Orca near Kawau Island ****has link to Putita rescue – remove? make sure link correct!)

Orca near Kawau Island ****has link to Putita rescue - remove? make sure link correct!)

Written by Leonie Mahlke (Germany)

After the encounter with TJ we were hoping for more interactions, when we received a call for orca at Kawau Island, Auckland.  It was Labor Day and boats were spread all over the place.  In the middle of all the action we found a group of orca, ironically sleeping.  Sarah, another researcher, accompanied them until we arrived.  Putita, Yin, Rua, and another female were swimming very slowly, hardly breaking the surface to breathe.  Another guy called us, saying that he saw more orca just around the corner from where we were watching the others.  It turned out to be Ben and Nobby, which came over to check us out and spend a few minutes convoying the orca research boat.  We lost their track soon, but found another group instead.  Orca everywhere!  We watched a mother and a juvenile, as well as another male one, which were chasing and food sharing rays in Bonaccord Harbour.  Later on we saw Ben and Nobby again, which represented the perfect team in hunting rays.  They chased them in very shallow waters, which allowed us to have a closer look.  We followed them for another hour, until it was getting dark.  Astonishingly, four of the ten orca present in the area had stranded before.  Putita, Rua, Ben and Nobby (all males) had beached themselves at one time or another.  Putita had stranded twice (see the posting of Putita’s rescue on this page or on www.orcaresearch.org ).  We also spotted Top Notch today. Back in 1998 Dr Visser published a scientific article, which presented information about Top Notch and how he was covered in bite marks from other orca.  If you want to read this paper, you can download it on www.orcaresearch.orc. It is called “Prolific body and collapsing dorsal fins on killer whales (Orcinus orca) in New Zealand waters” All his scars healed up, but you can still see the distinctive marks on his dorsal fin edge.

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