Durante el transcurso del verano de 2020 se registraron varios casos de ataques de orcas a veleros y otras embarcaciones en las costas de la Península Ibérica. Estos extraños acontecimientos responden, al parecer, a un cambio súbito en el comportamiento de estos cetáceos. Un fenómeno que ha descolocado tanto a expertos como a las autoridades marítimas, cuya naturaleza todavía no está del todo clara.
Los ataques de orcas registrados
Según se ha informado en diferentes medios, desde el mes de julio llegaron a contabilizarse 33 interacciones entre orcas y veleros. Seis de ellas en el Estrecho de Gibraltar, cinco en las costas portuguesas y 22 en Galicia, al noroeste de la Península Ibérica.
Durante el mes de agosto pudieron divisarse varios ejemplares desde las playas gallegas, en total hasta 13 orcas distribuidas en tres grupos. El último contacto con un barco se notificó el 30 de septiembre.
A la hora de evaluar los daños de las embarcaciones para comprender la naturaleza de los ataques se identificaron diversas señales de contacto físico con el casco, especialmente con el timón. Aunque los sucesos hubieran sido súbitos y a priori incomprensibles, solo el 15% reportaron daños severos en las naves que imposibilitaron la navegación. En ningún caso existió un peligro físico para los navegantes, pero sí se dieron situaciones de angustia y cierto temor por el desconocimiento y la sorpresa de los acontecimientos.
Las posibles causas del fenómeno, ¿venganza?
La razón de ser del extraño fenómeno ha desconcertado a los expertos, a la prensa y también a las autoridades marítimas. Pocas veces se han registrado ataques de estas características y de forma súbita a embarcaciones próximas a la costa.
Desde el punto de vista de la tripulación de cualquier barco, este suceso supone riesgos lógicos como son perder el control de la nave, daños estructurales o incluso la posibilidad de caer al agua. Ante la falta de explicaciones, varios expertos han barajado algunas posibilidades para encontrar sentido a los ataques. Una de las hipótesis sería, tal y como mencionan, «un incidente aversivo». Es decir, una respuesta de venganza ante una situación en que las mismas orcas hubieran recibido algún daño.
Por lo que se ha explicado al respecto, el acercamiento de orcas a distintas embarcaciones no es un comportamiento extraordinario ni aislado. Es común que interactúen de alguna forma con elementos extraños móviles, como barcos, para satisfacer su propia curiosidad. El componente insólito y sin precedentes, en este caso, sería la manipulación y destrucción deliberada del barco y el timón.
Las primeras especulaciones apuntan a que todo pudo haber surgido de algún incidente negativo entre las orcas y otras embarcaciones que navegaban, quizá, a gran velocidad. No hay certeza en estas posibilidades, ni evidencias claras que lo demuestren. Tampoco si el suceso fue accidental o intencionado. Pero podría explicar en cierto punto la conducta agresiva de los cetáceos ante los navíos afectados. En cualquier caso, no puede descartarse el mismo merodeo curioso, dado que las proporciones y el tamaño de las orcas es suficiente para generar daños estructurales tan solo con acercarse a los barcos.
La naturaleza de las orcas
Las orcas se han ganado el apelativo de «ballenas asesinas» por sus comportamientos como depredador marino. Al margen de si este título es merecido o no, lo cierto es que este fenómeno ha traído de vuelta los debates acerca del peligro que pueden llegar a suponer estos cetáceos para el hombre.
Tal y como comentó un zoólogo entrevistado por el programa de actualidad Cuarto Milenio al respecto, estas sorprendentes conductas no deberían serlo tanto. Explica que las orcas son mamíferos, y como tal, se desarrollan y organizan socialmente en manada. Defiende que no es la primera vez que se dan casos de esta naturaleza y que no son, por tanto, excepcionales. Al igual que otras especies de mamíferos como el lobo, las orcas se coordinan y comunican entre sí para atacar a sus presas de acuerdo a su instinto depredador. Cuando lo hacen, ejecutan movimientos estratégicos para debilitar al animal, como neutralizar sus movimientos atacando las aletas o la cola.
Esta descripción explica el comportamiento inusitado de las orcas. Quedará por descubrir si se trata de un acto de venganza y aversión hacia los barcos o la mera curiosidad de animales bastante grandes. Lo que está claro es que en el mar no somos más que forasteros entrando en un espacio peligroso y desconocido, un lugar en el que definitivamente no somos soberanos.
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