Orca put on display at Mount Maunganui

Orca at Mount Main Beach, seen from Moturiki. Photo: Melissa Stewart.

Visitors to Mount Maunganui Main Beach on Saturday afternoon have been treated to a rare sight of orca putting on a show.

SunLive received a message from a reader, Angela Speer to say there was a pod of orca in the sea near Moturiki, off Mount Main Beach.

She had been out walking with her daughter Melissa Stewart to the end of Moturiki - previously known as Leisure Island - when the pair spotted the orca, and took photos.

Orca at Mount Main Beach, seen from Moturiki. Photo: Melissa Stewart.

"We counted seven or eight orca," says Angela.

"There were four or five in the front pod or group, with one very mature adult because it was a huge fin. And then we spotted another group behind them and there was a mature adult in that group as well, with possibly two more juvenile orca, because their fins were much smaller.

Angela says they saw the orca swim from the Papamoa direction towards Mauao.

"And then they disappeared for a while. We thought maybe they'd gone to hunt something or drive stingrays into shore," says Angela.

"We kept watching and we saw a dark shadow that swam at the very edge, at the far end of Leisure Island where the guys are fishing off the rocks. They pulled their lines in.

"Then we saw a dark shadow go under the water right at the edge so we changed our position and went to the rocks on the other side, right at the tip, to watch them come around the other side, and then they were actually in the main Mount Beach bay [between Moturiki and Mauao].

The orca, seen from shore at Mount Maunganui. Screenshot from video: Jenelle Stanton.

"We saw them breach the water a few times, and then we lost sight of them, so they may have swam further out to sea.

"There were two boats keeping their distance and they had gone further out waiting for them to come out of the bay and go around the Mount towards Matakana.

"It was just incredible, we were so excited. I have never seen them in real life. The excitement was because those two fins were enormous. Those orca were really big."

Another reader, Jenelle Stanton managed to capture the orca on film.

In a message to SunLive she says; "saw three whales swimming very close to shore at 2.30pm today. Was very cool to see!"

Jenelle's video captures the orca swimming parallel to the beach as a kayaker paddles past, with people watching from the water's edge.

In a second video, two orca are shown with their fins out of the water, with one appearing relaxed, as if waving. A third video taken from the water's edge shows an orca swimming just beyond the wave break.

Orca, also known as killer whales, typically come into Tauranga harbour to feed, particularly on stingrays.

The orca, seen from shore at Mount Maunganui, as a kayaker paddles past. Screenshot from video: Jenelle Stanton.

Whilst they are impressive animals the Department of Conservation do have some important advice regarding how people should interact with them if they come into contact.

Vessels should not be within 50m of a killer whale. No more than three vessels should be within 300m of any marine mammal.

Your vessel should approach orca from behind and to the side, do not circle them, obstruct their path or cut through any group.

Operate your boat slowly and quietly at 'no wake' speed when within 300m of a killer whale and you should avoid sudden noises that could startle the animals.

Sightings of orca can be reported to the DOC by calling 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468), or by filling out an online form. Sightings are always of interest and help increase the DOC's knowledge of cetacean distribution and movements around New Zealand.

The orca, seen from Moturiki at Mount Maunganui Main Beach. Photo: Angela Speer.

1 comment

Previously known as?

Posted on 25-05-2024 20:40 | By Wundrin

For heaven's sake, the place was ORIGINALLY known as Moturiki, it was not ever named after some short-lived commercial operation. "The Blowhole" and "Marineland" are a couple of other names it went by locally - both of which pre-dated the Leisure Island monicker. History did exist before 1981.

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