Dolphin Watch Nature Tour guides have been treated to the sight of a pod of orca whales feeding on stingray in Queen Charlotte Sound this week.
Guide Paul Luxton said staff on board a tour boat spent about 45 minutes watching one big male, three females and three calves feeding on stingrays in Kumototo Bay on Tuesday morning.
The whales swam close to the shore, coming in quickly to catch the stingrays, and the water turned white from all the splashing, he said.
"They tend to come in [to the Sounds] about 12 to 15 times per year.
"Generally, they spend a few days feeding on the stingrays before moving on."
Mr Luxton identified one of the whales as Prop, a female with three unique cuts on her back, documented by Orca Research Trust founder and lead scientist Ingrid Visser.
"They were out around D'Urville [Island] and then in Wellington a week ago.
"The guys at Whale Watch in Kaikoura might see them [soon]."
The whales, which may be part of a larger pod of about 30 that circumnavigate the South Island, were headed south in the sound towards a shallow area good for feeding at Anakiwa.
- The Marlborough Express