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Scientists appeal for reports of interactions with orcas

by Daria Blackwell 3 Aug 03:18 PDT
Scientists appeal for reports of interactions with orcas © Daria Blackwell

The Cruising Association has teamed up with Orca Iberica to collect information about interactions between boats and orcas, as well as about passages without encounters.

In CariƱo, the German sailboat Ragna with two crew members on board was brought in by Salvamento Maritimo after orcas disabled their rudder on the 29th of July 2022 some 11 miles north of Cabo Ortegal. Such interactions have been reported around the Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsula for several years now. In June 2022, the number of incidents reported had reached 200.

The most recent interactions and sightings of the animals have been reported as far north as the coast of Brittany. The interaction report received by the Cruising Association relates to an incident on the 28th of July approximately 75 miles due West of Brest on the tip of Brittany. As far as we are aware this is the farthest North of any interaction.

This new pattern of behaviour within a population of orcas that feed on and follow the migration of tuna exiting the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar and heading West and North around the Iberian Peninsula over a period of several months has been reported since 2020. Scientists are asking mariners who transit the coast to report on their passage whether or not they had any interactions with the animals. They want to collect data that will help identify the patterns of migration as well as the types of vessels that attract the orcas' attention.

There is an online reporting form with which mariners should familiarise themselves in advance so they can note the information being asked for at the time of the event. Mariners encountering orcas are being asked to notify the GT Orca Atlantica and fill in the CA report which is then forwarded to the scientists. Mariners who pass along the coast without encountering orcas are asked to report the safe passage to the CA. The reports can be viewed here.

GT Orca Atlantica maps interactions and have created a list of measures to take during an encounter. They also post a light system identifying the risk of interaction in a given zone at the current time.

The information is being provided to all mariners whether members of CA or not.

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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