We encountered very docile and relaxed orca today, quite the opposite to the day prior! Orca generally have to eat at least 5% of their body weight each day which equates to around 250kg for fully grown animals! With 10+ orca in each pod that is a LOT of food (fish/mammals) they have to hunt each day. It seems we must’ve JUST missed any large predations with the behaviour we witnessed today. Throughout the day the orcas surface times changed frequently, suggesting they were diving sub-surface scanning their area of the canyon for anything that was unlucky enough to pass into their tracks! Small oil slicks over the duration of the tour meant they were feeding on smaller prey such as fish and bait balls below the surface.
It is very rare for our large bulls to approach the boat as closely as El Notcho has been this season (especially today). The bulls are usually a lot more cautious as they closely patrol the waters around and beneath the vessel while their pod comes to check us out! We were lucky enough to have three different encounters of multiple pods coming in VERY close proximity of the boat, so close you jumped at the sound of their blows! There is truly nothing more magnificent and jaw dropping than an orca turning on its side and eyeballing you as you look down at them before they vanish off into the deep blue! (Only to pop up on the other side to shock the other customers)!
El Notchos pod has a young calf amidst their family! When calves are still very young they appear to have an orange tinge to them! This is due to their blubber not yet being fully developed around their body, hence the blood vessels and capillaries being closer to the surface, giving them an orange tinge! This calves orange colouration was almost gone but still seemed so tiny in comparison to the rest of the pod (especially El Notcho). The calf was incredibly active today, with behaviours such as tiny spy hops, attempted tail slaps and almost half breaches!
Throughout the course of the day there were at least 40+ orca in the canyon! Multiple pods kept their distance while some individuals infiltrated other pods to “socialise” and play! We also came across split tip amongst El Notchos pod, making her first appearance for the season!
We can’t wait for WHO and WHAT we see tomorrow! It was another GREAT day in Bremer Bay!