Published Wednesday, January 13, 2021Orca whales amaze tourists in Puntarenas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
On Tuesday, a group of Orca whales (Orcinus orca), spotted off the Pacific Coast in Puntarenas Province entertained unexpected tourists.
According to statements by Cleiver Zamora, who is the captain of a fishing tourism boat, the sighting happened around 10 a.m. when he was cruising near Cabo Blanco Island.
"It was a very unusual morning, but a very pleasant visit from Orca whales on our coast," Zamora posted on his Facebook page.
The whales were first spotted swimming near Herradura Beach and then continued their way near the island's shores.
"We saw about 15 Orca whales of all sizes and many manta-rays injured with bites from the attacks," Zamora told local news outlets.
Several videos of the encounter with the so-called killer whales can be seen on Zamora’s Facebook page.
The last well-documented sighting of Orcas happened in June 2020, when a group of fishermen came across the whales when a tourism boat was sailing near Dulce Gulf in Puntarenas Province.
The video shows two large whales rapidly swimming just a few meters from the boat. The encounter with the Orcas was shared by the organization Yo Amo Puntarenas on its Facebook page.
According to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the killer whales, which are a family of dolphin species, are one of the largest sea mammal creatures.
Those whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and other species of dolphin, said the report.
They have been known to attack baleen whale calves and even adult whales. Killer whales are apex predators, as no animal preys on them.
According to the organization, this species can be found in each of the world's oceans in a variety of marine environments, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas, absent only from the Baltic and Black seas, and some areas of the Arctic Ocean.
However, the whales have been sighted, though more infrequently, in the Gulf of Mexico, Banderas Bay on Mexico's west coast and in the Caribbean Sea.
The organization does not include in its records the encounters reported in Costa Rica.
Worldwide population estimates are uncertain, but recent consensus suggests a minimum of 50,000, according to the “Selective Foraging by Fish-eating Killer Whales Orcinus Orca in British Columbia” report by the Marine Ecology Progress Series in 2006.
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