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False Bay Orca Sighting

written by Monique Fallows

Orca in False Bay, Cape Town.

Posted on Friday, 6 May 2016

14 April 2016


Since April 2009 Chris & I have been extremely fortunate to encounter Orcas in False Bay on 17 occasions, as well as witnessing the Orcas hunt Common dolphins a total of 23 times.

Many of the sightings have been in the mid-April time period, coinciding with the abundance of Common dolphins in the Bay.

Over the last couple weeks dolphin activity has been high and so a strange affliction known to Chris & I as “Orcalitis” struck us hard. There is only one cure for this and that’s to spend time in False Bay on the lookout for what I believe to be the most intelligent animal on the planet, and one of the most efficient predators we have ever had the privilege of spending time with.

Yip, you guessed it… the magnificent Orca!


On 14 April we departed Simon’s Town harbour in beautiful sea conditions and perfect spotting weather. We do many of these kinds of forays into The Bay but most, unfortunately, end unsuccessfully in finding Orca.

We had already spotted a large school of dolphin when driving through so we thought they were a sure thing, but once we were out at sea they had managed to evade us!


When we were about 3 miles away from Seal Island our skipper, Dave, radioed us from White Pointer II letting us know a large school of dolphin had just passed the southern end of Seal Island, and he thought he had spotted two large, black dorsal fins just behind the school. This sight was 2 miles from him so Dave wasn’t quite sure if it was two Orca or not, but never the less we started racing towards the area.

Once we reached the Island the dolphins were nowhere to be seen so we kept pushing in the direction Dave had seen them moving.

Miles of ground covered turned up a big fat zero… How on earth can 800 dolphins disappear into thin air? The answer is pretty simple… If being chased by two super predators vanishing is an absolute necessity.


Two hours into the morning we knew we had lost our opportunity so by this stage we were feeling pretty downcast as these chances are so few and far between, and especially having been so close we definitely were feeling more than a little frustrated.

Having largely given up we began a zig zag pattern back to Simon’s Town, stopping every now and then to survey an area.

About mid-way into False Bay we had stopped and as I was looking out I spotted two very big dorsal fins in the distance. Even though they disappeared literally a moment after I had first seen them, I immediately knew what I had seen… ORCA!


The next time they surfaced it was not just two animals, but a third, a fourth, and finally up to number seven were recorded!

The two animals stayed submerged for a good while but during that time we had the hydro-phone out and could clearly here the Orca making “clicking” sounds as they communicated with one another.

The next time they surfaced it was not just two animals, but a third, a fourth, and finally up to number seven were recorded! This pod was made up of three adult males, two females and two juveniles.

We soon found that the two females with their juveniles were shy so we made sure to stay a wide comfortable distance away from them.

The males however with their impressively tall dorsal fins were interactive and approachable and in the first 45 minutes of the encounter they were all happy to ride fairly close alongside our boat. 



I can never get over hearing the sound of an Orca exhaling right beside our boat. It literally gives me goose bumps seeing, hearing and feeling this incredible animal in such close proximity.

The highlight of the day was when one of the males changed direction back towards us and chose to approach our boat completely of his own accord. When he reached us he turned upside down and swam alongside us, belly up, just below the surface for a good 30 seconds.

I was screaming with excitement! Chris was trying to capture an image and our 11 month old dog, Brownie, who was only on her second ever boat trip, peered over the gunnels of the boat looking directly down at the curious Orca… it was a priceless moment!



Once the Orca had inspected us he re-joined the rest of his pod and for the next hour or so they pretty much kept their distance from us. They would often submerge for up to 10 minutes at a time and at one point we observed them feeding on the surface. Seals and gulls were attracted to the area but we were unfortunately not able to see what they had caught.


As we approached the east side of False Bay we felt that we had had an amazing experience with the Orca but that it was now time to leave them be.


Upon returning home we excitedly downloaded Chris’ images to check our Orca database and see if they were any of the previous pods or individuals we had observed before. There were no matches making this the 7th Orca pod we have recorded in False Bay since 2009.


Exciting times indeed, and yet another remarkable encounter with a phenomenal predator!


Thank you False Bay…


Read more of our Orca Blogs below!

Orca with Dr Ingrid Visser

March 2015: Orca Sighting

May 2013: Orca Sighting

April 2013: Orca Sighting


Common dolphins, False Bay, Orcas

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