Rare sighting: Killer whale with dolphins in Nova Scotia
Monday, September 19, 2016, 12:30 PM - It wasn't the first time that this killer whale was spotted off the coast of Nova Scotia, but the fact it was seen swimming with dolphins made this latest encounter a rare sighting.
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"Old Thom" was seen on September 17 on a whale watching expedition near Brier Island.
"Breaking news! The orca, "Old Thom" has been sighted off Brier Island!," Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises posted to their Facebook page on Saturday. "The orca has returned to the Bay of Fundy! Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises was the first boat to see "Old Thom" thanks to Owner and Captain Harold Graham who spotted the orca from Northern Point and directed Captain Roy to his location. We were able to get a great look at him and everyone was happy with the sighting."
Shelley Lonergan, research coordinator with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises says it's been almost a year since Old Thom was last seen.
"Orcas [killer whales] are normally pod oriented, so they usually are in groups. This orca has been by himself since we first saw him in 2008. It's the same individual that we keep seeing from time to time," she told the CBC.
According to Lonergan, every time the whale has been sighted, he's been accompanied by dolphins. Strange considering that killer whales have been known to sometimes eat dolphins.
Every orca has a uniquely-shaped saddle patch, which enables whale watchers to identify each one and tell them apart. Lonergan says Old Thom has markings that identify him, including one that's a little nick about one third of the way down is dorsal fin.
Lonegran said this has been one of the best summers they've had for whale watching with 170 humpback whales identified this year compared to the 140-150 they typically document in a normal summer.