Spanish Coastguard Bans Small Sailboats After Orcas Damage Yachts

FILE PHOTO: An orca speeds toward the beach to hunt sea lions in Argentina’s Patagonian area of Punta Norte, March 21, 2008. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Sailing enthusiasts are going to need a bigger boat if they want to sail off Spain’s northwestern tip after killer whales damaged yachts.

Several incidents involving orcas and small sailboats have been reported off the Galician shore near La Coruna since Aug. 19, the Transport Ministry said. No one was hurt.

On Wednesday it banned boats under 15 meters (49 ft) long from taking to sea for at least a week off a land segment of about 90 km (56 miles) between Cape Piorino Grande and Point Estacas de Bares.

The orcas have bumped the boats’ hulls and rudders, causing damage that in some cases has led to the coastguard having to tow boats back to shore. The ban could be extended if the cetaceans remain in the area.

Highly social orcas are spotted regularly off the Spanish shores in the Straits of Gibraltar and the Gulf of Cadiz in the south and off Galicia and Cantabria in the north.

They usually feed on fish, penguins and seals. An adult can measure up to eight meters and weigh up to six tonnes. In the wild, they are not known to attack humans.

SOURCE: Reuters