Coast KZN

02 Nov 2021

Rare sighting as killer whales spotted off South Coast

Shona Aylward (South Coast Herald) Picture: Rustin Naidoo watches one of the orca near his boat off Aliwal Shoal.

The recent sighting of two pods of orcas (Orcinus orca) off the South Coast surprised and thrilled many South Coasters. One of these was well-known local fisherman and waterman, Rustin Naidoo, who encountered them some three kilometres offshore on the deeper line of the world-famous Aliwal Shoal.

The killer whale, or orca, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member.

Two killer whales jump above the sea surface, showing their black, white and grey colouration. (Photo for illustration purposes only, courtesy Robert Pittman/NOAA/Wikipedia)

It was an usual sighting as the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast is usually renowned for its sightings of humpback and southern right whales migrating in the cooler months.

Naidoo was aboard his commercial fishing boat, Lucky Lady, when he and his crew spotted the first pod of around six orcas. And as if this wasn’t exceptional enough, the crew then spotted another pod of 15 to 20 orcas, just one kilometre apart.

Coming from a long line of sardine seine netters, Rustin has been fishing since the age of four. He can only recall one other sighting of orcas in the area.

“I’ve only seen orcas once before when I was fishing on my dad’s boat as a youngster. I’m at sea daily and haven’t seen anything quite like this since. It was really beautiful. They were just cruising and playing in our wake.”

Naidoo said the cooler sea temperatures could account for the orcas appearance. He said they’re known to settle in an area for a while, and in this instance they gave South Coasters a rare opportunity to spot this incredible marine animal.

Aliwal Shoal is one of two Marine Protected Areas found in the region, and with its Blue Flag Beaches and quality surf conditions, the South Coast is a true ocean-lovers paradise.

To view Naidoo’s video of the sighting, visit South Coast Tourism Facebook page or YouTube, @infosouthcoast on Twitter or Instagram, or ‘Info Ugu South Coast Tourism’ on LinkedIn.