The Simon’s Town Boat Company and Sea Search had an exciting day of science and discovery on Tuesday morning [January 26], when a lone killer adult male whale was sighted near Fish Hoek.

Quickly springing to action, the team had scientists and crew on-board within record time. They deployed a hydrophone and were lucky enough to record the first-ever orca vocalisation in South Africa, something they have been working on for the last two years.

“The day that unfolded delivered our complete wish list – Photo ID’s, a biopsy and certainly the most exiting was capturing the first-ever acoustic recording of a killer whale in South Africa!!” they wrote in a Facebook post.

“We left the animal at around 4pm and it was not showing any signs of leaving, which is hugely intriguing as we’ve never had a killer whale remain within a mile radius for over 9 hours. My thoughts are possibly the abundance of squid in the area & perhaps its vocalization was calling the rest of the pod.”

Take a listen here:

“Sea Search scientists who were onboard have been trying for years but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself before as all previous sightings have been fast-moving animals either on the hunt or in transit,” Sea Search told Cape Town ETC.

“Each clan has its own and very different dialect so this is an amazing start to hopefully an ever-expanding acoustic database. I’ve witnessed killer whales dozens of times but it’s still goosebumps with every new sighting.”

Killer whales, also known as orcas, are considered one of the world’s most powerful predators.

They are highly social and make a wide variety of communicative sounds. In fact, each pods makes its own distinctive noises to communicate with one another at a distance. They also use echolocation to hunt, as their sounds travel underwater until they encounter an object then bounce back, revealing their size, location and shape.

Picture: Dave Hurwitz

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