The orcas that have been staying close to the harbor of Genoa in Italy for the last two weeks, have finally been identified. They traveled from Iceland.
Orca Guardian Iceland was able to recognize them via photos from their catalog. The remaining four orcas, one sadly died, in Genoa are SN113 “Riptide”, SN114 (the female with the dead calf), SN116 “Aquamarin” and SN115 “Dropi”.
“This is the first EVER record of orcas migrating between Iceland and Italy in killer whale research history, and, we believe, with over 5.200 km one of the longest migration routes ever recorded in the world to date,” Orca Guardian Iceland writes on their Facebook page.
They had last spotted the group in the summer of 2017 in West Iceland. After that, they didn’t see them anymore. Almost 2,5 years later the group, to their surprise, appears in Italy.
Researchers were struggling to identify the orcas when they were first seen in Italy. And they started to get worried about their health, especially after a baby died.
Videos and photos are starting to surface of orcas in the harbor near Genoa. There are five in total. People are amazed and come out to see the rare sighting.
An adult #orca and a calf spotted in the #Mediterranean #Sea near the #Genoa port terminal. They are a rare presence in the Med. Here the video #biodiversity #killerwhale https://t.co/RAYu4GbeY5 pic.twitter.com/EjWHmhkGQ7— Agostino Leone (@leoneago) December 1, 2019
Scientists and the Italian Coast Guard are getting worried because the killer whales are not leaving the area. They seem to be circling in a 100-meter radius which could indicate something is wrong.
4 Orcas inside the harbour of Genova and they don’t go away from days staying stopped in the same place. Why is this happening? It’s not a good sign and we are worried for the health. #help #orcas @Quad_Finn @OrcaSOS https://t.co/CYbS9GzTxr— Donne di Mare (@MareDonne) December 5, 2019
The youngest member of the group, a baby, died. In a video you see the mom trying to save her child. Even when the calf died, the mom is seen swimming with her baby, not wanting to let go. The remaining four orcas stay in the harbor of Genoa.
Update: Sad news regarding the five orcas who entered the harbor in Genoa, Italy earlier this week and apparently won’t leave. The youngest member of the group, a calf, has died, The mother can be seen trying to lift her dying calf up to the surface in order to help it breathe. pic.twitter.com/0LqvbOG6K3— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) December 6, 2019
The Italian Coast Guard released a video where you see the mom swimming with the lifeless body of her child.
Remarkable video footage of the orca mother carrying the lifeless body of her calf, unable to let her baby go, inside the harbor of Genoa, Italy. The Italian Coast Guard is continuing to monitor the orcas & protect them from curiosity seekers trying to disturb the grieving mother pic.twitter.com/iGJlMHbEx1— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) December 8, 2019
The mom has let her baby go. Scientists are getting more and more worried about the remaining four killer whales. They are hoping the orcas will soon leave the Genoa harbor, but they think they might stay around because they’re sick. They know how to get out of the port because they leave every afternoon, but return the next morning.
The Italian Coast Guard is searching for the baby orca’s body so they can research what happened.
Update: The orca mother in Genoa harbor that had been carrying the lifeless body of her calf for days appears to have finally let it go. The 4 surviving orcas are still in the harbor and researchers have noted they appear to be stressed & showing signs of physical deterioration. pic.twitter.com/OAEoxveiXs— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) December 9, 2019
Researchers are using sound bites of the animals to determine where the orcas come from. So far, they’ve collected a lot of audio files but no idea yet where the killer whales are from and what they’re doing in Italian waters.
Update: Researchers no longer believe the 4 orcas in Genoa harbor belong to the population normally found near Gibraltar. Hydrophone recordings of their vocalizations are now being analyzed in hopes of identifying where these mysterious orcas are from. Here’s a brief audio sample pic.twitter.com/CWPmH93OJc— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) December 12, 2019
The orcas keep leaving but come back the next day. Experts think they leave to find food but return with no success. The male killer whale appears to become weaker.
Day 13 Update: A pattern is emerging where the orcas leave Genoa harbor every day around sunset only to return the following morning. It’s suspected the orcas are trying to forage at night but seem unsuccessful as they continue to lose weight, especially the group’s lone male. pic.twitter.com/KxqANKL9rU— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) December 13, 2019
The orcas left and for a moment researchers thought they were gone for good, but for some unknown reason they animals came back to the harbor. It is still unclear why they’re staying in the Italian port. And it seems as if they’re losing weight.
Day 15 Update: After having been at sea for over 24 hours, the four orcas have once again returned to Genoa harbor this morning and the story continues. pic.twitter.com/taDj6st6sU— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) December 15, 2019
The four remaining orcas have been identified by Orca Guardians Iceland. Now the question remains why they are in Italy and if they’re able to find food.
On day 18 it seems as if the orcas have left the Italian harbor. Researchers keep tracking their travels where possible.