Spectacular moment orca pod cruise up, shove fishing boat caught on video

December 16, 2018

The fish may not have been biting, but a pod of curious orcas have turned one Upper Hutt man’s fishing trip into one he’ll never forget.

Gareth Pritchard was with friends Garry and Glen Toms near Mana Island, south of Kapiti Island, when they had the incredibly close encounter on Saturday – and they caught it all on video.

Only moments after Mr Pritchard whipped out his phone to film, one orca gets a little too close for comfort, swimming underneath his boat and shoving it.

The rest of the pod continue to cruise around the fishers, completely unaware of their starstruck audience.

“Look at the size of that monster!” Mr Pritchard can be heard saying in the video.

He told Newshub he was stunned by the once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

“We were all bloody excited when it happened, but we didn’t expect it to come up and push the boat – twice!” Mr Pritchard said.

“I was a bit shocked, I fell over. I was stunned… He gave it quite a shove. It was an experience that doesn’t happen to people very often.”

The group’s excitement is obvious in the video, as they all laugh and try to process what just happened.

“The fish are gone now, I’ll tell you that much,” one friend can be heard pointing out as the orcas meander away again.

“We [also] laughed at the point my friend’s boat is named ‘Finn Fish’ and didn’t want to rename it ‘Flipped Fish’!” Mr Pritchard said.

The new friends were only passing through, hanging around for about a minute-and-a-half before moving on.

But it’s turned a lacklustre fishing trip into a memory of a lifetime.

To watch the VIDEO and read the Source visit News Hub.co.nz

Extraordinary drone footage shows woman surrounded by orca whales while out for Coromandel swim

Extraordinary drone footage has emerged of the moment a Coromandel swimmer found herself encircled by a pod of orca whales.

Judie Johnson, in her 60s, was swimming alone at Hahei Beach last week when three orca sidled up to her in the water.

The orca are seen playfully swimming around her, with the largest nearly nipping at her toes.

“There was a shape that went under me, like a huge shape and I thought [it was] dolphins and I was quite excited, and then I saw the great white colour on the back.

“I was also thinking they eat seals and I’m in a black wetsuit,” Ms Johnson told 1 NEWS.

The Hahei resident initially got out of the water but, to the surprise of onlookers, returned to complete her training swim.

She was again surrounded by the three orca, believed to be an adult, juvenile and calf.

Ms Johnson says she remembers gazing directly into the adult orca’s huge eyes, her fear quickly turning to joy.

“It was so different to anything that’s happened to me before, and I thought, no, this is a life-changing experience.

“They were as interested and curious about me as I was about them.”

The drone footage was captured by visiting Australian tourist, Dylan Brayshaw, who witnessed the encounter from the beach.

“I would have thought she would have just stayed out of the water.

“I’ve seen trainers get harmed in captivity but in the wild I didn’t know what to expect,” Mr Brayshaw said.

Orca expert Dr Regina Eisert says the swimmer wasn’t in danger.

“Killer whales are the largest of the dolphin family so they are just big dolphins with a fancy paint job and we all know dolphins are very, very smart and very playful,” she said.

But conservationists do warn swimmers should not approach marine mammals.

Drone users require permit from the Department of Conservation if filming within 150m of a marine mammal.

To read the FULL article and watch VIDEO visit the source at tvnz.co.nz

Family of orcas circle diver off the coast of New Zealand

December 9, 2018

This diver experienced an epic encounter with a family of orcas while collecting sea urchin off the coast of New Zealand.

Footage shows a group of ‘curious’ orcas closely circling Rowan Virbickas.

A playful juvenile can be seen pulling Rowan’s fin before swimming away with the rest of the pod.

“I was working away catching sea urchin when this friendly baby orca came flying at me followed by its family,” Rowan said.

”They played all around me for over a minute, then disappeared for a minute while I fumbled for my GoPro, then raced back and kept playing for another minute and a half. It was Amazing.”

