Splash of the Titans

A small pod of orcas, or killer whales, have been providing… well, killer scenes in False Bay for Dave Hurwitz over the past fortnight.

The Simon’s Town boat-based whale-watch operator has watched the four whales tracking and hunting a huge school of several hundred common dolphins. Over a three-hour period on Tuesday, across an area of six nautical miles between Kalk Bay, Seal Island and Strandfontein, Hurwitz saw them catch and kill at least four and maybe as many as six dolphins.

In May 2009, Hurwitz first captured remarkable pictures of a pod of killer whales hunting and catching a dolphin, and he believes it’s the same group.

OrcaAn immense orca, or killer whale, breaches as it chases down its prey a common dolphin, visible just to left of the whales head in False Bay earlier this week. Pictures: Dave Hurwitz Simons Town Boat Company
“I’ve been going out into the bay my whole life and until then (2009), I’d really only had one or two sightings. Since then I’ve seen them a total of five times, but now they’ve been around constantly for two weeks.”

He said that for some reason, bait fish had been present in the bay for much of the past year.

“It’s been a phenomenal period, unbelievable. Today (Wednesday) for example, I followed the orcas and I also saw four Bryde’s whales and about 500 or 600 penguins feeding, and I’ve also been seeing the dolphins feeding on a daily basis, which is not something we see that often.

“I’m absolutely bedonderd (mad) about these animals (the killer whales) and I’ll sit for 12 hours watching them.”

He believed there might also be a male orca associated with the pod, but this animal was not always with the others.

“Because when I was tracking them for quite some time on Saturday, I suddenly saw this huge fin. I tracked it for a while but it was really motoring towards Cape Point and for some reason it’s not in the bay this morning.”

OrcaAn Orca pod chases a school of dolphins in False Bay. A boat operator saw them kill at least four. Picture: Dave Hurwitz Simons Town Boat Companym>
He reminded other boaters it was against the law to approach whales and dolphins directly and that the authorities were watching the situation. “We really don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry going out and harassing them,” he said.

To see all Hurwitz’s pictures, visit

A little orca info

The killer whale, or Orcinus orca, is a toothed whale; an apex predator with no natural enemies, except for humans.

It’s possibly the world’s most widespread mammal, occurring in all oceans from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

Killer whales are, on average, between 7m and 8m long and weigh around eight tons.

They are highly social and swim in pods of up to 50.

They can stay submerged for up to four minutes, and can reach a speed of 50km/h.

Orcas eat fish, squid, birds, turtles, seals and dolphins, and attack large whales, hunting in packs.
Article source: Daily News   |  Media source: Dave Hurwitz
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