A photo apparently showing a killer whale — or orca — leaping from the sea off Cebu Island has divided opinion among social media users.
The picture was purportedly taken off Sumilon Island near Oslob town — waters that are better known as a haunt for the whale shark.
The photo was originally posted on Facebook by whale shark tour diver Jay-r Lagahid on Saturday, July 29. The following day he removed the picture from his timeline, without any explanation.
Many netizens were skeptical. Writing on Facebook, Polo Perez said: “This is stupid. Imagine the chances of a killer whale doing trained jumping acts in an area where there are no primary source of food like seals just to sell tourism.”
Many others agreed, saying that the picture had been photoshopped.
However, speaking to the Freeman, Oslob Mayor Jun Tumulak confirmed the existence of the killer whale and said it was first sighted in the area two years ago.
Oslob Tourism Officer Beth Benologa said the stretch of water between Sumilon and Siquijor was “like a highway for sea creatures as it leads to the open sea”.
She also said that a blue whale — the world’s largest living creature — was also sighted nearby in 2016.
“Whale sharks are usual sights here, but killer and blue whales are rare,” she said.
Killer whale danger?
Orcas have been reported in oceans across the world, but they generally prefer cooler, coastal waters. They are usually social animals and live in family groups.
With up to 52 large teeth and an ability to hunt in packs, orcas are an ‘apex predator’, meaning that they themselves have no natural predators.
Despite their ability to kill any living creature that may be found in the ocean, it is extremely rare for humans to be attacked, and no fatalities have ever been recorded in the wild.
In the 1970s, a surfer in California was bitten and in 2005 a boy in Alaska who was splashing in the water was bumped by a killer whale that apparently misidentified him as prey. Unlike wild orcas, captive killer whales are reported to have made nearly two dozen attacks on humans since the 1970s, some of which have been fatal.
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