The Uruguayan large-circulation daily El País has reported the sighting of orcas off the coast of Punta del Este.
The newspaper indicated a group of sailors had spotted the killer whales swimming in the Boca Chica area, between Isla Gorriti and Punta del Este.
Contrary to what many may believe, the visit of these cetaceans is common in Uruguay, especially on the coasts of Rocha and Maldonado, Rocha Director of Environment Rodrigo García was quoted by El País as saying.
García, who is also a founding member of the Organization for the Conservation of Cetaceans (OCC), added that they are sometimes seen in groups of three or four animals and are mostly seen solitary.
The family of dolphins to which orcas belong do not have marked seasons for their sighting, as do whales, for example, which have reproductive seasons, García explained.
Orcas are governed based on their diet and the availability of food. Their diet is based on large fish and small sea lions.
According to García, these orcas on average can measure up to approximately nine meters at most. Females tend to be smaller than males, which is the other way around with whales, due to a matter of fertilization.
García cautioned beachgoers that should they meet these animals at sea, the best thing to do was not to approach them and allow them to continue their way: They must not be disturbed, García stressed. It is so by law. He added that it was very unlikely an orca would mistake a human being for a sea lion.
They know the difference perfectly, they are animals that have a highly developed acoustic sense, much more perfect even than our vision, so they can never confuse us, as sharks can, he added.
But García recalled one event in 2015, in La Paloma (Rocha) very close to the coast, when an orca appeared. It was a female that even had her dorsal fin collapsed -bent-, something that is very rare in killer whales in the wild. It is more normal for it to happen with killer whales in captivity, Garcia said. This generally occurs due to stress, poor feeding of the animals, or both, he explained El País.