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Orca whales captured on camera randomly attacking boats

There's debate over whether the whales are seeking revenge or playful behavior.

SAN DIEGO — Incredible video of killer whales seen attacking small and large boats off the coast of Spain.

There's been an increase in these encounters and some wonder why.

Orca sightings off of San Diego’s coast usually start in June, but we're told they're still pretty far south.

Now they are making headlines in Europe where they're attacking boats and some wonder, are they being playful or are they seeking revenge?

There's a dramatic video of an orca seen slamming into a 66-foot sailboat off Spain's southern coast. The force of the whale damaged the hull and crews had to pump water off the boat.

They tried to scare off the pod, but the video shows it still lurking by the boat.

Researchers say there is a wave of orca attacks on small boats and yachts in the Strait of Gibraltar

At least 3 boats have recently sunk. Researchers say since 2020 orca encounters in the area have increased. There have been more than 20 interactions recorded just this month and the total was 207 last year.

Another video of a killer whale seen ripping off two rudders and swimming with it in its mouth.

Some researchers have speculated if this is revenge or playful behavior.

“My personal opinion is that people do revenge, animals don’t do revenge,” said Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist.

He is a professor at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute and was a researcher at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego.

“I think they are just playing around. They tried it once and turned it into a game. As it is with killer whales, things tend to spread among the group,” said Pitman.

Killer whales are matriarchal, and some believe the adult female in the pod may have had a traumatic experience with a boat and is seeking revenge but Pitman says it's playfulness. 

“The matriarch is definitely in charge of the group. If she is in favor of it or will let it happen then it will and if she says no it will stop,” said Pitman.

No one has been killed in the recent attacks and Pitman hopes this won’t lead to people killing the whales.

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