Hot Air Balloon Crash Caused by ‘Drugged Up Pilot’

A hot air balloon pilot involved in a crash that killed all five people on board is said to have had drugs, including cocaine, in his system.

An investigation was launched by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after the crash in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2021. The NTSB said in its final report released this week that the pilot, Nichola Meleski, did not maintain enough clearance from power lines while trying to land.

He ended up hitting the power lines before crashing the hot air balloon into a busy intersection. Investigators found no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures.

The amounts of cocaine and marijuana found in his system suggested “recent use” which likely would have had “impairing effects” that contributed to the crash on June 26, 2021, according to the report. The report said Meleski had used cannabis “within the last few hours” and had also used cocaine recently.

“Some impairing effects of THC would likely have been present, that would have effected the pilot’s ability to successfully operate the balloon.”

Meleski’s family said in a statement their hearts go out to the families of the passengers – Mary Martinez, her husband Martin, and their friends, Susan and John Montoya.

“We cannot express the depth of our grief and sadness for the pain this accident has caused – our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the passengers,” they said. “We also want to thank the entire hot air ballooning community of New Mexico and across the world.

“The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming and we continue to grieve with you. Nick loved this community so dearly, and our family will continue to support the sport any way we can. Whether you crew for a pilot or are a veteran in the skies…

“May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter
And sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”

Witnesses told investigators that the balloon’s envelope, the actual ‘balloon’, separated from the basket after hitting the power lines and floated away. It was found south of the crash site.

Martin Martinez worked as a police officer, first for the city of Albuquerque and later for its public school system. Mary Martinez, a mum-of-two, is remembered for her love of helping people. Susan Montoya was an assistant school principal and her husband worked with special educational needs students.

Federal officials said the hot air balloon crash was the deadliest in New Mexico’s history and the second deadliest in the US since 2016. Albuquerque is home to an annual international balloon fiesta that draws hundreds of pilots and tens of thousands of spectators every October.

Legendary Music Executive Jerry Moss Dead at 88

Legendary music executive Jerry Moss, a co-founder of A&M Records whose roster included such hit acts as Janet Jackson, The Police, Sting, the Carpenters and Sheryl Crow, died Wednesday. He was 88 years old. 

The death was attributed to natural causes, said Moss’ widow, Tina Morse, per the Associated Press, which also reported that Moss died at his home in Bel Air, California, via a statement from his family. 

“They truly don’t make them like him anymore and we will miss conversations with him about everything under the sun, the twinkle in his eyes as he approached every moment ready for the next adventure,” according to the statement,

Moss co-founded A&M Records with trumpeter Herb Albert, who would also record for the label, in 1962, Rolling Stone reported–their surnames made up the ‘A’ and ‘M’ in A&M Records. The initial plan for their then-new partnership, as both men told the magazine in 2012, was to release Alpert’s “Tell It to yhe Birds” and Charlie Robinson’s “Love Is Back in Style,” which had a trumpet solo by Alpert.   A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss.

“Herb’s record was a hit. It sold several thousand copies, which was enough to get us going,” Moss told Rolling Stone at the time.

A&M Records signed some of music’s popular acts in the following decades, including Joe Cocker, Styx, Joe Jackson, Squeeze, Suzanne Vega, the Human League, Cat Stevens, Amy Grant and Soundgarden. Among the label’s smash hit albums were Carole King’s Tapestry, Jackson’s Control, The Police’s Synchronicity, Bryan Adams’ Reckless and Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive!” Even Alpert himself found success on A&M with his 1965 album Whipped Cream & Other Delights and his 1979 single “Rise.”

Moss was born in Brooklyn, New York, and got his start in the music business doing radio promotion for Coed Records, per Variety.  He later moved to California and launched an independent record promotion company; his work as a record producer brought him in contact with Alpert, both of whom started A&M in Alpert’s garage. “We had a huge advantage,” Alpert told Rolling Stone in 2012. “There was no board of directors – just Jerry and myself. We made decisions quickly, and signed artists we liked.”

In 1989, A&M was sold to Polygram for $500 million, and Moss and Alpert continued with the label until 1993, Variety reported. The two executives were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

“What we built we’re very proud of,” Moss told music writer Barney Hoskyns for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s program notes. “We were able to communicate with people that the label really meant something unique in the music world.”

Some of the artists who were on the roster paid tribute to Moss on social media following the news of his death. 

“I am so sorry to hear Jerry Moss has left us,” Peter Frampton wrote on Twitter (now known as X). “Jerry was a true gentleman and if it weren’t for him, so many lives might have turned out very differently…He loved great music and went out of his way to make a place where artists could find themselves and create with his lovely encouragement and patience. I love you, Jerry, and my thoughts are with wife Tina and the entire family. Rest now my dear friend.”

“A gentleman, a mentor, a friend, and utterly irreplaceable,” Sting shared in an Instagram post that featured a photo of him and Moss. “A devastating loss.”

“Jerry Moss was an honest man,” tweeted Yusuf/Cat Stevens, “and was a great patron of musical talent. It was at his Malibu house I re-connected with God, out there in the Ocean. May he rest in peace. #jerrymoss

Former Police guitarist Andy Summers also wrote about Moss via X: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Jerry Moss. He was a kind, clever and thoughtful man who was fun to be around and be involved with. It never felt like business but rather a fruitful and creative partnership. He will be missed. Thanks Jerry.”

Plane Crashes into Remote Mountain in Canada Killing Six People (Video)

Six people have died after a plane fell from the sky in Canada.

Police in Calgary confirmed the incident occurred just west of the city, in the Alberta mountains, after taking off the night before from Springbank airport. The pilot had five passengers on board.

Travelling in a single-engine Piper PA-32, they were bound for Salmon Arm in the neighboring province of British Columbia. Officials say the plane was reported overdue at 1:00 am on Saturday, and a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules plane was soon dispatched to search for the missing aircraft.

The search team located it by tracing an emergency locator transmitter to Mount Bogart, where it was confirmed none had survived the crash. 

A Transportation Safety Board spokesperson said the agency is investigating the incident. It recalls the tragic crash of a small plane carrying a ‘will you marry me?’ banner two years ago. 

The 1974 Cessna 172 plane was trailing the message over Montreal when it burst into flames and crashed in the city’s Parc Dieppe. 

The plummeting aircraft was observed by revellers at the nearby Osheaga Get Together music festival.

Evidence retrieved from the crash site showed that the plane bounced upon impact and spun before coming to a stop. One passenger died and the pilot, Gian Piero Ciambella, sustained injuries.

He had previously earned an award for an ‘extraordinary piloting feat’ after making an emergency landing in the city when his engine stalled during a flight in 2016. 

Earlier this week, two pilots also died after their plane – incidentally, thought to be a Canadair craft – crashed into a hillside while fighting raging wildfires on the Greek island of Evia, near Athens. 

Locals explained how an almost identical tragedy – again, involving a Canadair plane, and also claiming the lives of two men – took place almost fifteen years ago to the day.

Original Article

18-Year-Old Brutally Beaten at Country Music Concert as Girlfriend Looks on in Horror (Video)

An Alabama teenager was brutally attacked and left unconscious with a broken nose by a group of several men at a country music festival on Saturday night.

Reid Watts, 18, attended the “Rock the South” music festival with a group of his friends when a fellow concertgoer accused him of spilling a drink on them, which eventually led to the teen getting beaten up by a group of “30- to 40-year-old” men.

Watts said he tried to clear up any hostility with his accuser as he didn’t have a drink on him and the two reportedly shook hands, but moments later while some of his friends left for the restroom, he was attacked from behind.

“Some dude said I was spilling beer on him or something along those things, and then I talked to him because I didn’t have a drink on me at the time, like I didn’t have anything, I talked to him and shook his hand because I thought everything was okay because I explained to him it wasn’t me,” Watts recalled to WBMA.

“Then a few minutes later, I was walking back and got hit in the back of the head, then I hit the ground and tried to cover my face, then I got knocked out and that was really all I remember,” Watts added.


Watts’ girlfriend, Katie Hudgins, said she was left traumatized after watching the group of men beat up her boyfriend in front of her, and even rob the defenseless teen.

“It was horrible, I’m traumatized, I felt so helpless because I couldn’t get in there and get to him and I had to sit there and watch him get beat up while he’s unconscious, it’s horrible,” Hudgins said.

The brawl wasn’t broken up until festival security got to the teen and rushed him out, Watts’ mother said as she asked for help finding her son’s attackers.

“Please help me find the cowards who did this to my son tonight at Rock the South. There were several grown men (30s-40s) who jumped on him and beat him unconscious while his girlfriend stood there screaming and crying for help,” Kaci Howard said in a Facebook post. “They continued beating him while he was on the ground until security finally got to them and got Reid and Katie out of there and to an ambulance.”

Watts was rushed to a local hospital, where Howard shared a photo of her beaten-up son with swollen eyes, a reddened face, and wearing a neck brace while being examined.

“He has a fractured nose, concussion, stitches, knots the size of softballs on the back of his head. He never even saw it coming,” Howard added.

Watts was rushed to a local hospital where Howard shared a photo of her beaten up son with swollen eyes, a redden face and wearing a neck brace while being examined.
Watts was rushed to a local hospital, where Howard shared a photo of her beaten-up son with swollen eyes, a reddened face, and wearing a neck brace while being examined.

Although it is unclear when the attack happened, singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton was headlining Saturday’s concert at York Farms in Cullman, Alabama.

One bystander claimed he tried to help Watts, saying he couldn’t watch his own friends get jumped like that, so he didn’t want to see a stranger beaten up either.

“I was thinking maybe if it was my little brother or one of my friends, I would hope someone would do the same. It was just so many people standing around watching,” Chase Brown told the outlet.

Watts was released from the hospital and has been healing at home following the attack.

“I’m all right, and it could’ve been a lot worse,” Watts said.

It is unclear what exactly led to the assault.

Police opened an investigation and initially asked festival-goers for help identifying the men responsible for Watts’ injuries.

Watts was released from the hospital and has been healing at home following the attack.
Watts was released from the hospital and has been healing at home following the attack.

But cops have said they no longer need more information as investigators are working the case and will file charges soon, with a press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

“The part that we are the most concerned with is that portion where Mr. Reid is on the ground and it’s obvious that he is unconscious, you can see that his legs are not moving and he continues to be punched in the face,” Chief David Nassetta of the Cullman Police Department told the WBMA.

Festival organizers offered a $10,000 reward and lifetime tickets for information that would lead to the arrest of Watts’ attackers.

The festival also called the perpetrators “gutless cowards,” but thanked everyone for sharing information and photos.

“We’ve always been about community. We are proud of how our fans have come together like never before. Thank you RTS Family for your great work,” the festival said on Instagram.

Original Article

Crocodile Attacks Tourist at Popular National Park Waterfall While Cop Puts Body on the Line to Save Her Family (Video)

Dozens of tourists have fled the waters of a Northern Territory national park swimming hole after it’s believed a man was attacked by a crocodile.

NT Parks and Wildlife closed Wangi Falls, in Litchfield National Park, on Monday afternoon after “unconfirmed reports of an incident with a crocodile,” according to a social media post.

“We have closed access for safety reasons,” it reads, “please obey all closures and do not enter the water.”

NT News reported an off-duty nurse helped the man, aged in his 60s, until staff from a local health clinic arrived to transport the man.

The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife posted this update following the incident.
The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife posted this update following the incident.

Taneka Starr, a visitor from Tasmania, told the paper about 80 people were swimming at Wangi Falls when the attack took place.

“He saw the croc and warned another man which diverted the croc back to him,” Taneka said.

“People on the viewing platform were screaming at us to get out of the water, which we all did.“[It was] terrifying.”

The crocodile was caught in a trap by the Crocodile Management Team.
The crocodile was caught in a trap by the Crocodile Management Team.

She said the man suffered scratches and an open-wound to his arm, and while he was in shock, tried to downplay his condition because his grandchildren were present.

A Tasmanian police officer put her body on the line to protect her family during the attack.

Detective Taneka Starr was on holiday with her family when onlookers began screaming about the crocodile. “We formed a circle together to make sure we all made it out of the water safely as a group, especially the children,” she said.

“We then saw that a man had suffered injuries to his arm and together my sisters and I provided first aid. I’m so glad that everyone was OK. It was a pretty terrifying experience.”

Wangi Falls is a popular dry-season swimming hole, about an hour’s drive south of Darwin.

The incident comes just a day after a 2.5m saltwater crocodile (a “saltie” to the locals, as opposed to a “freshie”) closed Bitter Springs, in the Elsey National Park.The NT Government says while they take visitor safety seriously, the way people behave around crocodile habitats is their responsibility.

“Any body of water in the Top End may contain large and potentially dangerous crocodiles,” reads their crocodile education website Crocwise.


Original Article

Putin Assassination Bridge Plot ‘Foiled by Russian Secret Service’

Russian secrect service agents foiled an attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, insiders have said.

The Federal Protection Service (FSO), which has responsibility for protecting top Russian officials, apparently stopped an attempt to kill Putin with explosives placed in a river bed underneath a bridge.

Telegram channel VChK-OGPU claimed the device was timed to blow up as Putin‘s motorcade travelled across the unnamed bridge, likely to be somewhere along the route from the Kremlin to the President’s residence outside Moscow.

The Telegram post states: “The FSO was checking information about the preparation of an assassination attempt on Putin with the help of explosives at the bottom of the Moskva River, laid down from a barge.

“A duty officer of the Federal Security Service reported a suspicious barge under the bridge.”

Russian secrect service agents foiled an attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, insiders have said.

The Federal Protection Service (FSO), which has responsibility for protecting top Russian officials, apparently stopped an attempt to kill Putin with explosives placed in a river bed underneath a bridge.

Telegram channel VChK-OGPU claimed the device was timed to blow up as Putin’s motorcade travelled across the unnamed bridge, likely to be somewhere along the route from the Kremlin to the President’s residence outside Moscow.

The Telegram post states: “The FSO was checking information about the preparation of an assassination attempt on Putin with the help of explosives at the bottom of the Moskva River, laid down from a barge.

“A duty officer of the Federal Security Service reported a suspicious barge under the bridge.”

Divers were reportedly seen in the water after the suspect barge was ordered to move, “due to the movement of motorcades over the bridge”.

The FSO is thought to have checked the papers of the crew of the barge, who claimed they were carrying out repairs to the bridge.

Nothing has been announced officially as of yet related to the detection of explosives.

The post added: “The employee said that in connection with security measures, it is necessary to remove the ship, this is due to the movement of motorcades along the bridge itself.

Immediately after that, the divers began to examine the bottom of the river, and after a few hours, the FSO demanded to check the documents of all those present on the barge.

“The officers were interested in documents confirming the completion of repair work at the bridge on that particular day and time.

“Special services are still working with the repair team and their superiors.”

A brief clip shot from the bridge appeared to show security forces on a boat in the Moskva near the Novoarbatsky Bridge.

The activity was close to the World Trade Centre and the White House headquarters of the Russian government near the former Ukraine Hotel, a Stalin tower now which is now called the Radisson Collection Hotel.

A drone strike in May targeted the Kremlin in what Russia claimed was likewise at attempt by Ukrainian forces to assassinate Putin.

Ukraine‘s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, refused the suggestion, saying: “We don’t attack Putin or Moscow.

“We fight on our territory. We’re defending our villages and cities”

Original Article

Antiques Roadshow Viewers ‘Feel Sick’ After Recent Episode

You can see all sorts on Antiques Roadshow which is pretty weird, but every now and then something comes along which not only takes the proverbial biscuit but helps itself to the rest of the pack as well.

It’s pretty amazing when you think about the stuff people have buried in some bottom drawer in their homes gathering dust for years, and what counts as an antique these days.

Pokémon cards and Air Jordans are apparently old enough to make it onto Antiques Roadshow now, but every now and then someone does bring in something that is legitimately quite old.

People have all sorts lying around the home which might be an undiscovered goldmine so it’s always worth going through the cupboards for antiques which could be worth something.

One thing you wouldn’t forget about owning is a selection of clippings of human hair from famous people of yesteryear but Antiques Roadshow viewers were stunned to discover how much they were worth.

The bad news is the owner of this lock of white hair is very dead, the good news is the clipping is worth a pretty penny. Credit: BBC

On Sunday’s (11 June) episode of the show, hosted this time at the Eden Project, one of the items being appraised was a collection of clippings from well-known poets.

Envelopes containing human hair from poets such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were examined by Justin Croft, who found multiple hair samples including one which much have been taken from a person’s deathbed.

The expert said: “If we want to talk value with the picture and with the locks of hair I think without a shadow of a doubt we’re looking at £30,000 to £40,000.”

The hair clippings had been something of a family heirloom, with the hair’s owner being descended from one of the famous poets and coming into possession of them after they were handed down the generations.

Upwards of £40,000 for some clippings of dead people’s hair from the 19th Century sounds crazy, regardless of how famous they were, and plenty of Antiques Roadshow viewers agreed.

One person slammed it as ‘valuing some old Victorian pubes’ while another thought ‘this hair stuff is a bit off kilter’.

Someone else said poking through the samples of hair which were well over a century old made them ‘feel sick’ and the idea of taking valuable clippings didn’t go down well with many.

“If I’m dying and you start cutting my hair you are f**king going with me,” another person wrote.

They were clearly not a fan of the idea that one of the envelopes was filled with famous hair snipped from someone either in the last moments of their life or their first moments of being an ex-poet.

Original Article

Alec Baldwin is Recovering from Surgery in ‘Cat Poop-Filled Room’

Alec Baldwin is dealing with a lot of s – – t.

His wife, Hilaria Baldwin, posted to her Instagram Stories on Thursday night that Alec is recovering from a hip replacement in a less-than-ideal environment.

“Alec has to sleep in a room that’s safe for him to get around the first few days of his hip surgery. Carmen, Alec and I went out for a little bit and we came back to the cats leaving some surprises in that room, which was poop because some of them are babies,” Hilaria candidly shared with her 999,000 followers. 

“The cats are normally clean, but occasionally s – – t happens. You can imagine he wasn’t super excited to see that.” 

At one point, Alec awkwardly bent down to pick up and inspect some cat poop, thinking perhaps it was a crumbled-up black crayon.

The actor held the excrement with his bare hands and held it up to his nose and confirmed that it was, indeed, feline feces and not a coloring implement.

It’s “the best part of the story,” Hilaria said.

The mother of seven shared news of her husband’s hip-replacement procedure earlier this week with an Instagram photo of her sitting next to the 65-year-old actor in a hospital bed and thanking his doctors. 

Last fall, Hilaria, a 39-year-old yoga guru, posted a video on social media of the family’s new kitten, Camila Valenciana Azul.

“She’s a charcoal bengal and siblings with our other two…Emilio is a brown, Cayetana is a snow…got pretty much the whole bengal rainbow now. I’m truly a cat lady,” she wrote in a caption on Instagram.

Alec’s hip-replacement surgery comes after prosecutors dropped the criminal charges against him in April for the on-set death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after he discharged a prop gun that had been loaded with real ammunition.

Family Feud Contestant Found Guilty of Wife’s Brutal Murder (Video)

Timothy Bliefnick has been found guilty of murdering his estranged wife – three years after he made an unsettling joke about his marriage on the game show Family Feud.

A jury returned its verdict on Wednesday following a week-long trial in Illinois, during which prosecutors alleged Bliefnick, 40, broke into Rebecca “Becky” Bliefnick’s home on 23 February and shot her 14 times.

The former couple were locked in divorce proceedings and a bitter custody battle over their three sons at the time.

On 13 March, Bliefnick was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of home invasion.

Becky’s body was discovered by her father William Postle after her family became concerned when the 41-year-old failed to pick her children up from school.

Testifying in Adam County Court on 23 May, Mr Postle said that Bliefnick texted him to check whether Becky planned to pick their sons up.

He also told jurors that the front door of Becky’s home was open, which he said was unusual. He found his daughter in the bathroom and reportedly rushed to a neighbour’s home to call 911, as he had forgotten his phone.

During opening arguments, Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Josh Jones said Becky, who was a travel nurse, spent her final moments “terrified, bleeding, and alone”.

Prosecutors said that the shell casings found near Becky’s body matched casings found in Bliefnick’s home. They alleged that DNA evidence also tied him to the crime scene, as an Aldi bag used by the killer as a gun silencer was found in Becky’s home.

Another Aldi bag with Becky’s DNA was recovered from Bliefnick’s house.

Becky’s sister Sarah Reilly testified that the mother-of-three had previously expressed she was fearful Bliefnick would “somehow harm me”.

Becky’s message read: “I am putting this in writing that I’m fearful he will somehow harm me, come after me, or will try to [do] something to me that takes me away from the kids or the kids away from me.

“He already has lied multiple times to paint himself as a victim and me as the perpetrator when it is absolutely the other way around.”

Becky also filed a restraining order against Bliefnick, before he decided to file for one against her as well.

One of Becky’s friends testified that Bliefnick told her “she’ll be dead before [having] any of [his] money”.

