Hi! I am Connor. This week I have been lucky enough to be the marine intern on board Naturalise Charters. With Tuesday’s expedition the experience of a lifetime, I had high hopes for today’s expedition, and it did not disappoint.
Today was a lesson on patience.
The Alison Maree left the harbour into a 1.7m swell and 15knot winds towards the home of the Orcas, the Bremer Bay Canyon.
After 20-minutes of entering the hotspot, glimpses of El big presence were witnessed. Five-minute dives and unpredictable behaviour were enough to inform us he wasn’t in the mood to socialise. After 20-minutes of short sightings, El and his pod remained elusive and disappeared into the white caps.
The search for Orca continued, and during that journey we encountered some special species. A pair of Long-Nosed Fur Seals (previously known as New Zealand Furl Seal) cooled themselves by lifting their hind flippers in the air. Luckily for them, the Orca off Bremer don’t particularly enjoy the taste of seal, as much larger prey is on their radar. A sunfish, which escapes the predation of Orca in replacement for its use as a play toy, drifted alongside the boat to say a quick hello to all onboard.
The Orcas were either extremely well disguised, or simply weren’t there for the large sum of the day. As home time approach and the boat began the journey back, a large oil slick formed and the excitement that had begun dissipating reignited. In the distance, swirling birds created even more excited and we had a target. As the swirls grew more intense and the boat got closer, we knew it was only a matter of time until we had exactly what we had been looking for. Just like that, we had Orca and they were celebrating. While the adults finished their meal, the calves had already begun their celebrations. Surfing, surging, and spy hopping showed just how happy they were with their recent kill. Split Tip was at the forefront once again, with her family on either side. Once content with their meal, they joined the party. On every surface there was a , a rainbow in their blow. With surfaces occurring every few seconds, the colourful array of the air added a magic touch to what we were witnessing. With the excitement getting the better of her, 6-tonne matriarch Split Tip breach at the stern, almost leaving some of our passengers drenched.
As the celebration prolonged and the Orca surrounding the boat and the passengers distracted by the show, before we could even notice they had a new target, it was over. A kill so quick it was almost going undetected, besides the large oil slick that rose to the surface. The rainbow party continued with the brave, wet passengers on the bow getting reward for effort as the Orca turned the spotlight on their white belly’s. The only difficulty was deciding where to look!
With time the limiting factor, we waved goodbye to a spectacle that no one on board will soon forget.