Globally, orcas have a varied diet – fish, seals and dolphins are just some of their prey. In New Zealand waters they have developed novel strategies for finding and feeding on rays, which are not known to be part of their diet elsewhere.
I love the New Zealand Orca! This is the first wild pod i’ve begun taking an interest in after watching Swimming With Killer Whales on Netflix. (Highly recommend!!). This is a wonderful guide from the Orca Research Trust, to learn how to ID the NZO’s.
The Wolves of the sea! There are estimated to be fewer than 200 Orcas split between three residential groups living in New Zealand waters. One off the North Island, one off the South Island, and a third group that spends its time in both. However this does not mean that they have a confined home patch and travel vast distances everyday making it very hard to find them. Although i was hoping to see them in my four months of being here my chances where very slim, so to see them on my 2nd boat trip i was astounded. Compared to those elsewhere, New Zealand orcas have an unusual diet. They are the only group known to hunt stingrays, eagle rays and electric rays as a staple food. Something that we observed whilst in their company. Each time orca are sighted the protocol is to call the Orca Hotline created by Ingrid Visser, New Zealand’s Orca Researcher. The photographs from this encounter have been sent to her, and i look forward to maybe finding out who the individual orcas are!