Orca's In False Bay a Killer Sighting Hot

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Killer Whale

False Bay, in Cape Town, South Africa is well known for its Great White Sharks, Southern Right Whales and large seal colonies. It is less well known for the occasional Orca pod entering the bay to hunt dolphin, seals and game fish.

Dave Hurwitz, from the Simon's Town Boat Company, has had several sightings in the last two months, a rather unusual occurrence as they don't not often spend so much time in False Bay.

The killer whale (Orcinus orca), also referred to as the orca whale or orca, and less commonly as the blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from the frigid Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. Killer whales as a species have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey.

 False Bay | ©Arne PurvesSunrise over False Bay

Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as sea lions, seals, walruses, and even large whales. Killer whales are regarded as apex predators, lacking natural predators. Killer whales are highly social; some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups which are the most stable of any animal species. Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviors, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been described as manifestations of culture (reference: Wikipedia).

Dave had this to say about his sighting in April, "The pod size was about 9 including 2 males (first time we’ve sighted males in the bay) & 1 very young calf. They were first spotted hunting dolphins at about midday just east of Roman Rock Lighthouse – they killed one (probably teaching the calf) & then lost interest & headed off towards Seal Island – the dolphins moved off. I followed them for 11 miles as they continued on a course towards Rooiels & left them. On previous occasions Orcas have hung-around for a few weeks & we are certainly going to remain on high alert & will hopefully enjoy further sightings".

Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company

Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company


Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company


Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company


Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company

A more recent sighting in May once again provided great photographic opportunities of the Orcas. The extended stay of the Orca's in False Bay is probably in response to the abundance of prey that has frequented the bay in the past few months. Large shoals of game and bait fish have attracted pods of common dolphin which in turn have attracted the larger predators.

Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company

Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company


Orca's in False Bay | ©Dave Hurwitz | Simonstown Boat Company


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The thriving seal colony in False Bay also ensures a year round source of prey for larger apex predators and it would appear that the Orcas are making great use of this abundance to hunt and teach their young.

It also highlights the national and international significance of False Bay as an important refuge for sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins and seals.

You can contact Dave Hurwitz on the details below:

Simon’s Town Boat Company

Cell: 083-257 7760

Web: www.boatcompany.co.za

Visit us on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/boatcompany

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Two videos shot during April 2013 in False Bay show the hive of activity in the bay. . . .

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Arne Purves
Author: Arne PurvesWebsite: http://www.arnepurves.co.zaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
About
Arne's passion for the environment, wildlife and conservation was instilled from an early age, leading to a career in nature conservation, first as a game ranger in the Natal Parks Board, a conservation officer with CapeNature and today in the City of Cape Town's Environmental Compliance Department. Photography is his creative medium of choice.