Orca interactions with boats ‘expected’ to stop
, 2022-11-18 00:32:44,
A scientist studying orca interactions with small sailing yachts off the Iberian Peninsula believes their behaviour will stop once the marine mammals mature
Orca interactions with small boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal should stop as the marine mammals mature, according to one of the marine scientists studying the cetaceans’ behaviour.
Alfredo Lopez says the orca are displaying learnt behaviour but ‘it is a behaviour that should tend to become extinct as orcas assume different roles than they currently do, given that most of them are juveniles.’
According to the Center for Whale Research, male orcas reach sexual maturity at around 25 years of age; females attain sexual maturity in their early teens.
Lopez is part of Groupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica (GTOA), a group of Portuguese and Spanish marine scientists who have been studying the orca interactions since they began in 2020.
He said there are at least 16 orcas belonging to various groups of the same subpopulation which are interacting with boats, many of them young, and it was ‘unlikely’ that their behaviour could spread to other groups of orca, although not ‘impossible’.
The reasons for the orcas’ interest in small boats is still unknown, although Lopez believes it is ‘self-induced behaviour’: either the mammals have suddenly become…
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