Just in case you needed to understand what makes Cape Town such a special place.
Awesome work Jean Tresfon - Marine Conservation Photographer
Just over 10 days ago now, with the Czech film crew still in town and looking for humpback whale supergroups to film, Roman Ondruj asked for another whale spotting flight. As I was getting ready to leave home my phone pinged with a message from Seafari App founder Alex Vogel to let me know that the orca that had been spotted a few days previously had just been seen again near Bailey's Cottage at Muizenberg. As Roman and I drove through to the airfield I casually mentioned the orca was in the area and he agreed that it was worth checking out before looking for the humpbacks.
I always leave my gyrocopter fully fuelled and ready to fly for times just like this. We arrived at the airfield, ripped off the covers and found a flat nose wheel! About 40 minutes later I had removed the wheel, taken off the tyre, run around the airfield looking for glue, patched the tube and was ready to go again. By this time I was sure the orca had vanished but reports from shore-based watchers said it was now about 2km out to sea at Muizenberg. There was a stiff south-westerly blowing and after finally taking off we bashed our way into the headwind while checking for updates from the spotters.
Arriving overhead False Bay we spotted the Sea Search research boat some way offshore and headed out to their position. Even with their boat as a reference it took a while to spot the orca itself. It would surface, spend only 30 secs or so on top and then dive down again for minutes at a time. The sunlight reflecting off the sea surface made spotting or photography impossible on one side of the animal and the fresh headwind meant we had to face towards the south. All in all quite challenging conditions! We managed a few photos, nothing spectacular, but still amazing to see an orca from the air after 10 years of regular aerial marine wildlife survey flights!
Whale scientist Chris Wilkinson was watching from Boyes Drive and after doing what he described as "too many of circles" we left the scientists alone with their sea-panda and routed past Kalk Bay into the Fish Hoek Valley, ending up offshore from Hout Bay and finding a feeding pod of humpback whales near Vulcan Rock. From there we routed out to sea and along the Twelve Apostles with the wind now blowing strongly and giving my tiny little plane a shake or two. Near Table Bay one of the SAAF maritime surveillance C47 turbo Dakotas passed below us and then we followed the Table Bay shoreline back to Blouberg and then home to Morningstar Flying Club.