Atlantic killer whales train their cubs to attack boats and yachts
Live Science has reported an alarming trend near the Iberian Peninsula and in the Strait of Gibraltar – local killer whales are increasingly targeting small vessels. So far not a single vessel has been sunk and no one has been injured, but scientists are sounding the alarm because they cannot explain the reasons for this behavior. Among fishermen, however, the legend of the White Gladys’ revenge is popular.
According to Alfredo Lopez Fernandez, a biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal, the White Gladys is one of the region’s oldest dominant killer whales. Some time ago she was badly injured by a collision with a sailboat, after which she underwent changes in behavior. She began to attack ships of similar size – but she has no purpose, she never brought the attack to its logical conclusion.
The problem is that the other orcas began to adopt the behavior of the White Gladys, as well as to train youngsters to attack passing boats. And then the scientists had a crisis – they can not explain what is happening. If in the case of the White Gladys her behavior can be explained by the stress she experienced, then what is the point of teaching the young orcas to ram boats? And there is no doubt that adults purposely teach cubs – there are dozens of evidences.
Sailors say that orcas treat the process very responsibly and try to hit the boats as hard as they can, but avoid injuries. There is an understanding, on the verge of intuition, that the orcas have spread a new pattern of boat encounter behavior in their community that should keep them out of the way of what happened to the White Gladys. It is most reminiscent of sparring in a ring, with opponents striking each other in order to prevent their own defeat, but also without wanting to destroy the opponent. It is not yet clear where this will lead in the end.
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