Footnote: “Marine Biology Intern. A Week In Review”

Orca Adventure Update for the 15th of March, 2020,

Hi, I’m Bailey, the Marine Biology Intern for this past week aboard the Alison Maree. It’s been a jam-packed week out in the Bremer canyon and we’ve been treated to some absolutely spectacular wildlife encounters! The first few days out on the water were a bird-watcher’s paradise, with albatross and little shearwater flying in close proximity to the boat, allowing for some perfect photo ops! There was never much time to focus on the birds though, as the orca never seemed to be far behind, sometimes swimming straight under the boat before surfacing right alongside us. On Monday we were even lucky enough to have a mother swim directly beside the boat with her young calf in tow!

As the week progressed I slowly gained my sea legs, and was rewarded with views of up to 7 orca pods at a time on multiple days. Seeing this many orca at once was a treat in itself, but it was even more exciting on Wednesday when orca from around the canyon seemed to be converging somewhere to the south west. Convinced they must be headed to the site of an orca kill, we excitedly followed for hours, only for the orca to lead us on a wild goose chase. We were slightly disappointed but hey, watching orca from the comfort of a boat doesn’t make for a half bad afternoon!

Saturday brought with it rough conditions but also some super playful orca like I’d never seen before. Not long after reaching the hotspot, we found ourselves surrounded by several pods of orca, and no matter where you looked you could see them breaching and throwing themselves into the waves. It was incredible to watch and definitely made braving the strong swell worth it for all on board! One of my favourite photos of the orca breaching is shown above!

I’d thought Saturday would be impossible to top, but it turns out the Bremer Canyon was holding out on me, and gave me a spectacular send-off on Sunday after all! The day looked promising from the get-go when we sighted a pod of bottlenose dolphins in the shallows before we’d even left the boat ramp, raising excitement levels early on. By the time we reached the hotspot everyone was itching to see some orca, but what we weren’t expecting was to see upwards of 50 pilot whales, visible in all directions around the boat, with some even swimming backstroke as they glided past us joyfully. These whales were super friendly, swimming and playing by the boat for at least an hour, while we watched on in awe. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, we spotted a logging sperm whale just 200m off the boat. Likely a juvenile male, this whale appeared to be solitary and remained near the surface just long enough for us to get a glimpse, before disappearing into the depths of the canyon. Before we cruised home for the day, El Notcho’s pod surfaced alongside the boat one last time, giving everyone one final glimpse of the orca. Such an incredible day truly was the most perfect way to end an amazing week of encounters out in the Bremer Bay Canyon, and was a day I’ll absolutely never forget.

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