Salvamento Marítimo assisted a sailboat with four crew members on board early this morning after it suffered a water leak following a collision with a group of orcas in the Strait.
The vessel, a 20-meter long sailboat named "Mustique," alerted the Tarifa coordination center around 22:00 hours, according to sources from the rescue operation.
They explained that the sailboat was navigating in Tarifa waters, heading towards Gibraltar when it collided with a group of orcas.
As a result of the impact, the boat's rudder was broken, leaving it adrift, and a water leak had opened, flooding the interior of the sailboat.
Salvamento Marítimo activated the "Salvamar Enif," which was in the area after rescuing the occupants of a small boat, and the "Helimer 222" helicopter, which transported a bilge pump.
The helicopter arrived at the scene at 23:11 hours and transferred the bilge pump to the Salvamento Marítimo vessel. They managed to pump out the water from the sailboat, enabling it to be towed, and also boarded the four crew members.
Finally, with all four rescued individuals in good health and the sailboat being towed, the "Salvamar Enif" arrived at the port of Barbate at 2:55 hours.
A video showing a pod of orcas attacking a yacht off Gibraltar has gone viral. However, the Nautilus project has told GBC this behaviour is ‘normal’ and not as sinister as is being reported in some media.
The incident, involving British sailor April Boyes, was filmed and uploaded onto her private Instagram account, where it has since been picked up by the international press. In a recent post, Ms Boyes claimed her story has been over-sensationalised, adding she does “not condone demonising the orcas”.
Ms Boyes, who was sailing with a crew of four on the Mustique, saw a pod of orcas in the waters near Gibraltar on Thursday morning. After switching the engine off in accordance with guidelines, she says the whales began to bump into the rudder continuously for over an hour, causing considerable damage and flooding to the vessel. The crew were forced to mayday the Spanish Maritime Rescue Service for assistance.
There have been numerous similar attacks in the area over the past few years, with Sky News quoting the Grupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica (GTOA) figure of at least 20 similar incidents this month alone in the Strait of Gibratar.
The Project's Lewis Stagnetto explained the juveniles in the pod were either being playful or learning how to hunt, and that these apex predators consume around 250 kilos of food a day.
Despite being known as killer whales, the endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family.