Still from EAD video showing the pair of killer whales Image Credit: Screengrab/Instagram

Abu Dhabi: An anglers group yesterday spotted a pair of killer whales off the coast of Abu Dhabi while out on a fishing trip.

The spotting was reported by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), which urged residents to steer clear of the marine mammals when out in the waters.

“A pair of orcas, also known as killer whales, have been spotted off the coast of Abu Dhabi. They are among the most well-travelled of marine wildlife, adapting to both cooler climates and warm waters. Although this sighting is rare, they have been frequently visiting Abu Dhabi waters, which is a testament to the healthy marine life that call Abu Dhabi home,” the EAD said in a post on its social media platforms.

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Keep safe

“Orcas are usually not a threat to humans. However, we urge the public to keep a safe distance when spotting wildlife and to alert the Abu Dhabi Government Call Centre on 800 555 in the case of unusual sightings,” the authority added.

Rare sighting

The anglers group ‘Just Fishing’ spotted the mammals on Tuesday morning near the Abu Dhabi shore, the group’s managing director and co-founder, Ahmed Afifi, told Gulf News.

“We were chasing kingfish, when there was suddenly no activity in the waters. All the fish had disappeared, then we saw an orca jump out of the waters with something in its mouth,” Afifi said.

Afifi said the group then noticed the orcas surrounding a dugong.

“It was a very rare and unbelievable [sight]. We’ve only spotted orcas once before, and that too never this close to the shore,” Afifi said.

The group, which aims to popularise Abu Dhabi as a sports fishing destination, were able to spot the orcas for about an hour. Upon returning to land, they alerted The National Aquarium, and also posted clips of the encounter on their social media platforms.

Although known as killer whales, orcas are one of the world’s most powerful predators. They are instantly recognisable because of their distinctive black-and-white colour. These marine creatures are also extremely intelligent.

The last known sighting of orcas in UAE waters was in December 2021 in Abu Dhabi. Another sighting was also reported off the coast of Dubai in 2019.

Report sightings

Environmentalists and fishermen have also reported sighting other marine creatures that are rare along the UAE coastline, including whale sharks. The EAD constantly urges residents to report unusual wildlife sightings, and to help preserve animal life in the UAE.