Hey everyone, I’m Ella and I’ve been interning on the Naturaliste Charters Bremer Bay killer whale expeditions this week. Every day has been epic and we’ve witnessed predations 4/5 days and today was no exception!
Charging south towards the Canyon, it was only minutes before our first wildlife encounter of the day. The clouds parted with divine timing, creating a rainbow from the sea spray, and beneath it porpoised three oceanic bottlenose dolphins riding our wake. Better than any pot of gold. We took it as a good omen for the day, and we weren’t wrong. Steaming 24 nautical miles to the hotspot we were greeted on arrival by Nibbles’ and Digby’s inseparable pods. We spent the morning being led East and West, patrolling along the hotspot in search of prey. Cruising along in an orca sandwich (a port side pod and starboard pod), we watched the falcate dorsals of the females and juveniles cutting through the Southern Ocean waters and the sprouted male dorsals towering above. Dundee put on a show throwing her whole body out of the water with each breath, in respiratory synchronicity with her mum, loving every inch of her 11500 km2 sub-basin playground.
The orcas were kind enough to give us a short break from twisting our necks every which way, overwhelmed by the number of them surrounding us, to quickly digest our lunch as they went quiet for their midday siesta. But not for long. Soon after we were heading north again as they lead us back towards the continental shelf to the 300m mark before u-turning and displaying their incredible speeds and breath-holding abilities. They didn’t elude us for too long, and once again we found them in their favourite hunting hotspot back on the 1000m mark.
Arriving to witness splashing and surging orcas, in the swiftest predation this season, two pods took down their prey in a matter of minutes. Displaying their superior hunting techniques, attributed to their complex, matriarchal social structure (in other words, taking lessons in predation and pursuit orders from Grandma) the pods quickly divided their meal, bringing their shares back to their matriarchs for distribution. The swirl of shearwaters on Nibbles’ fluke tipped us off that the bull had the “trophy” in his mouth, which he made sure to parade off to us humans, with numerous close passes. Celebratory fluke slaps, peduncle throws, and airborne calves were in order, sending water flying into the air all around us.
Beaming from another day spent killer whale watching, in complete reverence of the Southern Ocean and its apex inhabitant, the orca’s farewelled us until tomorrow by surfing our wake as we turned towards home.