x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Rarely sighted killer whales spotted in Abu Dhabi waters

The National has obtained video footage of the two orcas, one of which is about seven metres long.
Mr Al Qemzi saw the two distinctive black-and-white predators at around 10:30am on Monday March 9 near Ras Gharab island. Courtesy Ahmed Al Qemzi
Mr Al Qemzi saw the two distinctive black-and-white predators at around 10:30am on Monday March 9 near Ras Gharab island. Courtesy Ahmed Al Qemzi

ABU DHABI // A rare sighting of killer whales has been made off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

Ahmed Al Qemzi, who works at the maritime division of the Department of Transport, saw two of the creatures while carrying out routine inspections.

Mr Al Qemzi took videos of the two predators about 10.30am on Monday near Ras Ghurab island.

The footage has attracted great interest on social media.

One of the beasts – members of the dolphin family that are also known as orcas or sea wolves – was at least 7 metres long.

Orcas are a rare sight locally and very little is known about local population and behaviour, said Dr Ada Natoli, founder and coordinator of the UAE Dolphin Project.

Mr Al Qemzi stopped his boat when reduced visibility prompted him to turn on the GPS system. He heard a large creature in the water around him.

“It was two of them and one was between 7 and 8 metres,” said Mr Al Qemzi, 33.

The 10-minute encounter was in water about 3 metres deep and he recorded a few videos that he later shared on social media.

“I did not expect these videos to get such interest,” Mr Al Qemzi said.

Adept hunters, male orcas reach up to 10 metres and females up to 8.5 metres.

Wissem Kasdaghli, a maritime infrastructure specialist and a colleague of Mr Al Qemzi, said many influential people had contacted his workmate over the sighting.

Dr Natoli has been gathering information on dolphins since December 2013. Sightings can provide vital data about the animals’ distribution and behaviour, she said.

Like all dolphins, killer whales can be easily identified by their dorsal fins. Those seen by Mr Al Qemzi were a male and a female, she said.

“The key thing in this area is to gather information and public reports are the most viable source of information we have at the moment,” Dr Natoli said.

In other parts of the world, killer whales can either live in a set area or be migratory, covering large distances in search of food.

People wishing to contribute to Dr Natoli’s research can visit www.uaedolphinproject.org.

Watch the video.

vtodorova@thenational.ae