An icy wind blew across the harbour this morning as crew prepared the boat for the day’s killer whale expedition! As we move further into autumn, we should start seeing these ice-cold mornings more often although it does not seem to deter the orca!
There they were, right on the thousand metre contour line as per our expectations! The first pod we encountered was made up of the big bulls Mako and El Notcho and accompanying them were multiple adult females and a handful of sub-adults to round out the group.
They were feeding with various small oil slicks appearing on the surface, and the longer we stayed with this pod the more pelagic birds began congregating creating a large bird swirl above the apex predators. It wasn’t long until the peace was disturbed by the angry sausages of the southern ocean (Pilot Whales). They charged right up to us and the orca, potentially searching for left over fish or squid from the orcas recent hunt. The orca dropped deep beneath the two large pods of approximately TWO HUNDRED Pilot Whales. An amazing encounter with the pilots as they slowed to a cruising speed, allowing us to get a glimpse of the tiny calves still showing foetal folds and a large adult male missing the back half of his dorsal fin! – see photo below.
With the pilots having moved away the orca surfaced again continuing their foraging. This avoidance behaviour is fairly common as we have had many Pilot Whale and Killer Whale encounters of this sort this 2019 season.
As the sun had moved across the sky and the wind had completely dropped off causing the sea to relax, El Notcho made an appearance. He was escorting Swirl, a large adult female around the canyon with the rest of his pod following not too far off. These two love birds came in a few times to check out our vessel before moving off for some privacy.
By now it was time to head home with a quick stop under a golden sky at Glasse Island to look at the very cute and curious endangered Australian Sea Lions. A large male was showing his dominance by being the King of the Island sitting right at the top amongst the islands vegetation.