Creation’s Revenge? (Orca Attacks on Boats)

Too close for comfort!

Is a mature female orca teaching young killer whales to attack yachts and fishing boats? A lot of people think so (

In the waters off the Strait of Gibraltar, orcas have attacked three boats this year, sinking two and badly damaging another. People are getting scared. Since 2022 there have been 29 attacks reported.

The first reports were in 2020; before that, none. (See

Researchers have named the whales’ ringleader “Gladis” and speculated she’s acting out after suffering some kind of traumatic encounter with a boat.

Question: Do the whales see some critical difference between the boats and the people in them? No one has been eaten yet, or had a limb bitten off.

Orcas have been observed to break up ice floes to dump seals into the water so they can be eaten. No humans have been eaten, although the photographer on R.F. Scott’s expedition had a narrow escape; but he didn’t know whether the whales were more interested in him or in some penguins that were in the water. His main interest was in getting away.

Are these whales capable of learning from the experiences of others, and of forming long-range, purposeful plans?

We still have a lot to learn.