The Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge will launch a study to analyze the interaction between orcas and vessels in Spanish waters, to minimize impacts and ensure safety.
The study, included in the Life Intermares project and coordinated by the Biodiversity Foundation, will be carried out by the Coordinator for the Study of Marine Mammals (CEMMA), which will analyze recent episodes of interaction between orcas and manned vessels, especially sailboats, in the waters. from Galicia (north of mainland Spain) and the Strait of Gibraltar (southeast of mainland Spain).
Also in Portugal it has been common to observe some aggressive behavior of orcas off the coast. O last case occurred just this week, in Setúbal, after a group attacked a fishing vessel.
According to sources from the Spanish ministry, cited by Efe, the objective is “to investigate the possible causes of these clashes and define the most opportune measures to minimize these episodes and their consequences”.
The Ministry recalls that the orcas’ diet is centered on red tuna and that for this reason they have always been linked to this fishing sector.
Since 2020, the episodes of approaching and attacking cetaceans against the hull and rudder of medium-sized sailboats have been increasing, causing material damage that in 15% of cases impede navigation, without ever detecting an aggressive attitude of the orcas in relation to to humans.
Killer whales are part of the List of Wild Species under Special Protection Regime and the population of the Gulf of Cadiz and the Strait of Gibraltar is included in the category of ‘Vulnerable’ within the Spanish Catalog of Endangered Species, so they benefit from measures of protection.
In 2017, the Orca Conservation Plan was approved, which defines the priority lines of work to improve the conservation of the species in Spanish waters.