Source: uk.news.yahoo.com

Orca ‘apocalypse’: half of killer whales doomed to die from pollution

September 27, 2018

At least half of the world’s killer whale populations are doomed to extinction due to toxic and persistent pollution of the oceans, according to a major new study.

Although the poisonous chemicals, PCBs, have been banned for decades, they are still leaking into the seas. They become concentrated up the food chain; as a result, killer whales, the top predators, are the most contaminated animals on the planet. Worse, their fat-rich milk passes on very high doses to their newborn calves.

PCB concentrations found in killer whales can be 100 times safe levels and severely damage reproductive organs, cause cancer and damage the immune system. The new research analysed the prospects for killer whale populations over the next century and found those offshore from industrialised nations could vanish as soon as 30-50 years.

Among those most at risk are the UK’s last pod, where a recent death revealed one of the highest PCB levels ever recorded. Others off Gibraltar, Japan and Brazil and in the north-east Pacific are also in great danger. Killer whales are one of the most widespread mammals on earth but have already been lost in the North Sea, around Spain and many other places.

“It is like a killer whale apocalypse,” said Paul Jepson at the Zoological Society of London, part of the international research team behind the new study. “Even in a pristine condition they are very slow to reproduce.” Healthy killer whales take 20 years to reach peak sexual maturity and 18 months to gestate a calf.

PCBs were used around the world since the 1930s in electrical components, plastics and paints but their toxicity has been known for 50 years. They were banned by nations in the 1970s and 1980s but 80% of the 1m tonnes produced have yet to be destroyed and are still leaking into the seas from landfills and other sources.

The international Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants came into force in 2004 to tackle the issue, but Jepson said the clean-up is way behind schedule. “I think the Stockholm Convention is failing,” he said. “The only area where I am optimistic is the US. They alone produced 50% of all PCBs, but they have been getting PCB levels down consistently for decades. All we have done in Europe is ban them and then hope they go away.”

The researchers said PCBs are just one pollutant found in killer whales, with “a long list of additional known and as yet unmeasured contaminants present”. Further problems for killer whales include the loss of key prey species such as tuna and sharks to overfishing and also growing underwater noise pollution.

The new research, published in the journal Science, examined PCB contamination in 351 killer whales, the largest analysis yet. The scientists then took existing data on how PCBs affect calf survival and immune systems in whales and used this to model how populations will fare in the future. “Populations of Japan, Brazil, Northeast Pacific, Strait of Gibraltar, and the United Kingdom are all tending toward complete collapse,” they concluded.

Lucy Babey, deputy director at conservation group Orca, said: “Our abysmal failures to control chemical pollution ending up in our oceans has caused a killer whale catastrophe on an epic scale. It is essential that requirements to dispose safely of PCBs under the Stockholm Convention are made legally binding at the next meeting in May 2019 to help stop this scandal.” Scientists have previously found “extraordinary” levels of toxic pollution even in the 10km-deep Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean.

“This new study is a global red alert on the state of our oceans,” said Jennifer Lonsdale, chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s whales group. “If the UK government wants its [proposed] Environment Act to be world-leading, it must set ambitious targets on PCB disposal and protect against further chemical pollution of our waters.”

The research shows that killer whale populations in the high north, off Norway, Iceland, Canada and the Faroes, are far less contaminated due to their distance from major PCB sources. ”The only thing that gives me hope about killer whales in the longer term is, yes, we are going to lose populations all over the industrialised areas, but there are populations that are doing reasonably well in the Arctic,” said Jepson.

If a global clean-up, which would take decades, can be achieved, these populations could eventually repopulate empty regions, he said, noting that killer whales are very intelligent, have strong family bonds and hunt in packs. “It is an incredibly adaptive species – they have been able to [live] from the Arctic to the Antarctic and everywhere in between.”

