THERE is excitement among wildlife experts after a possible killer whale sighting was reported off the south coast.

A pod of what Sussex Dolphin Project believe could be female orcas were spotted shortly after midday on Thursday in Telscombe.

Onlooker Grant Winter saw between four and six of the elusive creatures heading west towards Brighton.

Dorset Echo: A possible orca sighting has been made off the coast of BrightonA possible orca sighting has been made off the coast of Brighton

The sighting was reported to the Dolphin Project, a charity project of the World Cetacean Alliance, an organisation which aims to “inspire and engage the local community to learn about the incredible marine wildlife off the Sussex coast”.

Sussex Dolphin Project keeps a record of the number of marine mammals spotted off the Sussex coast as part of its research into the county’s aquatic wildlife.

Thea Taylor, Sussex Dolphin Project lead, said that while Orcas have been confirmed in the English Channel before, it is still “a very rare sighting”.

Dorset Echo: A possible Orca sighting has been made off the cost of Brighton yesterdayA possible Orca sighting has been made off the cost of Brighton yesterday

She said: when we saw these images of cetaceans with large dorsal fins we were immediately intrigued.

“Due to the quality of the photos it’s not possible to be sure of the species but having studied the images at length we believe the species is either white beaked dolphins, which are sighted in Sussex waters around this time of year, or female orcas, which have smaller dorsal fins than the males.

“Without additional evidence we cannot be certain, but we’re eager to hear from anyone else with information or images to allow an accurate species ID.”

Dorset Echo: Sussex Dolphin Project say the sighting is 'incredibly rare'Sussex Dolphin Project say the sighting is 'incredibly rare'

Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family.

Last month, two killer whales were spotted off the Cornish coast by members of Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

The pair, named John Coe and Aquarius, were identified by the shape and notches of their dorsal fins and patches of colouration near their eyes and on their backs.

They are two of the UK’s only resident population of killer whales.

The two killer whales form part of the West Coast Community, a specialised pod of eight individuals that can be distinguished from other groups of orcas by their unusual sloping eye patch and larger size.

Although they are regularly monitored, some have not been seen in recent years and there have been no calves observed since monitoring began in the 1990s.

According to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the pod faces the risk of extinction as a direct result of human activities.

**All photos by Grant L Winter**