UPDATE: Guardia Civil Identifies Crew Of Sailboat That Fired ‘Shots’ At Protected Orcas In Strait Of Gibraltar

Image of killer whales.

Image of killer whales. Credit: Robert Pittman/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

UPDATE: Sunday, August 20 at 8:50 pm

THE Guardia Civil has identified the crew members who were on board a boat that allegedly fired what was possibly some form of pyrotechnics at a pod of orcas in an area of water near the Strait of Gibraltar last Friday 18.

After a video of the incident subsequently went viral on social networks, an investigation was launched, as reported in a statement this Sunday 20 by the force.

Seprona officers and members of the Provincial Maritime Service quickly established that the boat in question was a catamaran bound for a port in Almería.

The boat was found in the El Ejido port of Almerimar

After initiating a monitoring operation on ports in the province, the vessel was located in the El Ejido port of Almerimar. Its occupants were then identified as a crew which was sailing around the world.

The boat was searched for pyrotechnics, explosives, or any other type of elements that could have been similar to those seen ‘fired’ at the orcas in the video footage, although ‘none were found’.

According to the authorities, the crew: ‘acknowledged the facts and showed full collaboration’. They also: ‘Provided all the relevant documentation and registration of the ship’.

Seprona initiated a criminal investigation to see if the facts could constitute a crime under the Penal Code. It also investigated an administrative offence against the captain of the vessel and the person who would have allegedly used the possible pyrotechnic device to scare away the protected species, as reported by malagahoy.es.

A post appeared on Facebook

In a post in the Facebook group ‘Orca Attack Reports‘ on August 19, a message, presumably from the vessel involved in the incident, read: ‘Hi all, here is our report. We, 69 feet catamaran sailed rather south of the Gibraltar channel from Tanger marina yesterday August 18′.

‘It was about 1330 we were called by VHF from a nearby boat, which we found it was Orca watching boat saying orcas are nearby you’, it continued.

The message added: ‘Shortly 5 to 6 orcas came from the stern side. They came so close to us immediately and some of them started submerging under the stern. At that instant one or two of them hitting starboard’s rudder. We turned on only port engine’.

‘To prevent aggravation we counteracted them with fireworks. Soon after they lost interest and went away. After we docked in the marina in south Spain, a crew checked the rudders and bottom. Luckily, we found no problems’, the post concluded.


Friday, August 18 at 6:35 pm

THE occupants of a sailboat caught on video firing something to scare off a pod of killer whales have been denounced by a Spanish animal rights organisation.

The incident reportedly took place on Thursday afternoon, August 17, in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the coast of Tarifa in Cadiz province.

A video that was sent to PACMA – a group that defends the rights of animals, the environment and people – showed what happened. The organisation subsequently posted the footage on its X (formerly Twitter) account.

In the text accompanying the video, PACMA assured that it intended to report the incident to the relevant authorities, in the hope of action being taken.

The attack was captured on video by people who were on board a nearby tourist whale-watching vessel. This same boat had apparently been informed over the radio by the sailboat that it was in close proximity to a group of orcas, according to 20minutos.es.

When the cetaceans approached the boat, its occupants reacted by firing several ‘shots’ to scare them off. What these ‘shots’ were, or the means of firing them, have not yet been determined. It is not clear whether the animals first attacked the vessel or not.

However, the video images clearly captured the moment in which the ‘shots’ began to be ‘fired’ and the crew of the tourist ship can be heard yelling at them to stop doing it. It has to be noted that whatever was being ‘fired’ did not appear to have been aimed directly at the orcas and looked like an attempt to simply scare them away.

PACMA pointed out that orcas are listed as a vulnerable species

In a statement, Pacma condemned the events and pointed out that orcas are listed as a vulnerable species in the Spanish Catalog of Threatened Species (CEEA).

As a result, any action taken with the purpose of killing, capturing, harming or bothering them is absolutely prohibited and can lead to consequences.

Several incidents have occurred in the same region this year

There have been numerous episodes of interactions between killer whales and sailboats recorded in and around the Strait in recent months.

Their reason for attacking boats is the subject of several open projects as investigators attempt to uncover the motives behind this behaviour.

A pod of orcas attacked vessels that were competing in the prestigious Ocean Race off the coast of Gibraltar earlier this summer.

There were no injuries or material damage to the boats, although the killer whales reportedly put all their efforts into hitting, pushing, ramming, and biting the rudders of the boats for around 20 minutes.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com