He praised the billion-dollar “superfund” clean-ups in the US, such as in the Hudson River and Puget Sound, where the polluter has paid most of the costs: “The US is going way beyond the Stockholm Convention because they know how toxic PCBs are.”

Source: The Guardian.com

Orca washed up on Auckland beach

March 14, 2017

The dead killer whale was found on Monday at Whatipu Beach, West Auckland.

An orca has washed up at Whatipu beach in West Auckland, possibly the victim of being hit by a boat.

The adult male whale was reported to the Department of Conservation on Monday, which then sought permission from local iwi to launch a post-mortem investigation.

Coastal-Marine Research Group Director Karen Stockin said photographs taken by Department of Conservation rangers showed possible blunt force trauma to the head.

“At this stage it’s too early to speculate what the cause of the trauma may be, although boat strike is an obvious consideration,” Stockin said.

A team from Auckland’s Massey University will examine the animal on Tuesday afternoon.

They aim to take a biological sampling of the animal to assess diet and pollution loads.

Orcas are considered “nationally critical” in New Zealand with known threats being fisheries interactions and boat strike.

Marine mammals in New Zealand are legally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1978).

Anyone who accidentally kills or injures a marine mammal is required to report the incident to a fishery officer or the Department of Conservation within 48 hours.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations (1992) vessels must avoid rapid changes in both speed and direction and not exceed speeds faster than the slowest mammal within 300 metres.

Vessels travelling at speeds over 15 knots are more likely to kill a whale or dolphin if they hit it and can still cause severe damage if travelling over five knots.

Source: Stuff.co.nz

Mysterious orcas are filmed underwater for the first time: Pod of the elusive and majestic type D killer whales is spotted by chance by tourists returning from Antarctica

March 2, 2018

  • These creatures have only been spotted a handful of times in the past 70 years
  • A submerged camera caught the incredible underwater footage of the pod
  • Some experts believe they should even qualify as their own species 
  • Sighting was particularly rare as these creatures live in deep waters far from land

A pod of illusive type D killer whales has been filmed underwater for the first time by surprised researchers on a tourist boat returning from Antarctica.

These majestic creatures – which were only identified in 1955 – have only been spotted a handful of times in the past 70 years.

A submerged camera caught the unique underwater footage of the pod as they moved in synchrony with one another.

These incredible creatures are so distinct from other orcas some experts believe they should even qualify as their own species. 

‘They were playing and seemed to be following our boat… they just kept popping up,’ said Gregg Treinish, executive director of Adventure Scientists who was a guest speaker on the Lindland expedition.

As well as being seen by tourists on the boat, an underwater camera captured these rare animals floating beneath the surface, writesNational Geographic, as part of an in-depth feature.

The sighting was particularly rare as these creatures generally live in deep waters far from land.

Compared to normal dolphins, these orcas have more bulbous heads and sharper dorstal fins.

The patches over their eyes are smaller than on other species – A, B and C – which are all known to dwell in Antarctic waters.

‘We know next to nothing about what they feed on, their longevity, their migrations, if any, or their social structure,’ said Conor Ryan, a naturalist on the Lindblad expedition.

When they were first discovered after a mass stranding in New Zealand in the 1950s they were thought to be a mutated type of the worldwide orca species.

They are especially distinctive due to their small eye patches, writes UK Whales.

Type A is the most common type of orca. They are the large, black and white ones with white eye patches that most people are used to seeing.

Type B is smaller and more grey than black on their darker areas. Type C is the smallest with white eye patches slanted at an angle to the body.

Although there have been few sightings of the type D variety there have been enough sightings for experts to realise they are a unique ecotype and not just a mutation.

They have been seen eating Patagonian toothfish but it is unknown if they exclusively eat fish.

Experts believe that if they are a new species they could be the largest undescribed animal left on the planet.


These majestic creatures – which were only identified in 1955 – have only been spotted a handful of times in the past 70 years.

When they were first discovered after a mass stranding in New Zealand in the 1950s they were thought to be a mutated type of the worldwide orca species.

