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Family Ties

26.02.2022 

 

Family Ties 

 

With the seas much calmer today, our vessel and a full boat of passengers ventured off the edge of the continental shelf and into deep water. 1000 metres to be exact. Here we found remnants of a predation. Oil slicks wind blown into streaks and a raft of birds cleaning themselves on the surface. With more birds swirling up ahead we tried our luck! And what luck we had.  

Nibbles, Akama and her little calf Dundette were socialising and very active on the surface for the morning! The big bull was paying us a lot of attention!! Every time we would move off to the rest of the pod, Nibbles would suck us back in with a slow close pass. They would only dive for two or so minutes and then be back beside our hulls. We were feeling very special but also aware of the increased time spent with these whales.  

We ventured back to the hotspot in search of more orca and to give this pod some time alone. Before we knew it we had circled back around and had Nibbles roaring towards us. No other orca seemed to be active today aside from this pod. But we weren’t complaining.  

This time the energy had increased and the orca were joined by the closely related pod containing Digby, Razor, Slug and co.  

These fourteen were now acting the same way the orca were this morning, very friendly and curious with the occasional calf surging out of the swell behind our wake.  

With plentiful close passes we placed a camera over the side and could spy on the orca from under the water. We managed to record a special and gentle moment between Nibbles and Akama. The two swam with heads together and bellies touching along our port side. With pectoral flippers extended, the two were touching each other. An important behaviour in orca, which represents close bonds and social connectivity. The equivalent to a human hug. An orcas skin is extremely sensitive to touch which means that even the slightest contact can be felt. We aren’t sure what they were gesturing or exactly what it means but it felt pretty special to be able to observe them in this way. 

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