Orca family spotted frolicking in the Bay

Zandile Mbabela mbabelaz@avusa.co.za

IN a rare sighting, a family of orcas has been spotted frolicking off Nelson Mandela Bay.

Tour operator Lloyd Edwards, who runs a whale-watching business, took to the waters on Friday with his fiancée, Lorien Pichegru, after hearing that the adult male and female whales and their calf had been seen right in front of their Seaview home.

The orcas – more commonly known as killer whales – were exceptionally friendly.

Edwards said orca sightings were few and far between, and were only seen in the area about twice a year.

“But what was particularly rare was that unlike normally – when they just go about their business – the whales were very active and interacted with us, which gave us great picture opportunities,” he said.

Edwards said they had seen the fin of a fully grown male breaking the surface as they neared Sardinia Bay – after a trip from the Port Elizabeth harbour past Cape Recife, Noordhook, Willows and Schoemakerskop.

“We were then treated to an awesome show of breaching, tail slapping and back flips. On numerous occasions, the large male ‘spy-hopped’ right in front of our boat. We followed them all the way to Cape Recife where they headed for Bird Island.”

The orcas – which can change the shape of their eye lenses and have excellent vision out of the water – feed mainly on bottlenose and common dolphins when in the Bay.

Edwards said the male’s dorsal fin was the largest he had seen in his 20 years of boating in the bay.

The NSRI has urged swimmers along the St Francis Bay coastline to exercise caution after a shark was seen there over five days last week.

NSRI spokesman Chris Lambinon said the 5m shark had been patrolling the shoreline for a few days.

“We urge people to exercise caution as the shark has been spotted close to the shores,” he said.

Lambinon said shark-fishing permits issued in the area might have led to an increased presence.

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