Recently captured footage appears to show an Orca swimming around in the Plymouth Sound.
The footage was captured by kayakers in the Sound and experts from the nearby National Marine Aquarium have confirmed that while they can’t be 100% sure, the footage certainly appears to depict a Killer Whale, in what could be the first sighting of the animal near Plymouth’s coastline in four years.
The Orca’s dorsal fin is distinctive, as is its size, with the animal able to grow up to 30 foot long. Despite their long sharp teeth and predatory nature, there has never been a confirmed attack on a human in the wild.
“It was much larger than anything I had seen on previous trips out around the Sound, probably at least twice the length of the two-metre grey seals I have seen.” Kayaker Neil Wright told the Plymouth Herald.
“The height of the dorsal fin is what really stood out but sadly the encounter was over almost before we had a chance to really think about what we might have just witnessed.”
Upon receiving the footage James Wright, NMA curator, said:
“Upon first viewing the footage my mind did jump to it possibly being an orca and what an amazing encounter it would have been to have had. These are amazing marine predators which specialise in many hunting techniques. In theory, they can be found in our waters but one venturing into Plymouth Sound would be quite a surprise.
“Orcas can be found around the British Isles but not in any great numbers, they are normally confined to more northerly areas off the shores of Scotland and the islands of Orkney and Shetland. There has been one record off Plymouth some four years ago, but that was an isolated appearance.
“We did some research and looked at other possible specimens – bottle-nosed dolphins do come into the Sound and one hung around for quite a while in 2015, but these have very different shaped dorsal fins.
“Common Dolphins can be sighted further offshore, especially by dive boats heading out to the Eddystone Reef, but these are much smaller animals and usually in groups.
“One which could fit is a Rissos dolphin but at the description of the size it would be a large older individual. As Risso’s dolphins grow and age, they lighten in colour and develop scarring, which this animal did not seem to have.
“We circulated the footage with some knowledgeable experienced cetacean experts who all leaned towards this being an orca.
“We cannot be 100 per cent certain without more definitive footage, especially of the characteristic white markings on the black body, but even if this is a sighting of a Risso’s dolphin in Plymouth Sound it is very special.”