To sum up today – RARE!
It was one of those beautiful weather days in the canyon. Only a breath of sea breeze and just a slight rock from the swell.
No orca in the hotspot so on we went… and on… and on…. Sunfish kept us entertained appearing sporadically throughout our expedition. We weren’t here for sunfish though, we wanted to see the APEX predator!
Unfortunately a no orca day IS possible and we have been extremely lucky so far this season to have orcas on every expedition! It was looming on us and today was the day we had the rare “no-orca day”. We travelled over 150kms in search but to no avail. This rare occasion doesn’t happen often, in fact it only occurs on four out of 100 days!! This gives us a 96% chance of seeing orca – the highest chance in the world.
Migrating Sperm Whales
We looped around our usual checkout spots, and on the way towards the top of the Hood Canyon we could see bushy blows! It was a large pod of sub-adult sperm whales! These wrinkly dinosaurs are incredible to witness and we had over TWENTY within a few hundred metres of each other. They were moving SW slowly as one pod. This is a first for the season and something we do not get to witness often – especially in these numbers.
We were lucky enough to sight this same spot 4 hours and 7 nautical miles later! They were still heading south west in their pod. This time on the way to the Henry Canyon, a sub-canyon off the larger Bremer Canyon.
BEAKED WHALE: The elusive slippery sausages
We continued on our orca search, heading to the other side of the Hotspot now. The call came down from our lookout “Dolphins, NO BEAKED WHALES!!!” Eyes scrambled to our port side to get a glimpse of these animals. They took three blows and POOF, just like that, GONE. They disappeared below the surface. Too quick to snap any photographs but enough for us to get a good idea of size and colour. We cannot confirm the species which adds to the suspicion of these mysterious toothed whales. Three light brown beaked whales reaching about 4 metres in length each, aka orca lunch were RIGHT THERE! We scanned the surrounding area but they did not resurface. A rare sight indeed! Usually when we see beaked whales here they have reached their unfortunate demise…in the mouth of Orca…
You wouldn’t read about it….. but we sighted another pod of Beakies no more than thirty minutes later! Two grey’s (suspected species) surfaced for a quick breath and then POOF, just as the first pod did, they were gone. Gone down to the depths to most likely feed on squid and fish and make the most of the orca-less waters. We managed to snag a couple images which helped us come to the conclusion they were Gray’s Beaked Whales. They were different to the first pod which is very interesting to see!
Another Barau’s Petrel came roaring in, just like yesterday! This cute, and fast paced seabird swooped in and around our vessel twice. Only to take off moments later! Another rarity for the region and another sighting logged with BARC, Birding Australia Rarities Committee.
We must take what we are given on the day and make the most of it while we can! To see sperm whales in high numbers, TWO pods of beaked whales which are rarely observed swimming around and a Barau’s Petrel we were stoked! Obviously no orca, but our passengers will receive a return trip to one day see the Orca of Bremer Bay. Until then, we are grateful each day for the amazing experiences we get.