During the summer of 2020, a group of Orca whales off the coast of Spain and Portugal (see map) began to act very strangely indeed
along the Spanish coastline. Accounts of the incidents suggested that the animals were deliberately targeting sailing boats. Marine science investigators are still trying to work out what was driving these complex, intelligent and highly social marine
mammals to behave in this way. The juvenile males named in the official orca record as black Gladis, white Gladis, and grey Gladis, were reported ramming mostly the rudder of the sailing boats. Reactions on the encounters between orcas and boats varied
from ‘deliberate attacks’ meant as some form of vengeance (reminiscent of Moby Dick ramming Ahabs boats) to ‘these guys were only playing’’. As top predators, aggression, dominance and shows of strength are likely to be
key elements of any formative “play”. And for some of the most social animals on Earth, Dr Michael Weiss from the University of Exeter and the Center for Whale Research says, “when they play together, it could be building important social
bonds”. And people should perhaps not forget that the Ocean is still the territory of big predators, some of which might not like intruders invading their migratory routes or hunting grounds.