Still buzzing from yesterday’s hype of the predation we hoped today’s Orca action would deliver and it sure did. Dropping off the shelf we first came across a Wandering Albatross flying overhead. Wandering Albatross have the largest wingspan of any bird nearing on 3.5m! They’re often found hunting in the Bremer canyon foraging for squid, fish and small crustaceans as well as opportunistic feeding on Orca left overs.
Moving on into the canyon our attention was soon withdrawn from the albatross, sighting our apex predator in the distance. It was the splashes on the surface that caught out gaze as most of the time we first see a blow or a flock of birds above. We cruised over to investigate and soon realised the cause of the splash was Orcas socialising! It appeared to be 8 or 9 members of a young family of Orca jostling together in what looked like an Orca mosh pit. Nudging up against each other and rolling over one another, tail lobbing in between. Our expeditioner’s excitement exploded as the Orca’s energy escalated, tail slapping and cartwheeling out of the water. An Orca cartwheel is when they throw their fluke (tail) and rear body from side to side.
High energy during socialising is not uncommon among Orcas as they engage in this tactile behaviour rubbing rostrums and caressing each other with their pectoral fins. While observing them we began to hear them vocalising. Orcas vocalise to communicate with each other during social acts as well as to navigate in the form of echolocation.
They began surfacing on all corners of the boat, from the port to the starboard and behind us on the rear deck. During this close interaction we managed to not only get above water footage but also below surface imagery of them socialising beneath the boat. Using a GoPro pole cam we were able to capture the Orcas turning upside down and rolling on each other before swimming under the boat. Upon playing back the footage we also managed capture some of the vocalisations both above and beneath the water!
Just when we thought we’d seen enough, Split Tip’s pod emerged in front of us. Moving in a line surfacing and breathing in sync as if it was orcanized. We followed behind before being stopped by a sunfish surfacing on our portside. Distracted by the poise of the sunfish we nearly missed the enormous male dorsal fin that surfaced behind it! Unsure if we were going to finish the day with a possible sunfish predation we held our breath as we watched and waited while the huge bull loomed beneath. Unfazed by the ultimate predator the sunfish took a dive and we lost sight of both animals ending the day. That is, until tomorrow.
The Bremer Canyon Crew