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Witnessing Orca Encounters in Autumn

Killer Whale Echo

A thrilling Marine Adventure

With autumn well and truly upon us, we were surprised by warmer weather conditions as we headed out in search of a marine adventure.

Heading south to the hotspot, with the sun beating down on us, over a calm sea, it wasn’t long before mother and son duo, Echo and Sara, were spotted.

Engaged in long foraging dives, they appeared on the surface for only a few breathes at a time, zig-zagging their way through the hotspot.

We stuck with the pair as they searched for prey, knowing it was only a matter of time before they re-joined the rest of the pod.

Reuniting With the Pod

Then, up ahead, a cluster of blows were sighted.

Boosting over, we were over the moon to find Sedna, Halley and little Comet, accompanied by Cookie and El Notcho’s pod.

Young Comet was particularly excited to see us, quickly deviating from the rest of the group to say hello.

Before she’d made it to our bow it seemed mum, Halley, had called her back.

Cheers as the Orca Pass Under Us

Suddenly, the group redirected their path and swam directly at our starboard side.

They passed underneath the Alison Maree and attracting a wave of cheers onboard.

Another marine adventure tick!

When they resurfaced, they had been re-joined by Sara and Echo.

The behaviour of the group quickly changed, as they began traveling southwest toward an area known as the S-bends.

Perhaps to try their luck for a feed there, having not been successful at the hotspot.

Up Close With the Orcas

The group continued traveling discontinuing their deep dives and large footprints began to appear on the water’s surface,.

Created by the upwelling of water as the killer whales beat their powerful tails just below the surface.

On multiple occasions members of the group offered us close passes and an opportunity to see them up close.

But it was little Comet that stole the show, rolling over as she darted around and underneath us.

Weather Changes on our Marine Adventure

An interesting build-up of cloud (called a frontal strato-cumulus cloud) began to form overhead as a weather front moved toward us from the southwest.

The milky surface of the water began to stir as a wall of wind barrelled toward us.

Sensing it too, the orca quickly changing their direction of travel to track back toward the hotspot.

It has been suggested that dolphins can sense changes in atmospheric pressure.

This has been found to affect their feeding patterns.

Strong winds and rainfall can alter temperature and salinity gradients, as well as upwelling patterns.

This in turn influences the distribution of their prey and as we well know, these apex predators go where the food goes!

Navigating Through the Elements

Spreading out in a line either side of us, the group surfaced synchronously as they traveled back toward the hotspot.

At one point, the two mature males, Echo and El Notcho came together, El Notcho’s fully grown dorsal fin towering over Echo’s.

Hundreds of small baitfish, identified as slimy mackerel, sprung from the surface as the orcas passed through and disturbed them.

The weather continued to pick up and the rain came in, so we made our way home across a grey, choppy ocean.

It looked completely different from the calm seas we’d experienced that morning.

Once again our marine adventure was truly unforgettable.

 

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Young calf Comet steals the show
By Naturaliste Charter Young calf Comet steals the show
Frontal strato-cumulus cloud
By Naturaliste Charter Frontal strato-cumulus cloud
As warm air from the whale's lungs meets cold air outside, it condenses into a cloud
By Naturaliste Charter As warm air from the whale's lungs meets cold air outside, it condenses into a cloud
Passengers enjoying the orca experience in Bremer Canyon
By Naturaliste Charter Passengers enjoying the orca experience in Bremer Canyon

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