Since 2020, interactions between orcas and vessels, mostly sailboats, have been recorded in the Strait of Gibraltar area.
The Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) prohibits, as of this Tuesday, maritime tourist vessels from actively approaching groups of orcas, in order to avoid serious consequences.
According to the ICNF, since 2020 interactions between orcas and vessels, mostly sailboats, have been recorded in the Strait of Gibraltar, Portuguese coast and Galicia (Spain).
“As the reasons for this recent and repetitive behavior towards the vessels are unknown, it is known that the initial interactions, conducted by a small group of juvenile killer whales, are currently carried out by a broader group of animals”, he explains.
In an announcement published on the ‘site’, the ICNF warns that, given the size of the adult animals (a maximum of eight to nine meters in length and three to five tons in weight), the more intense interaction of killer whales with semirigid or other types of smaller vessels, such as those used for whale watching, may have more serious consequences.
The institute determines that in cases where the orcas try to approach the vessels, these move away and that whenever the animals get close to the boats without the crew noticing, the vessel is stopped, leaving, however, the engine running, only resuming when the animals move away.
These prohibitions are covered by a decree-law aimed at conserving natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the territory of the European Union.
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All these prohibitions will be valid until the last day of the year.
According to data from the Grupo de Trabalho Orca Atlântica (GTOA) – a team of Spanish and Portuguese marine life researchers who study orcas near the Iberian Peninsula – more than 200 interactions between orcas and boats were recorded in 2022 on the Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain.