Hunting orca a fabulous show

ROGER GRACE
Last updated 10:27 08/11/2012
orca

LUNCH BREAK: The orca spent two hours in Whangateau Harbour hunting stingrays.

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Visitors to Omaha on Tuesday were treated to the rare and spectacular sight of an orca pod feeding on stingrays in Whangateau Harbour.

About 60 onlookers watched in awe from the Omaha causeway bridge as six orca hunted in the shallows.

The same orca were filmed in Kawau Bay in July by Steve Hathaway, an underwater videographer from Snells Beach. The pod includes a large male with a distinctive wiggly dorsal fin and a young orca with its dorsal fin cut off.

"I first noticed the orca just off the jetty by the Omaha boat ramp around 1.30pm, cruising up the harbour among moored boats. I headed up to the causeway where people and cars were gathered to watch the spectacle."

The occasional large flurry and splashing probably indicating they had caught a ray. They cruised under the bridge within a few metres of onlookers, three of them sharing a dismembered ray.

"On the western shore, the largest orca was in no more than a metre of water and I could see he was struggling to keep his tail flaps maintaining forward motion. More splashes and flurries indicated further ray encounters.

"The orca returned and two of them passed within three metres of my vantage point close to the water on the concrete abutment. They were frustratingly close as my 300 millimetre telephoto lens could not frame them. That's when I needed a wide-angle lens. But I got one shot of an orca passing the bridge's eastern abutment.

"The pod continued hunting down the channel so I returned to the Omaha boat ramp where they passed through moored boats and within three metres of delighted visitors on the jetty pontoon."

The orca did a tour through Tramcar Bay before hugging the northern coast and passing Ti Point wharf into the harbour entrance channel.

Their visit lasted more than two hours.

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- Rodney Times

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