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Now we finally know why killer whales attack boats

Hundreds of interactions have occurred over the years in the waters of the Strait of Gibraltar between killer whales and boats. Based on recorded reports and observations, scientists claim to know why

@Birgittasilverhelm – Orca Attack Reports/Facebook

Killer whales, giant marine mammals, seem to be obsessed with boats, specifically, sailboats. Over the years, more and more interactions of this type have been recorded, leading researchers to question the reason behind this behavior.

The hypotheses put forward by the researchers do not rule out the response of animals to heavy traffic affecting sea routes, but the real motive appears to be another. This was stated by marine biologist Alex Zerbini from the International Fisheries Commission (IWC).International Whaling Commission.

In a symposium held in Madrid in early 2024, Dr. Zerbini It seems he has found the final answer Which gives us an idea of ​​how this phenomenon develops over time.

According to the expert, killer whales will interest boaters. Therefore, their behavior should be read as… Game. This has also been suggested by other scholars. In the relationship Zerbini and colleagues, presented in Madrid, explain the possible reasons for these interactions:

“This behavior has more in common with trends seen elsewhere and appears to be related to play or socializing, perhaps encouraged by the recent increase in prey abundance and availability, which reduces time needed to forage and negative interactions with fisheries,” the document reads.

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@ R. De Stefanis via IWC

For this reason, the use of the term “aggression” is inappropriate. Citing previous studies, the report claims that behavior may have evolved in relation to marine resources, but not only.

It has also been noted that A number of young people In the pod That is, killer whale populations have grown. Since younger specimens are naturally more curious, it is likely that they have retained their behavior as adults.

The researchers noted that a certain level of playful interactions began earlier with young people, around 2017.

These events occurred according to the latest data available to the scientific community At least 673 interactions From 2020. Foundation Orca Atlantica Business Group GTOA has developed an app to report interactions, and recommends that those venturing out to sea carefully follow instructions provided by experts.

Tracking interactions and reporting populations allows us to mitigate human-human conflict, ensuring greater protection for killer whales. Iberian killer whales in particular need this, as they are currently at risk of extinction.

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