We didn’t find orca until after lunch today, making it all that more rewarding when we sighted that first fin slicing through the surface. We had searched all the usual places, S-Bends, Occy’s Garden and Shrek’s Head before rolling the dice and heading deep south toward the 2000m contour line. It is a rarer sight to encounter the orca where we did today, but usually, when we do it pays off! We first spotted a skyscraper-sized dorsal fin between the Knob and Henry Canyon. The trench systems between the two canyons exceed 2500m at their deepest points and is where we hit the JACKPOT today, to say the least! Two large male dorsal fins soon turned to three, four, FIVE further in the distance. We encountered some old friends for the first time this season, Koomba, Mako, Chalky, Maleko and of course Nibbles and Digby were there too! The five+ pods were all intermingled over three-mile, male fins scattered through the chaos! Juveniles darted toward us, almost every time turning upside down so their underbellies glowed as they darted across and under the bow! NOBODY knew where to look, spy-hops, breaches, and tail flicks, all the way around the clock!
Such social behaviour from this many pods has only ever been encountered one other time over our 6 years out here in the Canyon, which involved similar courtship and mating interactions. The males were showing off to the seemingly endless array of potential female courters! The ACTION quickly shifted from such a diverse range of activities occurring at every angle to EVERY pod surging in one direction. The pods grouped into their tight echelon formations, three on our left, two on our right. We also had the “nursery” of surging matriarchs and their calves porpoising right next to the vessel as everyone cheered in awe! Razor and Blade leading the way! As we slowed down the pods all joined into two MASSIVE lines, honestly, we couldn’t keep count, at LEAST 60+ orca were headed toward and under our vessel. Customers were scattered from the back deck to the bow and everywhere in between as they witnessed a canyon FIRST! It was as if the entire Bremer Bay orca population were in one place, the largest social encounter we have EVER witnessed! SO MANY familiar faces (or dorsals) cruised past us including Lucky, Slug, Malibu, Bindi, Dot and even MORE that we had NEVER seen before. This moment will go down in the history books, leaving many in tears or the widest grins you’ve ever seen. Another great day for Bremer Bay Whale Watching!