We had a rough trip out to the blue office today. Our bumpy passage was rewarded as soon as we arrived at the hotspot. There were birds everywhere. There were pods of killer whales everywhere. One of the pods we could see close by looked the most interesting. They had started to surge, exploding from the wave faces trailing streams of whitewater as they went, heading for the shallows of the shelf. We followed at a respectful distance, excited by the activity we have learned to associate with hunting. Unexpectedly, the pod made a rapid detour back into the deep water on the canyon. As suddenly as it had begun, their surging stopped. The seabird contingent began to disperse too. Perhaps it was the lucky day of the possible prey today.
The slower pace and regular surfacing alongside allowed us to recognise El Notcho and Cookie’s pod. We enjoyed regular sightings of the well known family over the next hour, however they were more interested in matters of their own today, so we left them and approached one of the three pods we had been keeping an eye on. They were travelling at speed, and small oil slicks began to appear around us. We left them to the unseen rewards of their hunting efforts as we scanned the rough chop for our next encounter.
Yet another pod appeared 500m behind our wake. The killer whales were a magnificent sight as they made their way through the lumpy seas, surging from the face of the humped grey swells, a common behaviour that saves energy when travelling. Suddenly, their behaviour changed. We will never know the reason but will forever remember the result.
Split Tip and the the rest of one of our favourite families had decided to indulge in some close investigation of our vessel. Individuals porpoised alongside and swam directly toward our us, making pass after pass. Meanwhile on the back deck, two juveniles and an adult female rocketed just under the surface, effortlessly keeping pace. Many times we held our breath, trying to anticipate when the clearly outlined bodies would break the surface, their whooshing exhalation filling the air as they did so. They made multiple disappearances into our wake, only to resurface where we were least expecting, testing our expeditioners sea legs as they staggered from port to starboard, determined not to miss a minute of the oceanic hide and seek playing out around them.
The orca seemed to enjoy the sensation they were creating on board if the repeat performances were anything to go by. With a following sea, we kept up with the pod with relative ease, enjoying the ultimate wildlife experience, up close and personal with wild animals that had chosen to approach us.
The Bremer Canyon Crew