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WATCH: Close encounter with killer whales off Byron Bay

Update, 9.45am: A COMMERCIAL fisherman has spoken of watching killer whales attack a whale just off the coast of Byron Bay.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, filmed the sequence on his iPhone.

"Five or six killer whales were working together about a mile east of Byron Bay," he said.

"The orcas were at least a solid 3-4m in length."

Screenshot from a video of orcas off Byron Bay.
Screenshot from a video of orcas off Byron Bay.

The fisherman said he cut the engine of his boat to stay clear of the orcas, but a couple swam over to the boat to investigate.

President of the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia,Ronny Ling said the organisation had been monitoring the pod for a few days.

"We've had a few sightings of the pod on norther-east coast over the last of couple of days," Mr Ling said.

"The same pod of half-a-dozen orcas sighted on the weekend at Byron Bay and south west rocks."

Mr Ling said the orcas were a good example of nature in action.

"Because our whale numbers are increasing so are the predators," he said.

"We call orcas or killer whales the Wolves of the sea as they are pack animals like wolves."

Mr Ling said the orcas are very specific in which whales they target and consume.

"The take the younger and older sick, weak animals and normally drown the whale first," he said.

"They then eat the lips and tongue as their teeth are not designed to get through the blubber.

Then you have a dead whale which is then an opportunity for shark and it all goes to back to nature."

Mr Ling said any member of the public concerned about the health of marine mammals can contact ORRCA on 02 9415 3333.

 

Original story, 6.20am: THE same week that a pod of orcas, or killer whales, were filmed in the waters at South West Rocks, locals have reported seeing them off the coast right here at Byron Bay.

A local fisherman said he encountered the orcas about 1km off the coast just several days ago.

He said it was an "amazing" sight, as the killer whales feasted on a humpback whale.

Beach walkers have also come across pieces of whale on Suffolk Park Beach, which appears to have been munched by orcas.

Suffolk resident Nathan Pollock sent us these photos of his "ominous find" on the beach - several large whale pieces with big bites out of them.

Pieces of a whale washed up on a Byron Bay beach.
Pieces of a whale washed up on a Byron Bay beach. Nathan Pollock

On social media, the talk quickly moved on to what could have killed the whale, with orcas the suggested predator.

Marine Science Australia, when it shared South West Rocks Dive Centre's Facebook video of the killer whales, confirmed the Byron Bay sighting as well.

 

It's not the first time orcas have been seen on the North Coast.

Evans Head weapons range officers have reported their activities in the past, and two orcas were seen rushing balls of baitfish at Airforce Beach, Evans Head a couple of years ago.

And in May this year, a fisherman, who didn't want to be named, told Ballina Fishermen's Co-op staff that he saw a number of true killer whales while fishing near the shelf off the coast of Ballina.

The fisherman said he thought they were the traditional orcas because of their large dorsal fins - a key feature which differentiates the creatures from False Killer Whales.

Southern Cross University marine ecologist, Daniel Bucher, said "it's a very special thing" to spot killer whales here on the North Coast.

"It's not common but it's not completely unexpected either," Dr Bucher said.

"They've certainly been around for a long time."

According to Dolphin Research Australia, killer whales are the largest members of the dolphin family.

They can grow up to 9.6m in length and weigh 8-9 tonnes.

"The mouth of the Killer Whale is large and well adapted for hunting," the group explains on its website.

"They have 40-50 conical shaped teeth that point slightly backwards and inwards.

"The upper and lower teeth interlock which aids in gripping large prey and tearing it into smaller pieces which are easier to swallow."

Topics:  byron bay editors picks fisherman killer whale orca


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