They are so distinct from other orcas some experts believe they should even qualify as their own species.

Compared to normal dolphins, these orcas have more bulbous heads and sharper dorstal fins.

The patches over their eyes are smaller than on other species – A, B and C – which are all known to dwell in Antarctic waters.

They are especially distinctive due to their small eye patches. 

They have been seen eating Patagonian toothfish but it is unknown if they exclusively eat fish.

Experts believe that if they are a new species they could be the largest undescribed animal left on the planet.

Source: Daily Mail.co.uk

Beached orca rescued by holidaymakers on Papamoa Beach

December 30, 2017

A beached orca was set free by holidaymakers on Papamoa Beach.

Ben Waru was walking along the beach at 8am on Saturday with his family and mate Dan Jackson when the group saw three orcas in the water.

“They were just playing and then all of a sudden they turned around. The water started to churn and we thought they were chasing fish or stingrays,” Waru said.

“Then one of the bigger ones chased a stingray into shore and we saw it get caught up.”

Waru and Jackson watched to see if the orca would get itself out, but after a few minutes it was still stuck.

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“We started walking towards the whale and then we decided to jump in and help guide it out,” Waru said.

“I just thought I needed to get in and try to help.”

At first Waru thought it was a pilot whale, but once he got a bit closer he saw its wide eyes and big teeth. It was about four metres long, Waru said.

The pair got into waist deep water and were joined by two other men and a dog.

“Jackson has saved a whale before and told us to stay away from its fin, so we wouldn’t hurt it.

“It was being hit by the waves, pushing it sideways, so we tried to face it towards the ocean.

“Once a couple of waves came along the whale gave a kick of its tail and it was able to free itself.”

It was all over in a few minutes, Waru said. “But, we didn’t want to waste any time. The tide was going out, so we wanted to get it out sooner rather than later.

“The sand was churning up around and it could have ended up a much worse situation.”

Waru thought the beached orca was the older of the three.

“When it was stuck its siblings were just surfing around next to it, waiting for it. I had never touched a whale before in my life. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I’m just really happy we were able to get it back to its siblings.”

Once the creature was free Waru didn’t see it again.

Waru is down from Auckland holidaying with his friends and family in Papamoa. “It’s good to be able to do our part and do a nice deed towards the end of year.”

Source: Stuff.co.nz

Watch: Orcas’ upside-down hunting moves may be a clever way to ‘zombify’ stingrays

December 6, 2017

New footage filmed near Te Horo Beach on New Zealand’s North Island has revealed yet another feeding display courtesy of the region’s famed killer whales – one that involved some upside-down flipping during the predatory pursuit. 

Orcas have long impressed us with their diverse hunting strategies. The whales rank among the most intelligent oceanic predators, and all that brain power has given rise to countless creative tactics for landing difficult meals. Orcas that eats sharks drive their toothy prey towards the surface, while their mammal-eating kin opt for collaboration while on the hunt. In New Zealand, meanwhile, ray-eating killer whales deliver their bites with careful precision so as to avoid damage from their prey’s piercing barbs

The whales featured in the Te Horo clip, which was filmed by local drone operator Jayven Moore, are likely a mother-and-calf pair. Specialisation exists even among these ray-eaters, and each individual hunting “play” is passed down to young pod members from familial matriarchs. 

Explaining the predators’ behaviour in the footage involves some speculation, but scientists suspect the adult whale’s underwater rotations serve a unique purpose.

Just like their shark relatives, many rays enter a catatonic state known as “tonic immobility” when flipped over – and it seems that some New Zealand orcas have learned to induce this condition. By grabbing a ray while swimming upside down, an orca ensures that its target animal will be unable to fight back once the whale rights itself. This “tonic tumbling” has also been observed in whales that prefer to hunt rays in their rocky hideaways: one orca will guide the prey out from its rocky refuge, flip it over and then wait for a second pod member to deliver the kill strike. 

