupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica operates a traffic light information system on orca sightings. There are also two apps: GT Orca and Orcinus which give information. A Facebook page Orca Attack Reports gives information as does Orca Discussions on Telegram.

The Cruising Association has an orca information portal. It is urging all sailors to report interactions and safe passages at the portal:

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