Wild Orcas - Shelby Stanger
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Wild Orcas

Today Johnny and I saw our first wild pod of killer whales. A friend called us to tell us they were headed from the beach toward  the harbor. We raced down to the where the beach in Raglan meets the harbor, not knowing if we’d missed them or if our friend, a jokester of a guy, was possibly pulling our leg.

People have told us there is an occasional pod of orcas in the harbor, but its not easy to see them, and killer whales travel pretty damn fast. We kept our fingers crossed the drive down to the beach Two minutes after looking out to sea with binoculars, we spotted  a rush of water shooting into the sky. Then we saw the fin, a big black fin, much bigger than the dolphin fins we are used to seeing. It was pretty close to shore, most likely feeding on stingrays, according to some locals..

We have been told that orcas travel alongside Raglan towards the harbor on the incoming tide to feed on the many stingrays that lurk below. There is a famous photograph posted all around town of an orca surfing a wave in the middle of a lineup full of surfers. I am not sure how stoked I’d be sitting on my small surfboard watching a killer whale ride the same wave I was, but I am sure it’d be a memorable moment.

Orcas are fascinating animals. Their brains weight up to 15 lbs and they can eat up to 220 lbs a day. What I found most interesting is a fact I heard on the radio the other day,

Killer whales use echolocation to communicate and hunt. According to National Geographic, orcas “make sounds that travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back, revealing their location, size, and shape. They can even identify species of fish by their echo.” They are truly impressive animals, and I am lucky we had a chance to see them in their natural element. #Waybetterthanseaworld.

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