There’s some evidence to suggest that orcas deploy the “flipping” tactic when hunting sharks, too. In the late 1990s, a female orca near the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco was observed holding a white shark upside down for 15 minutes. This likely sent the shark into a tonic trance, and the animal eventually suffocated.

The outcome in that Farallon Islands sighting may have been coincidental, but the prevalence of similar observations in ray-hunting orca groups seems to point to a learned behaviour. 

Immobilised prey makes for easier sharing – past studies have found that around 60 percent of captured rays are passed around among pod members. What’s more, ray-flipping by adult orcas gives juveniles a risk-free opportunity to engage with potentially deadly prey.

After an eight-minute chase, the orca in Moore’s clip held the captured ray in its mouth until the calf – who had been following along but not participating in the hunt – swam over to tuck in. 

Among fish-eating killer whales, it’s common for mother orcas to hold salmon in their mouths to allow calves to sample the meal. Presenting a still-living animal to young offspring, however, seems to be unique to the mammal-eating Bigg’s (formerly known as “transient”) orcas, as well as the shark-and-ray specialists found in the waters of Australia and New Zealand.  

The orcas’ upside-down moves may be a recognised hunting tactic, but it’s certainly rare to capture them on film – and Moore’s sighting hints at the exciting discoveries we have yet to make about orca social behaviour. As a newbie on the drone scene, he considers himself lucky to have observed the predatory encounter. In fact, he may have entirely missed the spectacle if not for the beachgoers who alerted him to the whales’ presence offshore. 

“We were on our way back [from a drive] and came across about four or five people on the beach looking out to the water,” he told Stuff New Zealand. “Then we spotted the dorsal fins, so decided to put up the drone. I almost wasn’t going to bother, but I’m glad I did. It was pretty amazing.”

To watch the VIDEO visit the source at Earth Touch News.com

Stranded orca whale successfully re-floated in Marlborough

November 13, 2017

A stranded orca whale has been successfully re-floated in Marlborough.

Dozens of people, including 25 Army personnel, assisted in helping the whale on Marfells Beach, south of Blenheim.

The Department of Conservation and Project Jonah also pitched in, using specially designed pontoons.

The orca is now swimming freely in deeper water.

Earlier, the Army, including 25 soldiers from New Zealand, Canada, America and Australia on a multi-national exercise in the region, started digging deep trenches in the ocean in a bid to refloat the young male orca.

World-renowned marine biologist and orca researcher Ingrid Visser had also headed south to help with the rescue operation.

The next opportunity to refloat the 6m-long orca was at 2pm on high tide.

A plane has also gone up this morning to search for a pod of orca seen in the area last night.

Grover said this was good news for the stricken mammal as it meant its family was close by and was waiting for it to be reunited.

He said the orca had survived the night thanks to the efforts of Department of Conservation staff, volunteers and locals.

But there was now no need for further volunteers with plenty of Army reinforcements and marine specialists on hand to care of the orca.

The Army had been on had since first light digging a trench to help with the refloat.

Dozens of volunteers including the Department of Conservation and medics from Project Jonah tended to the stricken mammal yesterday, wrapping it in damp cloth and keeping it as comfortable as possible between tides.

Project Jonah said volunteers had worked tirelessly through the night keeping the stranded orca cool, calm and comfortable.

Whale-Rescue.org said the Department of Conservation had requested Visser and her specialist team to help with the rescue of the stranded sub-adult male orca due to their previous experience.

Thanks to fantastic efforts from marine mammal medics overnight the Orca had remained calm and rested.

Attempts to refloat the stranded whale on the high tide yesterday were twice unsuccessful.

Sources: NZ Herald.co.nz

Killer whales scare swimmers out of water in the Coromandel

October 22, 2017

The fin looks menacing in the water behind the swimmers at Hot Water Beach.

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.

Source: Stuff.co.nz