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The Iberian


The Gladis

Starting at first information about the interactions, an attempt was made to collect graphic information and they immediately recognized each other three individuals as recurring in the facts with the boats.


An orca is considered to be a GLADIS, when it interacts with ships. Therefore, not all Iberian orcas are GLADIS. They were called GLADIS for one of his first vernacular names Orca gladiator, and this colloquial name was transferred to the media, but also to the nomenclature for the identification of the specimens.​


​Here you will see the identification of the fourteen GLADIS known so far, when first observed, what relationship do they have between them and their character of action before an interaction.

Thus, orcas that most engaged in 2020 have been named: GLADIS NEGRA-GN, BLANCA-GB and GRIS-GG and they were previously observed in the Strait, being GN and GG juveniles and GB adult female. In addition to these, in 2020 a total of nine specimens were identified as participants in the interactions: GLADIS DALILA-GD, LAMARI-GL, CLARA-GC, HERBILLE-GH, FILABRES-GF and PEQUE-GP. Although they participated in the interactions, they did not play such a direct role and they were mere companions or observers.

Subsequently, in 2021 five more orcs were identified: Gladis Isa-GI, G. Estrela-GE and G. Matteo-GM that interact with other types of ships. Also G. Albarracín-GA. Tarik-GT, participating in the interactions with sailboats, making a total of fourteen specimens.


In 2022, G. Estrela-GE was identified by joining the orcs that interact with sailboats and one more orca is also identified: Gladis Olvera-Ggo, adding a total of fifteen specimens.

The content of this information is an excerpt from the document: Alfredo López Fernández and Ruth Esteban Pavo (Coord). 2021. Report on the preparation of a scientific study on the interaction of the Orcas (Orcinus orca) population in the Strait of Gibraltar with boats for the design and proposal of prevention, action and management measures. Atlantic Orca Working Group-GTOA/CEMMA-Coordinator for the Study of Marine Mammals. LIFE INTEMARES project. Biodiversity Foundation. +(engllsh)

Ya no están

They are no longer


CÓRSICA, was found dead off the coast of Lagos, Portugal, on 03/17/2022.

She belonged to the group in which is present Grandma TOÑI, which has one estimated age 50 years, she is considered the longest-lived orca of the Iberian orca population.

It is estimated that CÓRSICA would be between 21-23 years old now, so it must have been born around the year 2000-2002, she is the second daughter of MUESCA.


CÓRSICA sighting in Galicia, 2015


CORSICA had three known descendants. Her first calf was SONRISA, in 2014. Normally there is a four-year period between calves for orcas, but since SONRISA did not survive its first year of life, in 2017 she had GLADIS MATTEO-GM. The last calf to be born was GLADIS ISA-GI, in 2021.

CÓRSICA was assiduous in the waters of the Strait and belonged to the pods that feed on the interaction with tuna fishermen. She was observed traveling north in autumn 2015, in Galicia, and in 2017 on the Portuguese central coast. She is known traveling with GLADIS BLANCA-GB, though in years prior to 2020, the beginning of interactions with ships.

CÓRSICA is not qualified as GLADIS, namely, it was not observed involved in the events of interactions, with any kind of ship. Although his daughters, GADIS MATTEO-GM and GLADIS ISA-GI, were observed following the stern of small boats, but no sailboats, nor did they break anything.

Catalog Foto-ID2023

The GTOA has made a wide collection of images in order to make an updated catalogue of Iberian orcas. We have been working on this initiative since 2020. The catalogue was produced with the collaboration of 29 entities and more than 27 people.

21,000 images were analyzed, of which 231 were selected, which are part of this catalog and which define a total of 66 individuals, of which a maximum of 49 would be alive. This work has been coordinated and prepared by Dr. Ruth Esteban Pavo, a specialist in the Iberian Orca. 

You can consult and download the catalog at this link: catalogue in Español,  catalogue in English, catalogue  in Galician, catallogue in French

We are working on the versions with the names and correspondences between our catalog and that of the orca Cádiz project: Galician and Spanish version. Until now in all the public references of the identified orcas we have put the keys of the orcas from the GTOA/orcacadiz catalogues, simultaneously, but due to the lack of reciprocity we will stop doing so, we consider that these documents will be enough for people interested in both catalogs.


We want to dedicate this immense work to two humans, with infinite gratitude, because they were able to instill in many of us a love for the sea and especially for orcas. Thank you friends for introducing orcas into our minds and lives.


IN MEMORIAM: to Mario Morcillo and David Alarcón.

Photo-ID orcas 2023-ES-F.pdf
Registros historicos

Historical records


Orca stranded on the beach Sardinero, Santander in 1890.

The skull is in the Cantabrian Maritime Museum.

Orca captured in Cape Higuer, Hondarribia,1912.

orca captured inSantander,1955.

orca captured infisterra,1957.

Orca stranded dead in Valdegrana,Cadiz,1970.Antonio Valverde.

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