A 5m long orca called Eleven and a pod of his playmates have been cruising Whangarei Harbour feasting on eagle rays and stingrays.
After entering the harbour at about 2pm on Wednesday, the group separated into two pods in the shallow low tide on either side of the Snake Bank sandbar between McLeod’s Bay and One Tree Point as they went hunting.
Orca Research scientist Ingrid Visser, alerted to their presence via the 0800 Seeorca (0800 7336722) hotline, was able to get out on the water to document the group’s size, behaviour and identify some of the orca.
Eleven was easily identified by his size, his dorsal fin and “patchy” markings, Dr Visser said. “He’s very tolerant. As long as you approach with respect he’ll let you get within arm’s length of him.”
True to his nature, Eleven ignored the boat as he got on with the day’s hunt, at one time even swimming underneath it.