We didn’t have to search for Orca today, spotting them right off the shelf on either side of the boat! One was so close we could follow the trail of the whale’s foot prints that he left behind, all the way up the portside. Whales footprints are the displacements of water on the surface caused by the downward stroke of their fluke (tail). Whale footprints are one of our key indicators for spotting Orca along with oil slicks and bird swirls.
The close pod began diving beneath the boat surfacing at the bow impressing our passengers before leading us westwards. We followed them in and out of the hotspot along the 1000m contour line which the Orcas seem to like to patrol. This particular pod seemed to have a few sub adult males with straightening dorsal fins. The dorsal fins of juvenile males are difficult to distinguish from those of females, however as they become physically mature their dorsal develops to an erect triangular shape. Adult male dorsal fins near on 2m tall with females half the size illustrating their sexual dimorphism. Orcas are sexually dimorphic as the males are distinguishably larger than the females. Males grow over 9m weighing 6 tonnes whereas the females get to 7m weighing 3 tonnes.
The energy picked up in the afternoon with the Orca surging in a line. All 9 including a calf were piercing through the swell at racing speeds. We picked up our pace just to keep up with them, to see if they were on to anything. We followed them into an oil slick with birds swirling above, however they must have arrived too late to participate in the kill. The Orcas milled around the spreading oil slick diving every few minutes.
A short while after the Orcas took a dive we spotted another pod surfacing 200m away. Upon closer examination we realised it wasn’t another pod of Orca but instead a pod of Long Finned Pilot whales. There seemed to be over 30 of them all surging through the swell alongside the vessel, much to the delight of the passengers. Pilots are also sexual dimorphic with the males reaching 6.7m 2.3 tonnes and the females 5.7m and 1.3 tonnes. We watched the large pod of pilots as they made their way through the canyon ending our day.
The Bremer Canyon Crew