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Killer whales spotted by fishing boat off Ko Olina

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Courtesy: Hugh Foster Courtesy: Hugh Foster
Hugh Foster Hugh Foster
David Schofield David Schofield
KO OLINA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A fishing boat based in Ko Olina was no match for some hungry killer whales. The charter vessel didn't reel in any tuna, but the captain and his customers captured shots of their rare encounter.

The sportfishing boat ‘Mahea B' was roughly 10 miles off of Ko Olina hunting for tuna and marlin, but something else caught Hugh Foster's attention around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

"We saw a couple tunas come up then all of a sudden these orcas came out of nowhere and started eating them. It was crazy," said Foster, the captain of Mahea B.

Foster grabbed his iPhone and started snapping photos. He counted about 8 killer whales chasing the tuna.

"There were a few that were bringing their tails up. One would jump up out of the water completely," described Foster.

"They are very good at pack feeding and cooperating and doing all that very sophisticated hunting in groups so they might have been corralling some tuna," said David Schofield of NOAA's Marine Mammal and Health Response Program. "We know that killer whales will pass through Hawaiian waters. We get calls or reports about them maybe every other year, usually on the windward coasts of our islands."

But little is known about the importance of Hawaii's habitat for the ocean predators.

"We have had strandings recently. There was a stranding of a killer whale near Poipu Beach on Kauai in 2008 and Shipwrecks Beach, Lanai in 2004," said Schofield.

The Mahea B ended up staying with the pod for 40 magical minutes.

"It's something we'll remember forever for sure. I don't know. I've been fishing my whole life and I haven't ever seen big killer whales like that," said Foster.

Schofield plans to send the photos to experts in the Pacific Northwest who may be able to identify whether the animals are from a known pod or population.

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