As everyone has flocked to Bremer Bay for the Easter weekend, we had a full house on the boat today. Everywhere we looked there were excited faces eager and waiting to meet the Southern Ocean’s apex predator. But the mammals of the canyon were teasing us! BLOWS at 11 o clock! A sperm whale graced us with her presence, taking a few breaths, stocking up on oxygen before sounding her tail and diving for the depths. FINS AT 5 o clock! We motored towards the source of the action to find beaked whales – the orca’s FAVOURITE FOOD surfacing to take a breath and heading back into deep blue sea, running away from their orca cousins that would love to have them for lunch.
Finally, blows on the horizon lead us to our black and white friends, the orca. If you read yesterday’s blog, you know that individual killer whales have several identifying features. The large male in today’s pod – usually the easiest to identify, had a clean fin, no notches or cuts and an eye patch that didn’t match any individuals in the catalogue we have on the boat, so keep an eye out for an ID after we investigate further. Not being orcas we see very often, this pod was curious but wary of the boat. Orcas have downward set eyes, so to get a good look at us and sus out what’s going on, they come right up and swim alongside the boat, but on their backs! Showing off their white bellies. Another awesome behaviour we got to witness today was the orcas spyhopping – swimming vertically upwards, and sticking their heads out of the water so they can get a good look. Although we think we’re watching the whales, the whales are really the ones watching us!
As a second generation twitcher I feel obliged to give a full bird report, and it was Alby central today! Wandering, Black browed, Indian Yellow Nose, Campbell’s you name it! These were joined by our usual suspects the Flesh Footed Shearwater and Wilson’s Storm Petrel. We’re unsure of how they do it, but the birds of the canyon seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to the action, and big bird swirls above the water often let us know that something exciting is going on below.
As we turned to head home, the orcas finally started to show some interest – typical! Surfing in the wake of the boat, they were sure to give us one final show and leave everyone on the boat smiling from ear to ear.
If you’re joining us on the boat tomorrow, the Easter Orca may be paying a visit to the boat, so look out for a hidden egg or two, and remember to take a sea sickness tablet before you come – it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!