STORY: The helicopter was carrying a bilge pump.
According to the research group GTOA, which tracks populations of the Iberian orca sub-species, the incident follows at least 20 interactions this month alone in the Strait of Gibraltar between small vessels and the highly social apex predators. In 2022, there were 207 reported interactions, GTOA data showed.
Earlier in May, a yacht suffered a similar impact from three orcas half a nautical mile off Barbate. The ship could not be towed as it was completely flooded and was left adrift to sink.
Guidelines issued by the Spanish Transport Ministry stipulate that whenever ships observe any alteration in the behavior of orcas - such as sudden changes of direction or speed - they should leave the area as soon as possible and avoid further disturbance to the animals during the maneuvers.