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 analyse recent episodes of interaction between orcas and manned vessels, especially sailboats, in the waters of Galicia (northern mainland Spain) and the Strait of Gibraltar (southeast mainland Spain).
According to Ministry sources, cited by EFE, the objective is “to investigate the possible causes of these clashes and define the most opportune measures to minimise these episodes and their consequences”.
The Ministry recalls that the orcas' diet is focused 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 percent of cases impede navigation, without ever detecting an aggressive attitude of the orcas in relation to humans.
Orcas also occasionally travel along the Algarve coast, it is thought that this is due to the annual tuna migration between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Over the past two years there have been a number of sightings of the mammals and of pods in Algarve waters and reports of the orcas “attacking” boats.
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.