Another rare occurence was that the killer whale remained within a mile radius for over nine hours off Fish Hoek yesterday. Picture: Twitter / Simon's Town Boat Company
Another rare occurence was that the killer whale remained within a mile radius for over nine hours off Fish Hoek yesterday. Picture: Twitter / Simon's Town Boat Company

LISTEN: First audio recording of a killer whale along SA coastline

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Jan 27, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town – A male killer whale spotted in Fish Hoek bay, Cape Town, provided researchers with enough time to get an audio clip.

It is believed to be the first audio recording of a killer whale, also known as orcas, along the South African coast. Another rare occurence was that the killer whale remained within a mile radius for over nine hours.

"Orca spotted in Fish Hoek bay this morning and the Simon's Town Boat Company and Sea Search scientists scrambled to get there. Tess Gridley managed to deploy a hydrophone and record the first ever orca vocalizations captured in SA!

’’Such are the wonders of modern technology that we can enjoy listening to the recording the same day via YouTube... The scientists now have the tough job of trying to decipher the orca-speak!" marine conservation photograph Jean Tresfon said in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.

A community of “enthusiastic bioacousticians”, the African Bioacoustics Community, also posted the audio clip and said it was the ’’very first recording of killer whale (Orcinus orca) vocalisations in South Africa to its knowledge’’.

According to Sea Search Africa, the killer whale was very “chatty’’ with researchers, who managed to get their hydrophone into the water while they were out there.

’’This morning (Tuesday) Simon jumped on board with Dave Hurwitz from Simon's Town Boat Company with the aim to photograph, biopsy and record this individual.

’’He successfully secured the hat trick and collected some amazing recordings, showing a whole range of vocalisations and calls from this individual,“ Sea Search Africa posted on social media.

The Simon's Town Boat Company posted on Facebook yesterday: ’’A day of science & discovery! A lone killer whale was sighted off Fish Hoek at around 07h00 this morning.

’’The image that was posted on the whale sighting group instantly confirmed it as an adult male. As always, we sprung into orca mode and had scientists and crew on-board within record time.

’’The day that unfolded delivered our complete wish list – photo IDs, a biopsy and certainly the most exiting was capturing the first ever acoustic recording of a killer whale in South Africa!!

’’We left the animal at around 16h00 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.'’

According to the experts at dosits.org, orcas produce sound for echolocation and communication. Scientists studying the recordings of orcas have shown that a pod will have a specific dialect.

These dialects are distinct and unique enough that researchers are able to identify pods based on the sounds that they make.

The sounds produced by an orca range from about 0.1 kHz to about 40 kHz. They produce pulsed sounds and clicks at rates of up to 5 000 per second.

IOL

Share this article:

Related Articles