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Matriarch Music

1.03.2022 

Matriarch Music 
 

The weather here in Bremer Bay can swing between glass-off days and thunderous sea conditions. Yesterday was on the ‘hairy’ side which meant it was safer for us to leave the boat on the mooring.  

After spending yesterday on land, our feet were itching to be back on the water again. And boy were we glad to be back out with the black and white apex predators. It was as if the orca were making up for the missed day!  

Our first sighting of the cetacean’s was white wash. From a distance, we couldn’t make it out if it was orca or not. All we could see was some form of splashing. We pushed up, going with the swell. On closer inspection we could see Orca!  

The distinct white eye patch appearing above the surface and then the black falcate dorsal fin slicing through milliseconds later. Not long after we spied the first orca, we could see more and more. We were surrounded by Split Tip’s family pod. They were far spread with at least six orca within two swell lines of our vessel.  

They were surging, surfing and porpoising with the swell to a land far far away. Also known as Shrek’s Head.  

Once here in the ‘front swamp’, the orca put the brakes on and slowed right down. Instead of typically slowing to dive on their prey they slowed up and began to socialise. The calves were being entertained by the sprouting adolescent male Wonks and were rolling and pushing each other. In a show of affection but also training, the two calves would hit Wonks from either side and try swim on top of him. A move observed in hunting behaviour. By this point in the day there were more and more orca hanging around the swamp! In total, three pods that we could count and more, even further out.  

Split Tip also came in for a moment which will forever be etched into my memory. She swam past two or three times, as did the rest of the pod. Doing their usual “hull inspection”. Then she turned back and pulled up next to us. Very confidently she raised her belly up beside us. Lifting it almost entirely out of the water! 

With a camera slipped in beside our vessel we could watch her from under the water too. She rolled back to the right way up and began chatting to us!!! With squeaks that could be heard from the surface and blowing mini bubbles our jaws dropped!! She then dipped back down under the water and was facing our camera. From here we thought, that would be nice!  

On the way back in we tend to review our footage. From underwater we captured the matriarch Split Tip in full vocalisation, calling out to her family, and then she opens her mouth to show off her chompers. The squeaking top-side was amplified when she dipped below. A call we don’t often get to hear. How lucky we were to be there at this moment. 

Blog by Pia and Images by Pia and Simone Porter, our onboard photographer. 

 

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