ORCAS SIGHTED - BAY MARINE PROTECTED AREA
Monday, 2nd November 2020
News from the marine section of Addo Elephant National Park - Algoa Bay Marine Protected Area by Raggie Charters
Killer whales (orcas) were spotted in Algoa Bay this past weekend. As these apex predators usually spend their time in deeper waters, guests of Raggie Charters were in for a real treat!
"This last Saturday started like any other day with us meeting our guests at the Nelson Mandela Bay Yacht Club where we conduct a briefing about the tour to follow and our education, conservation and research projects. After becoming properly acquainted with our guests, we walked down to our boat where we conducted our routine safety briefing and exited the harbour. It at this moment that I received a call on my cell from fellow Raggy Charters skipper, Warren Tarboton who happened to be out fishing with his dad off their personal boat. Warren informed me that they had come across a large pod of killer whales 2 miles south of Cape Recife Lighthouse. After making sure that Warren was not joking we set a course for Cape Recife!
Whilst on route we encountered a small pod of bottlenose dolphins spread out in the shallows off the beachfront. We had a tough decision to make: should we skip the dolphins and rush to try and find the killer whales or do we stop for the sighting? Keeping our excitement at bay, we made the only real choice and that was to spend our permitted time with the dolphins as there was no guarantee that we would be able to find them again. Although the dolphins were spread out in a large area, the calm conditions and a few inquisitive individuals made for an excellent sighting. We left the dolphins to carry on with their business and made haste towards Cape Recife. As we neared Cape Recife Point, the sea conditions worsened as we were losing the shelter of the bay, we made a quick pit stop to ensure our guests were all holding on or seated comfortably, and to inform them that there was a sighting off the point that would be worth the detour and the bumpy ride! We arrived on the scene to find what we estimated to be a pod of 8 orcas consisting of one large male, two adult females and numerous calves ranging in size. Reports from other boats in the area led us to believe that the size of the pod could have been more than double that number. It was tricky to get a good sighting of the pod as they were staying down for a few minutes at a time whilst travelling in a wide circles. We managed to get a few short looks at them on either side of the boat before they vanished. Our attempts to relocate the pod proved unsuccessful, so we continued with our tour out to St Croix island.
We were amazed how quickly the pod disappeared. A good reminder of how the cetaceans we observe are the ones who ultimately control the sightings that we have. We feel lucky and privileged any time we get to see orcas in our waters. The orcas are transient and roam huge areas, making it extremely difficult to track them down for regular sightings. We can only hope that they stick around for a while, so that we can get another chance to see them on one of our next cruises out into Algoa Bay."