It's a Match! Killer Whales sighted off Abu Dhabi, photographed off Sri Lanka 7 years later.

The first record of trans-Indian Ocean movement.

 

The following article is shared from the WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) website and can be viewed here.

 

Last week, Orca Project Sri Lanka announced that they had matched two individuals from their catalogue to orcas photographed some 3,300 kilometres away, across the Arabian Sea in Abu Dhabi. This exciting finding is the first ever record of a trans-Indian Ocean match and demonstrates how far these orcas can travel.

The two individuals, orcas OM015 ‘Arion’ and OM016 ‘Lassana’, were first sighted off Mirissa in southern Sri Lanka earlier this year by whale watch operator Raja and the Whales. Their distinctive dorsal fins clearly match those of a pair of orcas photographed in 2008 off Abu Dhabi, in the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. Orca experts Robert Pitman, John Durban and David Ellifrit confirmed the positive ID.

 

This exciting finding bodes well for the potential success of collaborative citizen science when studying these far-travelling pelagic orcas. The Northern Indian Ocean Killer Whale Alliance was recently founded in collaboration between Orca Project Sri Lanka and whale researcher Tim Collins of the Wildlife Conservation Society. In addition to coordinating a Photo ID catalogue for the region, the alliance was set up with the objective of increasing the number of “eyes and ears” available in the area for orca sightings.

Already the NIO orca catalogue holds 50 individuals from all over the Northern Indian Ocean, with images contributed by members of the alliance which include Whale Watchers, NGOs, researchers, fisherman, yachties, marine enthusiasts and more. The catalogue will be made available to the public via an official website and downloadable PDF to be released shortly. While only in the early stages, in time this project may reveal new findings regarding population numbers, ecotypes, site fidelity, diet, movements between countries and more!

 

Left: KIller Whales (OM015/ NIO29 and OM016/ NIO033) sighted off Abu Dhabi in 2008. Image shared from Gulf News.com.

Right: KIller Whales known to Orca Project Sri Lanka as Pod 6, and NIOKWA as Pod 11 in Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Image by Raja and the Whales.

.