A sight out of the blue; Whale watchers witness orcas kill humpback calf, then circle boat.


Byline: Marc Stapelberg marc.stapelberg@northernstar.com.au

PASSENGERS on board Out of the Blue Adventures whale watching boats had an incredible experience over the weekend, witnessing a pod of killer whales attack a humpback whale calf off Ballina.

The Ballina-based whale watching company posted the amazing videos and photos on its Facebook page.

"Today I witnessed one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen out on the ocean," they wrote.

"I am excited to share this incredible 'killer whale' experience with everyone.

"Whilst watching a mother, calf and male escort humpback frolicking off the coast of Ballina, a scene started to unfold.

"A pod of 30-plus killer whales came out of the blue and chaos began.

"The orcas tactfully separated the humpback calf from the others and preceded to drown and devour the calf.

"After this dramatic sequence of events, the pod of killer whales surrounded the boat for over two hours, which allowed our guests... to truly experience this once in a lifetime encounter."

Out of the Blue Adventures owner Dean Fox was skipper on one the tour boat when the orcas attacked the calf.

"I just saw the orca jump out of the water and land on a humpback," Mr Fox said.

"I was shocked and I couldn't believe my eyes.

"Everyone was quite shocked. It was quite sad as well and at the same time it is very rare and everyone was amazed to see the orcas."

Mr Fox said there was a definite sense of the orcas interacting with the boat once they had finished their hunt.

"We were quite a way away but once the kill was over, they hung around for quite a while after that," he said.

"The orcas came right up to the boat and it was very interesting, and they really had a good look at us for quite a while.

"They were similar to dolphins and they were very playful and were breaching next to the boat and tail slapping next to the boat and they followed the boat for a while.

"A couple of the orcas did spy ops next to the boat... they literally lift their head out of the water and have a look at us."

Mr Fox said he had seen humpbacks, dolphins, sharks, turtles, bait balls and sea birds on tours, with hammerheads coming to the surface and bull sharks even breaching.

He said one of the more stunning things to see was where humpbacks did a double breach in synchronisation.

There are two more weeks of whale watching after which Out of the Blue Adventures will start its summer tours including the Ballina to Cape Byron run and the sunset river cruise...

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