12-year-old captures orca hunting and eating dolphin in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf
A 12-year-old Auckland boy has captured rare video of a pod of orca hunting and killing dolphins off Auckland's east coast.
Jackson Baker and his dad Richard were out fishing north of Waiheke on September 29 when they came across the hunt in progress.
It was the second such hunt captured on camera after Waiheke man Kasey "Ox" Coghlan captured a pod of orca hunt and kill and a large bottlenose dolphin in a similar area a few days before.
Richard Baker, a past president of New Zealand Sport Fishing and current spokesman for fish stock conservation group LegaSea, said there appeared to be more dolphin activity around as snapper numbers declined and bait fish numbers rose.
He said he had not, however, seen orca hunting dolphins in the past.
Baker said Jackson took the footage himself and did most of the editing.
Coghlan said in the earlier incident, he and a friend were out fishing when they saw a commotion in the water and recognised orca hunting.
He did not approach but the dolphin, which was about 2.5m long, came towards him as it attempted to flee the pack of killer whales.
There were several nervous moments when the pressure-wave from the orca rocked their five-metre boat from underneath, he said.
The pack took turns chasing the dolphin until they wore it out and then they jumped on it repeatedly.
The orca calmed considerably and it was evident the dolphin was dead, he said.
Krista Hupman, a PhD student at Massey University's Coastal-Marine Research Group, also saw orca hunting common dolphin in the Gulf in the same period.
Hupman said it was "very unusual" behaviour and the skipper of the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari research boat she was aboard said he had only seen it twice in 10 years.
The pod appeared to be teaching a calf how to hunt and they would take turns chasing the dolphin and then "throwing" it to other members of the pod to chase.
She said it was "brutal" but "to be honest, it was watching nature at its best", she said.
It was "so fascinating" scientifically that there was no real time for sympathy for the dolphin, she said.
Hupman said there were mammal-eating orca populations in Canada but the behaviour was relatively unknown in the Hauraki Gulf.