Off the coast of Spain and Portugal, between Galicia and the Strait of Gibraltar, a striking number of sailboats collided with killer whales this summer. Dozens of sailors reported that they were attacked by groups. Sometimes they were rammed for hours. Scientists were faced with a mystery, because this is abnormal behavior for the animals.
At first, many people thought that the killer whales were aggressive. Why else would they have rammed at least 40 boats this year? A group of scientists decided to do research and found that most incidents were caused by three young killer whales: Gladis White, Gladis Grey and Gladis Black.
Probably the three teenagers wanted to play with the boats, because they went for the helm of a ship, says scientist Ruth Esteban now to the BBC. “I think because it‘s a movable part of the ship,” she explains. “In some cases, they can run the whole boat with it. In some videos, you can see that the sailboat rotates almost 180 degrees.”
If they have the power to make something so big move, then they’re probably impressed by it, Esteban thinks. She understands that it was terrifying for people to experience. But she‘d rather not speak of an attack on the sailboats. The intention was not to attack the boats. “That’s why we call it an interaction.”