Abu Dhabi: A group of young Emirati men aboard their boat sighted a creature of great magnificence close to Abu Dhabi island: a killer whale.
Although the UAE is home to over a third of the 80 known species of cetaceans, few killer whales have been spotted in Abu Dhabi waters, much less caught on film.
Khalid Al Hashimi, Khalid Al Rumaithi and Saud Al Rumaithi alerted the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and provided the agency with documented evidence through film footage and still photographs.
"I've never seen anything as magnificent as this before on any of our boat trips over the past years," said Khalid Al Rumaithi.
"There were about seven whales swimming in two groups. One of the whales was almost 10 metres in length and had its calf close by. We didn't feel any danger from them and they were a beautiful sight that we will never forget," he said.
According to Thabit Zahran Al Abdul Salaam, Director of Marine Biodiversity Management at EAD, the killer whale, or Orcinus orca, despite the name, are not considered a threat to humans.
There have, however, been isolated reports of captive killer whales attacking their handlers in Dolphinaria and marine theme parks. He noted that killer whales display sexual dimorphism in terms of size with males attaining 9.75 metres in length and females growing up to 8.5 metres.
Why the name
According to Thabit Zahran Al Abdul Salaam, Director of Marine Biodiversity Management at EAD, the killer whale, or Orcinus orca, belongs to the group of cetaceans, which includes whales and dolphins, but is not strictly a whale. It belongs to the oceanic dolphin family and is the largest species in the family.
"Killer whales are resourceful and opportunistic predators. They feed mostly on fish but are also known to hunt marine mammals, including sea lions, seals, and even large whales, hence the common name killer whale," he said.