October 22, 2017
Killer whales have been spotted at beaches in the Coromandel, scaring swimmers out of the water.
The orca – a pod of five or six – were first seen cruising through the water at Hot Water Beach around 1pm on Saturday.
No sightings have been reported on Sunday.
There were about 350 people at Hot Water Beach on Saturday, Lifeguard service chairman Gary Hinds said.
“There was a group of about five or six and they were pretty close [to the shore],” Hinds said.
Lifeguards were back on duty at the weekend.
There were 10 guards working when the orca were sighted.
“I haven’t seen them come this close [to the shore] in years,” Hinds said.
“And when they do, it’s usually to eat stingray.”
The mammals then made their way around the coastline to Hahei Beach.
A beachgoer took footage of people clambering out of the water as the orca swam through the shallows.
New Zealand is home to an estimated 150 to 200 orca, according to the Department of Conservation.
They’re easily identified by their distinctive black and white markings and tall, dorsal fin.
Males are longer and bulkier than females, whereas females have smaller, more curved dorsal fins and smaller flippers.
Females are known to live to 80 or 90 years. Males reach physical maturity at 21 or so and live for a maximum of 50 to 60 years.
Orcas usually travel in family groups or pods, and pods are usually formed for life.