Pilot Whales

Pilot Whales

Pilot whales were sighted between the Poor Knight Islands and the Tutukaka Coast.  Given that so little is known about this species, despite the fact that they strand so relatively frequently, we set out to observe and photograph them.  We had the good fortune to encounter them in good sea conditions, so we could do photo-identification. Estimates put the group at over 50 animals – but as they were spread out over approximately 5 km it was difficult to get exact numbers.  Sam & Leonie, the two current Orca Research Trust volunteers have now begun processing the more than 2000 photos we took, to see if there are any matches to the recent (and earlier) pilot whale strandings.  During the observations we also saw a small group of pelagic bottlenose dolphins accompanying the pilot whales.  We were also lucky to see the pilot whales spy hopping and socializing.  There were a number of very young calves present, which can be identified by their paler grey skin.  When Dr Visser entered the water, one group came right over to her and she managed to get a photograph of a calf swimming right underneath its mother.

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