Bliefnick’s conviction comes over three years after his 2020 appearance on the game show hosted by Steve Harvey became the talk of his hometown Quincy, Illimois. Answering one of the prompt questions, Bliefnick joked that the worst mistake he made on his wedding night was saying “I do” to his wife.

After Mr Harvey quipped Bliefnick would have “hell to pay”, the now-convicted murderer clarified he loved his wife Becky.

One year later, Bliefnick and Becky filed for divorce after 13 years of marriage.

Bliefnick is scheduled to be sentenced on 11 August. He faces 45 years to life in prison.

Orcas Attack and Sink 3 Boats Sparking Concern (VIDEO)

Original Article – Orcas have attacked and sunk a third boat off the Iberian coast of Europe, and experts now believe the behavior is being copied by the rest of the population.

Three orcas (Orcinus orca), also known as killer whales, struck the yacht on the night of May 4 in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the coast of Spain, and pierced the rudder. “There were two smaller and one larger orca,” skipper Werner Schaufelberger told the German publication Yacht. “The little ones shook the rudder at the back while the big one repeatedly backed up and rammed the ship with full force from the side.” 

Schaufelberger said he saw the smaller orcas imitate the larger one. “The two little orcas observed the bigger one’s technique and, with a slight run-up, they too slammed into the boat.” Spanish coast guards rescued the crew and towed the boat to Barbate, but it sank at the port entrance.

Two days earlier, a pod of six orcas assailed another sailboat navigating the strait. Greg Blackburn, who was aboard the vessel, looked on as a mother orca appeared to teach her calf how to charge into the rudder. “It was definitely some form of education, teaching going on,” Blackburn told 9news.

Reports of aggressive encounters with orcas off the Iberian coast began in May 2020 and are becoming more frequent, according to a study published June 2022 in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

Assaults seem to be mainly directed at sailing boats and follow a clear pattern, with orcas approaching from the stern to strike the rudder, then losing interest once they have successfully stopped the boat.

“The reports of interactions have been continuous since 2020 in places where orcas are found, either in Galicia or in the Strait,” said co-author Alfredo López Fernandez, a biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal and representative of the Grupo de Trabajo Orca Atlántica, or Atlantic Orca Working Group.

Most encounters have been harmless, López Fernandez told Live Science in an email. “In more than 500 interaction events recorded since 2020 there are three sunken ships. We estimate that killer whales only touch one ship out of every hundred that sail through a location.”

The spike in aggression towards boats is a recent phenomenon, López Fernandez said. Researchers think that a traumatic event may have triggered a change in the behavior of one orca, which the rest of the population has learned to imitate.

“The orcas are doing this on purpose, of course, we don’t know the origin or the motivation, but defensive behavior based on trauma, as the origin of all this, gains more strength for us every day,” López Fernandez said. 

Experts suspect that a female orca they call White Gladis suffered a “critical moment of agony” — a collision with a boat or entrapment during illegal fishing — that flipped a behavioral switch. “That traumatized orca is the one that started this behavior of physical contact with the boat,” López Fernandez said.

Orcas are social creatures that can easily learn and reproduce behaviors performed by others, according to the 2022 study. In the majority of reported cases, orcas have made a beeline for a boat’s rudder and either bitten, bent or broken it.

“We do not interpret that the orcas are teaching the young, although the behavior has spread to the young vertically, simply by imitation, and later horizontally among them, because they consider it something important in their lives,” López Fernandez said.

Orcas appear to perceive the behavior as advantageous, despite the risk they run by slamming into moving boat structures, López Fernandez added. Since the abnormal interactions began in 2020, four orcas belonging to a subpopulation living in Iberian waters have died, although their deaths cannot be directly linked to encounters with boats.

The unusual behavior could also be playful or what researchers call a “fad” — a behavior initiated by one or two individuals and temporarily picked up by others before it’s abandoned. “They are incredibly curious and playful animals and so this might be more of a play thing as opposed to an aggressive thing,” Deborah Giles, an orca researcher at the University of Washington and at the non-profit Wild Orca, told Live Science.

As the number of incidents grows, there is increased concern both for sailors and for the Iberian orca subpopulation, which is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.

The last census, in 2011, recorded just 39 Iberian orcas, according to the 2022 study. “If this situation continues or intensifies, it could become a real concern for the mariners’ safety and a conservation issue for this endangered subpopulation of killer whales,” the researchers wrote. 

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