Transient Killer Whales hunting Bottlenose Dolphins in Algoa Bay.Saturday, 9th January 2021
By Lloyd Edwards
What an incredible sighting of a male, female and calf killer whales hunting Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins at Brenton Island in Algoa Bay on our last cruise to the St Croix Island group. This is our sixth sighting of these animals since Jake first saw them off Cape Recife on the 31st October. On the 7th November another pod was seen at the same islands, on the 12 November I saw and photographed the first pod again off my house in Seaview, on 25th November another pod was videoed off Shark Rock Pier and then on 5th January a male was photographed off Seaview. There have also been numerous sightings from Cape St Francis. What an amazing ten weeks we have had with these remarkable creatures. They are termed "transient" as they do not have a fixed place of abode.
After leaving port on this particular cruise we took a slightly deeper route to the islands. When we arrived at Brenton Island we found a school of around 90 Indo-Pacific dolphins swimming very close to the “bricks”. I remarked that killer whales had been quite prolific in the bay, which is probably why the dollies were hugging the rocks. We then headed off to St Croix to take a look at the molting African penguins. After snacks I asked the passengers which route they would like to take home. A child shouted that we go back passed the port at Coega. I studiously ignored him and chose a route back past Brenton. We were almost at the island when someone shouted dolphins. I looked at where they were pointing and to my utmost joy, saw the huge upright dorsal fin of a male killer whale!
The trio made numerous approaches towards the dolphins that were continuously circling Brenton Island. By this stage they were very agitated and were racing around the island breaching clear of the water. As the killer whales approached they would stay submerged. I had my camera at the ready in anticipation of wild thrashing in the water as a killer emerged with a dolphin in its jaws. We have seen this previously. It was not to be! These transient killers do not communicate with each other when hunting, so that the dolphins cannot detect them. After numerous approaches the killers left and headed off in a Southerly direction. Maybe the dolphin’s strategy of keeping right up against the rocks paid off or possibly the killers had already eaten.