We hadn’t even made it onto the roof to start scanning when we heard the cheers for ORCA! The 1000m contour line was the the opening to the deep blue gates of the canyon where our orca rose from the depths like a pack of hunting wolves. A thick storm cloud seemed to follow the pod as they encroached the vessel. Our customers weren’t at all bothered by a little rain as every wave crest seemed to uncover more and more dorsal fins! Before long their were easily two dozen orca spanning 180 degrees from our 9-3 O’clock. As we scanned the dorsal scarring, nicks and notches to identify the pods we came across the SMALLEST dorsal fin we have EVER seen! Another new calf and boy oh boy it was playful! Throughout the day the calf persisted to get closer and closer to the vessel, almost nudging the mum out of the way, flopping over her to get a look at us! Every turn and manoeuvre was so entertaining as the calf attempted to mimic the older members of the pod! The calf gave us a nice little tail slap, barely making a splash as it swam away from the boat (showing us how small it truly was!). Our amazing cetacean guide (Machi) who specialises with Japanese orca got some amazing GoPro footage, which later revealed that the youngster was a new little girl (we will call her Machi)! Pods of orca are made up of grannies, mothers and their calves whom pass down their skills to their children! So one day this little one may indeed be the matriarch of her own pod!
Soon after the excitement of the calf passed,the clouds parted, the sun shone down and the fins started to glisten, making the orca easy to spot! Minutes later the energy grew tenfold! Splashes and white water at every angle, flashes of black and white catching everyones eye before darting off ahead of us! The hunt was on and the pod’s seemed to be communicating to rally the troops! Before long footprints dotted the surface, the orca were diving! Minutes passed with no sight of our apex friends. We could only guess what was happening beneath us at this point. Soon enough dorsal fins started to break the surface! No slick, no meat, no lunch for the pod this time! Over the next hour we followed the pod as they trailed away from the hotspot only to turn back, repeating this behaviour multiple times. We came across small oil slicks, suggesting the group were feeding on a school of pelagic fish sub-surface. Our customers all left smiling today, and a big HELLO and thank you to Rachael who has been following us for the past four years and has finally been able to make it down to the canyon!