On arrival to the Bremer Canyon we were greeted by the regulars El Notcho, Cookie and of course little Oreo. With Skipjack Tuna busting out of the water’s surface the foraging orca must have been fishing as small oil slicks were regularly seen. They were emptying their tummies for more food as El Notcho left us a large green deposit within the swell, an unusual delight for passengers. This pod never approached to close to our vessel although were in range of identifying individuals and we commend our passengers for being extremely understanding of this as we are in a wild environment and the orca will lead every interaction that we have.
We headed off to find some more playful orca and we stumbled upon a new pod, Alki, Razor and a newly sprouting male with a perfect triangular dorsal. They surged head on into the wind and swell, today’s weather is what we wait for, its perfect southern ocean killer whale watching experience! Our vessel which is built for the southern ocean laps it up as much as our passengers do, having a thrilling ride and experiencing the raw beauty of the area!
With birds here and there and orca moving with intent but in no particular direction we were left in suspense waiting for that moment for the orca to kick off! Suddenly Split Tip and her pod moved in, being as playful as ever! They treated us to a spectacle by surfing through the waves and then a close pass on the bow by Noosa turned into a breach!! Her whole body sprung out of the water and made a perfect dive entry back in.
Suddenly this pod was joined by at least another two pods…. These orca appeared from out of nowhere and they had brought a very special guest with them… A GRAYS BEAKED WHALE! This poor bugger was very much out of his comfort zone being flanked now by multiple orca pods. The hunt was occurring right in this moment, the orca were about to take down the Beaked whale! The line-up, with Noosa in charge, consisted of multiple mums and calves as we may have been witnessing another training hunt for the youngsters! With impatient calves tail slapping and spy hopping we knew they were eager to feed! The girthy Noosa constructed the final blow by bulldozing the beaky and pushing it down into the depths.
A small oil slick appeared and as we eagerly awaited what was going to happen next, half of the orca surged off again!!! Could they have been chasing a whole pod of beaked whales and were going to take down another one? Surging along with the swell behind us we struggled to keep up with the speed of the Orca. They dove on one spot and were down for what was only a few minutes but felt like forever! Having left the other hunting orca behind the group was now only a mere ten to fifteen orca on the second hunt and by now it was time for some bulls to arrive with Mako providing the back up.
Orca gradually appeared on the surface again and a large blood bubble suggested the hunt was over, and the beaked whales were now orca afternoon tea. Several other predation bubbles hit the surface and our passengers were overwhelmed with the organic mammalian smell that can only be experienced by being out in the canyon amongst the action. We had just witnessed two predations all in a moment’s notice, trying to understand what had just occurred in front of us!
By now the birds were in the hundreds with multiple Wandering Albatrosses waiting for an opportune snack! A large brave wanderer struck gold and pinched a chunk of red meat off the surface and gobbled it up right in front of a hungry orca.
With Orca and birds on the surface feeding and no doubt many, many sharks now below us, it was time to say goodbye to the Canyon arriving back into the dock on a stunning sunset!