Three days of calming, aery ocean and three days of docile, illusive orca UNTIL everything escalated in an INSTANT! Were first taken out to the Hood Canyon, where the seafloor descends another 800m from its already 1500m edge! The orca weren’t here for long before taking us back to the hotpot where they spent extended periods below the surface, popping up at a different trajectory each and every time they rose. In the blink of an eye the orca picked up speed, launching their bodies and propelling even their tails right out of the water, surging away from the vessel. The call had gone out, FOOD was close by and it was time to rally the troops! We could now see a pod at our 12 O’clock well over 6 mile away AND orca coming up our rear at speed. Whether you looked to the port or the starboard you could see orca surging past us like absolute weapons! We were smack bang in the middle of the action!
The orca took us for an 8 mile run, withstanding their speed the entirety of the pursuit! Cheering at the bow while we could hear screaming from the stern, orca were now punching through the white water behind us and porpoising their entire bodies out of the swell, what an incredible sight!!! Being part of a hunt is equal parts exhilarating and suspenseful!!! What were they charging us towards and would they be successful?! The two pods had now reached the other pod which was out in front, all forming an echelon formation at the surface as they drove their prey to the surface. We finally got our first glimpse of their meal, a beaked whale swam frantically just ahead of the pod, whilst the other started to form a circle, tail slapping to not let it surface. All three pods worked together, ORCAstrating the kill as though it had been choreographed to perfection. The beaked whales took a dive amongst the black and white tornado of orca that followed it to the depths. Everything went silent, not a fin in sight, the surface was still and the atmosphere became increasingly aery as we awaited what was about to unfold right before our eyes.
For over 5 minutes…NOTHING! Then just ahead of the boat the orca surfaced, the orca exhaling left right and centre before arching their peduncles into the air to propel them back below the surface. Had they been successful? It was likely as the orca dived within a tight area, heavily outnumbering the lone solider. It wasn’t long before we saw the first piece of evidence, a red and white piece of flesh within a bulls mouth, brining it right alongside the vessel, almost showing it off! Flapper (one of our mothers) soon appeared at the surface with half the carcass in her mouth, inclusive of the entire beak as it stuck right out of the water. Flapper logged at the surface beside the boat as the calf and other orca took turns ripping pieces off of the mangled remains. The orca started to split off into their own pods again, all taking turns with the meat, dropping it as another dove to pick it up. We definitely had a front row seat to nature performing at its most raw! There was barely an oil slick or any signs of blood and scraps at the surface! The orca must’ve been very hungry as the birds barely scored a feed! The action soon dissipated and the ocean was still again, and just like that it was as though nothing had ever happened! Not a piece of evidence remained!