The RYA has been notified of a number of incidents involving Orca Whales bumping and damaging sailing craft within Spanish waters.
Following these incidents the Spanish authorities have introduced a Navigation Exclusion Zone off NW Spain for craft under 15 metres between Cabo Prioriño Grande and la Punta de Estaca de Bares.
Craft are still able to enter and leave ports and harbours in the area, but should steer the shortest possible course perpendicular (at right angles) to and from the coastline as they cross the zone.
All vessels are being warned, via broadcast messages, to not approach and give a wide berth to any orca whales they encounter in the area.
Any sightings should be reported to the Finisterre Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre.
Several other incidents have taken place since 19 September along the coast of NW Spain. Significantly, there were reports of rudder and steering damage during a number of these.
In most incidents, interactions have been with sailing yachts or craft using sail and motor under 15 metres. Locations have been between 2 and 8 nautical miles from the coast.
The measures being taken by the Spanish authorities are designed to protect both people and whales, by minimising encounters.
The RYA would also be interested to hear from anyone that has had similar experiences along the coast of Spain and Portugal.
While orca (Killer Whales) attacks on humans in the wild are rare, and no fatal attacks have been recorded, as of 2019 four humans have died due to interactions with captive orcas.