Pilot Whale Sighting
Posted on Sunday, 15 May 2011
We have been running Pelagic Shark Trips since 1999. Chris, Poenas & I just love these trips. We are venturing out into the open ocean off the most South Western tip of Africa. This trip is truly a marine adventure with such a great variety of marine life possible to encounter.
Our target species is Mako and Blue sharks but the open ocean sea birds are also a huge highlight. After New Zealand the waters off Cape Point are said to be the best for seeing a large variety of sea birds. Up to 7 species of albatross are possible as well as petrels, terns, shearwaters and so many others.
The waters off Cape Point are extremely nutrient rich and not only support the sharks and birds but also a large amount of cetacean species.
On Sunday we did not have any guests booked and as the weather forecast was so good we decided to head offshore with just the Apex crew to enjoy a good day’s sharking together!
On the way out one of our new crew members, Amy, was asking me about what whales or dolphins we could possibly see. Not 30 minutes later, we came across a school of about 100 Dusky Dolphins. We had not seen this species of dolphin for nearly 3 years so it was really exciting to get close to them again.
Once out in the “deep” we had 4/5 blue sharks up at the boat. The guys were enjoying a great dive with these beautiful sharks but this was suddenly interrupted.
About 100 meters away Chris spotted a large disturbance in the water. After a closer look it appeared that a herd of wild horses was galloping towards us, such was the velocity with which this pod of pilot whales was traveling.
Chris, still struggling with his case of “orcalitis” , thought they may have been killer whales but as they raced past we identified them as pilot whales, most likely short-finned.
After a quick decision we decided to leave the blue sharks and pursue the pilot whales. Easy choice as this was only the 5th time we have seen them!
We estimated there to be about 60 animals in this pod, a mixture of adults and juveniles. They were completely unfazed by the boat but we were careful to only stop ahead of them and wait until they came across us. We then turned the engines off and just listened and watched as they cruised at about 8 knots past us. The noise of rushing water was spectacular!
A number of them were pretty curious with the boat and would dive beneath us for a really good look.
We also tracked alongside them for a while and just really enjoyed & appreciated getting such a great look at these animals.