Killer whale Ol' Tom again spotted with dolphins off Nova Scotia
Killer whales are known to sometimes eat dolphins, making it an odd sighting
Ol' Tom, a killer whale who's been spotted with some regularity off the coast of Nova Scotia over the last eight years, was seen Saturday on a whale watching expedition near Brier Island.
Shelley Lonergan, the research coordinator with Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises, said it's been almost one year since Ol' Tom was last seen.
"Orcas [killer whales] are normally pod oriented, so they usually are in groups. This orca has been by himself since we first saw him in 2008. It's the same individual that we keep seeing from time to time," she said.
There's another thing about Ol' Tom sightings that make them unusual.
"Every time we see him, he's been accompanied by dolphins, so that's quite interesting in itself," said Lonergan.
That's because killer whales have been known to eat dolphins from time to time.
Lonergan said there were about 20 to 30 dolphins with Ol' Tom yesterday.
Markings that identify Ol' Tom
Asked how she's sure the sighting was of Ol' Tom, Lonergan says he has markings that identify him, one of which is a little nick about one-third of the way down his dorsal fin. As well, on the back of a killer whale's dorsal fin, there's a white patch that's unique to each whale.
The sighting was originally made by the whale watching company's owner, who spotted Ol' Tom from land and let the crew know where to find him.
"On a clear day, you can see them five miles away," said Lonergan.
She said she isn't sure what keeps bringing Ol' Tom back.
He's been sighted off Grand Manan, as well as Yarmouth and throughout the Bay of Fundy.