A whale of a time as orcas return

02:49, Jan 23 2014
Orca spotting: A male orca and a much smaller female were photographed hunting in Four Fathom Bay in the Pelorus Sound

Dale Guthrie ran to his boat to get a closer look as soon as he spotted orcas in the bay beyond his Pelorus Sound house.

He and his family spent two hours on Saturday following a pair of orcas around the Sound, observing their hunting skills and picking up an entourage of dolphins.

The Guthries were surprised when the orcas returned to their area of the Sound yesterday.

Incredible: Kaikoura produces some of the best opportunities for nature photos, particularly out on the water, and this stunning shot has to be the cream of the crop so far this season. It shows a male orca breaching. His name is Koru and he was among a pod of at least 15 orca which have been spotted off the coast.

"We did not expect to see them again four days later," he said.

"It was a pleasant surprise, they just popped up out of the water again.

"We usually get to see them once and then they move on."


On Saturday the family followed the orcas as they hunted along the edge of bays.

"Occasionally they would stop and disappear and the surface of the water swelled and moved as they went down and hunted the rays," he said.

They were careful to keep a distance between their boat and the orcas, but on one occasion one of the orca came up unexpectedly right in front of them.

"We kept a safe distance, but they would surprise us by coming over to check us out from time to time," he said.

"I finally managed to get a good photo of them at Four Fathom Bay and I just had to share it, it was such a lucky shot and beautiful to see," he said.

The fin of the orca, which he assumed was a male, was very big; he estimated it at about 1.5 metres high.

The family were not surprised to see the orcas, just excited.

"You can almost set your watch to them - they are here every January, it just differs by a week or two it seems," Mr Guthrie said.

The pod of dolphins added to the maritime adventure.

"The dolphins chased our boat for a long time and it really seemed, if they could, they would have jumped on board."

The Marlborough Express