A simple fishing trip off East End turned into a whale of a time for two men Wednesday morning.
Ron Hargrave, whose day job is chef at Tukka Restaurant, and a friend had just dropped some lines in the water shortly after 7am when they spotted fins in the water in front of them. It was a pod of four killer whales.
“They literally just showed up,” Mr. Hargrave said. “I thought ‘wow, that’s really, really cool’.”
The whales made a loop around the 16-foot boat and then went under.
“I didn’t realise how fast they move,” he said.
The largest of the whales had a fin that was about 4 feet in length. “They’re huge; massive.”
Mr. Hargrave said he had seen killer whales of the coast of Vancouver Island, but didn’t know they travelled through Cayman waters.
Oliver Dubock, volunteer researcher at the Department of Environment, said it’s probably the same pod that’s been spotted during the past three years off Cayman’s shores.
“They are spotted very, very rarely, but it’s always this time of year; before winter,” Mr. Dubock said. “We know that they come to the Caribbean and that they’re more than likely coming here to mate and give birth. They spend most of their time feeding in colder water and use tropical water to give birth.”
The DoE would appreciate it if anyone who sees any whales can get good identification photos of them, especially of the dorsal fins.
But Mr. Dubock warns people who encounter the whales not to chase after them and don’t steam right toward them.
“Keep a respectable distance, drive down in front of them and give them a wide berth. Let them come to you. Don’t get in the water with them,” he said.
It’s not likely the whales will stick around, though.
“Whales just steam through,” he said. “They’ll be here today and gone tomorrow.”
Last year, a pod was seen off all three Cayman Islands.
“They are very clever and their main sense is sound,” Mr. Dubock said. “If people get too close the noise from the prop can put them off.”
Members of the public who sight large marine animals are asked to report them to DoE, which collects information on sightings and strandings. The public is asked to report large marine animal sightings by calling 949-8469 or e-mailing [email protected]