Cookie and El Notcho’s pod, who have been in the canyon right from the beginning of the season made an appearance first thing today as we ventured into the hotspot and after many relaxed close passes around all sides of the boat they had most certainly captured our passenger’s attention! This pod may have become two as Echo, a young male soon joined in on the close proximity action! Circling around the boat and then diving suggesting foraging-style behaviour.
Our next VIP (very important pod) was Split Tip and the orange –tinged Lil Machi closely followed by who we suspect is her mother, Flapper and then Billie another sweet young female. These girls paraded around the boat for a short while before diving and foraging just as the first pod had.
We soon became distracted by a large pod of Common Dolphins, they shot straight for the boat trying to evade the closely looming Orca. Their energetic bullet like bodies bounced out of the water and passed under the vessel so close you could almost touch them and then they began riding the bow wave for a free trip out of orca territory. Orcas and common dolphins are from the same family “Delphinidae” and both share characteristic traits of being very inquisitive and also playful.
Split Tip soon returned and was being very closely flanked by Mako. Mako being the big bull he is would not normally approach the boat this close but with his eyes fixed on the lovely lady orca he was passing across the bow and then upside down in the water showing his big white ventral side (belly!). Any romance action was kept below the surface adding even more to the mystery of these Killer Whales.
As if we weren’t spoilt with close encounters today a pod of beaked whales emerged from the depths very close to our vessel. Looking a little flustered and just as taken aback as we were, they were quick to catch their breath and dive again. As we idled in place the Orca were closing in on the area but seemed to be in no rush, the air was thick with nervous energy as we waited to see if there was a confrontation… the beakies dived in front of our vessel with the orca not taking much notice of them. Soon a small oil slick emerged but there was no other sign of a predation, how could the orcas leave such a big meal alone? Were they full from foraging on smaller prey all day??
How lucky were we to have experienced so many close encounters today from a wide variety of cetaceans, especially the rather unexpected and uncommon sighting of the beaked whales.