A female killer whale and calf have been recently spotted in waters off the southeastern coast of South Korea, a local research institute said Friday.
The pair was seen in waters off Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday, a spokesman for the National Institute of Fisheries Science said. The last time that a mother and calf were seen in Korean waters was in 2001 off Hong Island, South Jeolla Province. Researchers said there had also been a sighting of a male and female killer whale off Uljin in 2015.
Chances are high that the East Sea has become a new habitat for killer whales, which usually live in the Sea of Okhotsk, as they have been moving southward in pursuit of their favorite food such as seals and dolphins, the institute said.
Killer whales, weighing up to 10,000 kilograms and growing to 5-10 meters in length, hunt in groups and are known to attack other whales and sharks. There has never been a documented report of a while killer whale attacking a person.
"It is a positive sign in terms of species diversity if killer whales are living in our waters," Choi Young-min, a whale researcher, said. "We are going to continue observing whales off the coasts of our country to grasp the exact number of species and whales and conduct research on the whales for their protection."