A disabled orca has been spotted again for the first time since it’s initial sighting in 2013.
Marine tour guide Rainer Schmipf and his wife Silke were at sea following dolphins off the coast of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, when they saw that the dolphins were beginning to panic.
Rainer explains, ‘as the dolphins suddenly started speeding up we realised that behind the dolphins, in the far distance, there was some weird splashing happening.’
‘I manoeuvred the boat back to those areas and we realised there was a pod of five orcas that had separated common dolphins and were hunting down two right in front of us.’
As the couple watched on, they realised that they recognised the orca that was leading the hunt, as they first came across him several years ago.
This particular orca is highly distinctive, as he is missing his right pectorial fin and most of his dorsal fin.
Silke says, ‘the first time we met him in 2013 he was still a youngster. He came really close to our boat and we took pictures. Now, nearly four years later the same orca also came really close to our boat.’
Since their first sighting in 2013 when he was just a youngster, the orca has now grown from 2.5 metres long to a whopping 4-5 metres. And he’s certainly not let his disability hold him back, taking charge of the entire pod.
Rainer says, ‘it even appeared to be leading the pod. It was actively herding the dolphin.’
‘It caught the dolphin and also shared the dolphin after it was killed with the rest of the pod.’
Instead of being abandoned by it’s pod as Rainer and Silke feared, this disabled orca had been cared for and nurtured. This behaviour proves that orcas do have a social structure, and aren’t as ruthless as they were once thought to be.
Seeing that this orca was flourishing all these years later was amazing news for the couple, and the fact that he was leading the hunt made it even more remarkable.
Rainer says, ‘we’ve also got footage where you can see the orca is very agile in the water and swims upright as well as upside down. We could witness that it very well can hunt on it’s own.’
‘We’re hoping to see that orca again. It is very interesting for us and obviously all the data that we have gets sent out to diverse researchers. Hopefully there will be a happy end for that orca and he will be found again and again.’