Hey Everyone, my name is Alex and I am one of this week’s marine interns. This was my third day out in the Bremer Canyon and so far, has been my favourite. This is my first time in Bremer Bay and seeing the world-renowned hotspot for orca activity.
I have been absolutely blown away by what I have seen so far.
In the morning as we started making our way out the famous canyons at the continental shelf, I had a feeling it was going to be a good day. The swell was high and the winds were blowing, the perfect conditions for observing orcas.
Literally as soon as we reached the ‘hotspot’ in the Bremer canyon we saw them! It was the male bull named Nibbles and his pod. They were patrolling the area going east and west and then turning back around. They would dive for about 5 minutes at a time trying to echolocate their favourite meal, the beaked whale. A little calf named Blade and her mother Razor came over to the boat to check us out. Half an hour later another pod joined them. This pod has a bull named Digby and these two pods are often seen hunting and playing together. With the swell out in the Southern Ocean high, the orcas were riding the waves which was so awesome to see, it was like they were surfing!
We continued alongside these two pods as they were trying to locate food for another hour before they disappeared. We did see an oil slick which is an indication that they attacked a marine mammal but not much else.
There was a quiet period for about another hour. With the conditions a bit rough we were just about to slowly make our way back when the captain saw two bulls surging and splashing in the distance.
We started to head in the direction they were heading as they are surging forward with the waves at incredible speeds.
Then they disappeared. We started wondering if it was a decoy to lead us away from the kill or if they genuinely were on a mission to kill.
Once again we waited…another 10 minutes and nothing. We were about to call it off then suddenly, a pod comes up in front of us, then on the sides, and then behind us. There were orcas everywhere!!! The hunt is on!
At the peak of the predation, we had at least 4 pods with Noosa, Urkel, Split Tip, Maleko, and Mako ORCA-strating the kill!
We started seeing several oil slicks meaning that the animal is alive and, on the move, but injured from the orcas. The hunt lasted roughly 1 hour as oil continued to spread across the ocean. They were in formations trying to kill the animal with some of the females looking after the calves at the back. They started to slow down and stay at the surface more often and form into a tight pod against one another. This is a sign of a kill.
We saw from the boat that one of the females (WA-036) had the entirety of the whale INTACT and clenched in her mouth. They often carry them around as a trophy and a sign of success. The different pods stayed relativity close together as they shared the meat around. As the pods started dispersing, we stayed with the pod whose female had the beak. They started playing around with each other, surfing and tail slapping. I saw my first spy hops as well!
It was then getting late so we returned to land in awe from what we just witnessed; mother nature at her finest
It was such an epic day on the water, and I can’t wait for what I see next!