Plenty of orcas in Sounds

Last updated 06:52 27/01/2014
Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours
Record numbers of orcas in the Marlborough Sounds
Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours
These tourists were treated to larger dolphins than usual when they came across this pod of orcase
orca fin
Garry Wills
Easily identified : Garry Wills sent this photo of an unusual orca fin.
Dolphin Watch and Nature Tours
Feels good
Jenny Schmidt
3.15pm Sunday: Orca in Onahau Bay, Queen Charlottle Sound. They were chasing stingray in Fence Bay then cruised up Onahau
Jenny Schmidt
An Orca in Onahau Bay on Sunday

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An unusually high number of orcas captivated boaties and tour operators in the Marlborough Sounds over the weekend.

Picton tour operators Dolphin Watch & Nature Tours head guide Ailie Suzuki said that none of the staff could remember seeing so many of the huge marine mammals at one time.

"I don't know who was more excited, us or our guests, it was just insane to see so many together," she said.

She was guiding a tour group near Picton on Saturday afternoon when they saw two pods of orcas, each with about 10 orcas. The pods occasionally crossed paths as they moved around the small bays.

"They were very relaxed and there was a lot of socialising going on as well as hunting.

"We also saw what looked like some mating behaviour. There were some large males and a lot of females with some young - we even saw one young orca feeding from its mum," Miss Suzuki said.

The sighting follows two other reported interactions with orcas in the Marlborough Sounds in the past week, as well as one at Whites Bay on Thursday.

Miss Suzuki said she was unsure why so many orcas were being seen this year, but it was not uncommon to sight them at this time of year.

They primarily enter the Sounds to feed on stingrays, and have also been spotted by the tour group in the past feeding on dolphins and a thresher shark.

"They are definitely top of the food chain, but there have been no reports of one attacking a human in the wild anywhere in the world. It's only in captive situations that they have been known to get aggressive towards people," Miss Suzuki said.

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- The Marlborough Express


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