Complete cloud cover and grey skies made for an already ominous morning as we ventured toward the canyon. On our arrival, we were instantly greeted by the Huntress (Split-tip) and the rest of her girl gang! The first glimpse our customers had of orca in the wild was RIGHT alongside us – you had to lean over and look straight down they were that close! WHAT A START to the day!
Over the next three days our other vessel Dhu Force is running pelagic tours full eager bird watchers, twitching to sight the rarest in flight! Between us and the other vessel was a second pod with a third further off in the distance. With our huntress and our other keen killers in the area; Split-tip, Razor, Noosa, Urkel, Flapper, Cookie, El Notcho, we were all anticipating a takedown!
For the first time in almost a week, the orca were staying near the surface! The morning was filled with close passes, free-willies and playful juveniles! It was quite the social interaction. Before lunch, the rain had set in! Of course, the wet conditions didn’t bother the orca, it almost made them more playful! The surface activity increased, now spy-hops and belly-flops, soon followed by SURGING!
The entire aggregation of orca changed direction in an instant! You could track their movements just beneath the surface from the glow of their saddle-patches. Every orca porpoised through the swell with white-water wrapping around their face! We had Flapper and two other large females surfacing in unison, right beside us! Razors tail made an incredible CRACK, tail slapping after every breath! She was excited!
By now the low-frequency call for FOOD must’ve gone out, dissipating throughout the entire canyon because even MORE orca were coming in hot! Blows and surges scattered across the already white-cap ridden waves! We had OVER 50 orca in the vicinity!
Moments later the orca were all up, they’d successfully driven a very large, mature beaked whale to the surface. Oil slicks formed instantly, the smell was strong and the ocean was dark. Excited orca on the outskirts were already displaying their excitement through breaches and tail-slaps!
The pods had forced the beaked whale RIGHT alongside our bow. We were witnessing nature in its rawest form. Today must’ve been another training drill for the young up and comers. Blade who isn’t even one yet was right amongst the action, throwing his entire body over the beaked whale as it scrambled at the surface and gasped for air.
We were even lucky enough to get a close pass by NEO! Nani’s pod had arrived just in time!
You could see the bite marks on the underside of the beaked whales tail, they were trying to disable the 4-5 tonne animal. Every time we watched the orca drive it back down we thought I’d be the last…this went on for over an HOUR! The tired, bleeding and severely wounded beaked whale sure put up a fight! There were easily over 50 orca between us and the other vessel. The orca continued to surface with their prey on the inside of the boats, leaving NOTHING to the imagination.
By now the excited males were breaching, setting off a chain reaction as the juveniles followed suit! It was time for the TAKEDOWN! Split-tip surfaced out of nowhere and did what she does best, the KILL! The matriarchs assembled and began to distribute the remains out to their pods. In the blink of an eye it was over. The pods separated and continued to rejoice the action! The build-up and anticipation of the kill was over. All that was left were the birds and the copious amounts of oil, which glistened over the surface and wafted through our nostrils!
This was the most graphic and elaborate kill of the season. We had finally witnessed the hunt from the chase right through to the predation! Everyone was left in awe and even more so after encountering our second hammerhead shark in two days! We love watching the dynamics and composition of the canyons ecosystem shift throughout the season! WHAT will be next?
As we headed for home we were again escorted by a huge pod of common dolphins, more than 5 riding EVERY wave as they gunned down our wake! It’s a legendary day for our killer whale watching in bremer canyon supporters.!