Orcas on the Hunt Bremer Canyon
Friday’s Feast – *Warning Graphic Content*
Today we did not expect to see a hunt so arriving at the Bremer Canyon before lunch we were initially delighted to be welcomed by a handful of playful orca.
They were surfing in the waves at the canyon when we arrived, coming over to check out the boat. Orca’s Akami and Mia created a show for the passengers, rolling around beside the boat and doing backflips.
We spotted Digby and Nibbles out in the distance. Crew and passengers gripped the handrails and held onto their seats as the orca’s began to surge like crazy, this was the moment we knew we were in for a treat.
Orca on the hunt
Changing direction and surging in a group of 12-15 individual orca, the race was on to hunt their prey.
The female orcas, being the dominant of the species, swum ahead on the hunt, pushing their prey up onto the continental shelf in only 500 metres of water, to prevent their catch from escaping.
Nibbles and the younger calves hung at the back of the pack, surging in tandem with the boat. To see a nine tonne animal leaping through the air, so lithe and fast, on the hunt for food was an incredible sight to behold.
Predators find their catch
The powerful surging killer whales eventually slowed, a large oil slick appeared on the surface in front of the bow, their prowess in hunting had resulted in a meal.
Numerous orca surfaced, some with chunks of meat in their mouths. One orca brought a head of their catch to the surface, the beak still attached to the skull, skinned with the brain on full display.
Inflated lungs surfaced on the water, it was apparent that the pod had successfully hunted a beaked whale, a favorite source of food.
This display created an in depth anatomy lesson to the passengers and crew onboard the catamaran.
How much food can one orca eat?
In one day, a fully grown orca can eat up to 250 kilograms of food, this is 5% of their body weight. So it is no surprise that they were on the hunt for their lunch.
The last of the meal was distributed amongst the pod members and with their bellies full, some of the orcas, lulled by their meal, grew in confidence and trailed in closer to the catamaran.
Nibbles, Franscar, Razor and Little Blade surfaced approximately 30 metres from the boat putting on an awe inspiring display of sphyhops and roly-polys, a joy to all onboard.
A Truly Unforgettable Experience
Summing up the days trip we can say the it was truly an unforgettable day in the canyon.
More photos from the day are available to view on our Facebook page.
Want to know more about Bremer Bays Killer Whale Season?
Photographers Nic Duncan and Sara Hysong-Shimazu
Original blog by intern Mayah Darby