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sightings and interactions

When humans and orcas are present in the same place, or in the vicinity, that moment can be defined as a sighting or an interaction.

If orcas sail in their course without paying attention to its surroundings, or even getting a little closer to the ship, but continuing on its way, we call sighting.

Interaction is considered, when the animals fix their attention on the boat, coming to maintain a direct contact, that is, when they approach, observe and/or touch the ship.


Therefore interaction is the moment in which the presence of the boat is causing a reaction on orcas and they respond to this presence, even in different way.

A disruptive behaviour

In 2020, a new behaviour, called disruptive, was observed when some juveniles started at interact mainly with sailboats. However there were also some cases of interaction with fishing vessels and pneumatics. It was reported that orcas touched, pushed and even turned the vessels, which in some cases resulted with damage in rudders.


In total, 52 interactions were recorded between July and November 2020 between waters of the Strait of Gibraltar and Galicia (NW Peninsula), including the coast along Portugal. Two new cases were recorded as of January 2021 on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar, highlighting the persistence of this new behaviour over timereaching 197 interactions. In 2022 were recorded 207 interactions.


This confirms the urgent need for specific actions based on the international coordination between administrations, navigators and scientists to avoid future damage to people, orcas and boats.

The 2021 report can be consulted at the following link:  report in English (UK), Annexes (ESP).



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