Report on Illegal Fishing Activity in Tawharanui Marine Reserve on New Years Day 2014

On New Years Day 2014 I was on a yacht with nine other people in northern Omaha Bay anchored near the shore when a large orca surfaced near the boat.  The individual was instantly recognizable as Funky Monkey, a large male associated with a pod which frequents this area.

Soon the orca moved off towards the Whangateau Harbour entrance and we followed at a safe distance.  Five other orca joined the large one just inside the entrance and they appeared to be heading further into the harbour where they may have been intending to hunt eaglerays as has happened in the past with the same pod (Orca make lunchtime raid on rays of Whangateau ).

At this point about six runabouts arrived to watch the orca.  The intense boating activity seemed too much for the orca and they soon turned and cruised out through the harbour entrance (Amazing orca encounter for New Year and birthday treat).  One boat in particular was seen to move very close to the orca which protested by tail slapping on the water surface.  This boat had four fishing rods standing up in rod holders (Figure 1)

Figure 1.  This boat was clearly getting too close to the orca in the Ti Point channel.  Note the four fishing rods standing in rod holders.

Figure 1. This boat was clearly getting too close to the orca in the Ti Point channel. Note the four fishing rods standing in rod holders.

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Amazing Orca Encounter for New Year and Birthday Treat

The large male orca Funky Monkey has a very large but distinctly wiggly dorsal fin.

The large male orca Funky Monkey has a very large but distinctly wiggly dorsal fin.

Visitors and residents at Omaha and Whangateau had the most amazing encounter with a pod of orca on New Years day.  But the day also had a special difference, with an air of deja-vu.

Omaha boat ramp users may recognize Amadis, a 40-foot yacht moored off the Omaha boat ramp, with a distinctive graphic of a hammerhead shark on the bow.  Amadis is owned by Lily Kozmian-Ledward, a Masters student at the Leigh Marine Laboratory studying Bryde’s whales and other marine megafauna in the Hauraki Gulf.

Lily’s yacht Amadis has a distinctive hammerhead shark drawing on the bow.

Lily’s yacht Amadis has a distinctive hammerhead shark drawing on the bow.

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Orca Make Lunchtime Raid on Rays of Whangateau

Three orca share an eagleray before passing southward under the causeway bridge.

Three orca share an eagleray before passing southward under the causeway bridge.

Visitors to Omaha yesterday were treated to a rare and spectacular sight of a pod of orca feeding on rays in Whangateau Harbour.  About 60 onlookers watched in awe from the Omaha causeway  bridge as six orca hunted rays in the shallows, ripping one apart before their eyes before cruising under the bridge and continuing their hunt in very shallow water south of the causeway. [Read more…]