The Ministry of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda (Mitma) has published a series of guidelines and recommendations for navigators in case of encounters with orcas in the Atlantic, with the aim of minimizing risks to the crew, the vessel, and the cetaceans.
Transportes suggests that navigators should use motor navigation instead of sailing if an interaction occurs. They also recommend that people on board avoid approaching the edges and seek shelter in safe areas of the boat in case of sudden movements. Most importantly, they advise not to stop the vessel but rather steer it towards shallower waters until the orcas lose interest.
The Ministry also recommends navigating as close to the coast as possible within safety limits to avoid encounters. It further informs that these guidelines have been agreed upon with the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge and comply with regulations establishing measures for cetacean protection.
Additionally, in order to have as much information as possible before setting sail, a satellite map indicating the location of the orcas, provided by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, has been published. The map will be updated weekly as long as information on the location of the cetaceans is available.
The Ministry of Transport, through the General Directorate of Merchant Marine, requests that anyone experiencing interactions with orcas report it as soon as possible to the nearest Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. These centers are always available to navigators and will respond to any emergencies that may arise as a result of the encounter.
Furthermore, as long as it does not pose a danger to the crew or the animal, it is requested to take photographs of the involved orca specimens to have a better record and identification of these animals.
DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS WITH ORCAS
The Ministry's recommendations come after recent cases of interactions with orcas that have resulted in damage to vessels and rescue operations in the last month. Recently, two crew members of a sailboat named Take It Easy required assistance from Maritime Rescue personnel after their vessel lost its rudder following a collision during an interaction with a group of orcas in the waters of Barbate (Cádiz).
According to the information provided by Maritime Rescue to Europa Press on June 9th, the sailboat was located 22 nautical miles southwest of Barbate and made the first distress call at 15:30 on that day. The interaction with the group of orcas caused several damages to the recreational vessel, leaving it without a rudder and with an inoperative engine, in addition to having no watertight integrity.