Orca excitement

Last updated 05:00 19/05/2012

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Children can learn about orca, which regularly visit the Marlborough Sounds, at a Conservation Kids New Zealand Orca Workshop in Picton tomorrow.

About 200 of the toothed whales circulate the New Zealand coast, and small pods regularly visit the Marlborough Sounds, says Conservation Kids organiser Tash Luxton.

December and January are the months when people are most likely to see them in the Sounds.

Orca are often referred to as "killer whales", but the only reported incidents of them attacking humans has been by those in captivity, Tash says.

The large, intelligent marine mammals are too big to be in concrete cages, she says, and those which are captured are typically dead within 10 years.

In the ocean, orca live for about 90 years.

Those visiting the Marlborough Sounds typically feed on stingray, and the last pod seen were showing young calves how to catch an octopus on some rocks.

Tash works for Dolphin Watch Nature Tours, which sometimes helps the Conservation Department with its work, moving wildlife from one area of the Sounds to another.

Last year, she, husband Paul Luxton and Larissa Raukawa formed a Picton branch of Conservation Kids New Zealand to give children a chance to learn about Marlborough's natural wildlife.

Dolphin Watch is their main sponsor, but the group operates independently and has a $10 annual joining fee for 5 to 12-year-old children. Casual members can make a gold coin donation to attend club meetings.

Tomorrow's workshop will include an orca quiz, a slide show and games with an orca theme.

The two-hour session starts at 2pm at the Dolphin Watch Nature Tours office on the Picton Waterfront.

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- The Marlborough Express

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