Gloomy morning to pure afternoon bliss.
While thunder and lightning threatened our boarding passengers this morning, the crew tried their best to convince them of the bliss awaiting in the canyon. Although wet and wild, the ensuing cold fronts meant a sigh of relief from the easterlies. The seas had calmed after weeks of constant strong easterly winds, a welcomed relief.
With at least three small fronts passing over us while we were out in the canyon, we were greeted by the usual suspects.
Tatty, Kidji and Maleko were quick on scene with the two juveniles from this pod not far behind. These two juveniles do a swim-by almost every time we see this pod. Zipping across our bow, quick turn around and back past again. For most passengers today this was the first time they had ever witnessed orca! An experience that will no doubt last a lifetime. The two juveniles were unfazed by our presence and continued onwards with the rest of the pod.
This pod was joined by Chalky, Hookfin, Cookie, Oreo, El Notcho, and at least ten others. There was a slight break in the clouds with a couple rays beaming down onto us! The sun was beginning to shine and the orca began SURGING! Just like that they were off in all directions. The pods we were watching took off one way and another two both went in opposite directions… which ones do we follow? Where is the action going to be!?
We figured to try our luck staying with the matriarchs – Cookie, Tatty and Kidji and it paid off. A feisty albatross was squawking and chasing down the smaller shearwaters to defend its own little slice of orca lunch leftovers. It carried away a small bloody chunk of flesh from whatever the orcas had just hunted. The excitement was pulsated throughout the boat with all eyes on Cookie who was now carrying a large chunk of SOMETHING! Without being able to see it properly out of the water, we are too uncertain to say WHAT sort of prey it was exactly.
While we were looking forwards at the action, there was bubbling in our wake! Pilot whales had joined the commotion, and were following us who were following orca. The little silver bullet pilot whale calves are too damn cute! They are still showing fetal folds and not straying too far from their Mummas. This pod of about fifty whales didn’t chase us for much longer, they headed off towards the horizon to find their own feast.
Chalky’s Close Up
With the pilots out of the vicinity the orcas slowed, still holding onto their catch. The sea birds were scrambling to get a small scrap but Cookie was not letting go! While the three boss females cruised along we were able to witness, not one but TWO orca bulls up close! Chalky was making sure our camera got his good side by passing again and again past our bow AND stern. I know I know, I must be repeating myself when I say they did it over and over but the last few days have given us unrivalled close up action. It’s not just the curious calves, but both sexes and all maturity levels. Chalky’s close ups were slowed riiiighhhhht down. We idled and let him cross, he is the one in charge out there in the canyon.
Before we knew it the clouds had dissipated and we were in full sun! The wind had dropped right off and we were able to enjoy an afternoon of bliss with the orca of Bremer Bay.