First encounter between an orca and a sailboat in the waters of the Bay of Algeciras

This summer, on Sunday, July 30, for the first time, an orca ventured into the waters of the Bay of Algeciras and had a confrontation with a sailboat located between the southern end of the isolated dike of the port of Algeciras and the port of La Línea.

Upon noticing the cetacean approaching, the boat reversed, and the vessel only suffered damage to the paint on its hull. Sailors have discovered that reversing can dissuade orcas. Recently, some sailboats are also throwing firecrackers attached to lead pieces into the water to explode in the sea and scare away the animals.

Throughout July, a group of orcas has moved from the coast of Barbate to the area of Estepona and Marbella, crossing the Strait. However, until last Sunday, no cetaceans had entered the Bay of Algeciras.

The reason for the departure from Atlantic waters may be related to the appearance of a family of "native" or resident tuna that lives year-round in the western Mediterranean - on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar - thanks to the presence of warmer waters with sufficient food.

In any case, the recent interactions between sailboats and orcas off the coasts of La Línea, Sotogrande, and Estepona are not yet reflected in the maps published by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco).

The latest data from Miteco is from July 26, where they indicate the surroundings of Tarifa and Barbate as the only areas where it is possible to find cetaceans, according to information provided through satellite tracking.

One tagged orca
When consulted by Europa Sur, the ministry explains that the tagging done "on the first orca is still transmitting." And they add: "The group of orcas we were monitoring is currently in French waters."

Miteco is collaborating with Circe, an association based in Algeciras dedicated to the conservation and study of cetaceans, for the tagging of a maximum of six orcas with the aim of understanding their habitat use throughout the year. "New tagging will continue to be carried out when the opportunity arises, considering the distribution of the group, as well as the sea conditions, which do not always allow for safe tagging for both professionals and animals," clarifies the Ministry for Ecological Transition in response to this newspaper.

On July 14, Circe announced on their social media that they were launching a new campaign to track the orcas. "We will deploy a series of devices that will allow us to better understand their hunting strategies," they added.