Today was remarkable, it was textbook, it was orca hunt perfection!
The forecast of rough seas manifested in some hearty lines of swell, strong easterlies and darn good fun on the bow of the boat. The kind of feelings you get on a roller coaster, but with the occasional spray of salty Southern Ocean in your face. Exhilarating to say the least! Today was special, it was fun and it was so nice to see healthy happy animals all around. We had lot of orca action and a very healthy boat load of passengers. Both the orca and the weather gods were smiling on us.
I’ll keep it brief, but here are the juicy snippets.
– Orcas around the boat ALL day. We were literally surrounded. Many passes under, close glimpses and fun interactions.
– A passing sperm whale to say hello.
– The Orcas hunting, circling back across the hotspot over and over again. It was Nibbles and Digby’s pods. Razor the powerful matriarch was there, as were Blade and Shep. The whole gang were feeling social and also super heightened by the energetic conditions.
– A long-nosed fur seal out there lounging around amongst the orcas (obviously not prey).
NOW FOR THE HUNT… The power and the wonder of the animals was seen in their strategy today, as they searched, circled back, surged and repeated, over and over again. We knew they were hungry as they seemed to have been searching the last couple of days. But today, it all just clicked. The birds were up, they were pumped. The hunt ebbed and flowed, the beaked whale they were going for seemed to lose the orcas for a while, but then they were back on, and they were tiring out.
Finally, across the silvery sheen of the turbulent ocean they appeared, the whole pod all lined up. When we see this we know they are dealing their final knock out blow. Beneath them, the animal they are hunting will be tiring, and finally drowning. It sounds dramatic, but out there we know this is life. Watching their mastery is a form of perfection. We don’t know if it was several beaked whales that were eaten, or if it was one being divided up and shared out amongst the orca there. What we do know is that there were several huge oil slicks, the glean was bright and the smell potent, and seabirds came from far and wide to sip the oil. Literally hundreds of flesh footed shearwater, storm petrel and albatross were swirling in a buzz. And around our boat the big matriarch paraded with her prize, a hunk of mammal meat. A hammerhead shark came in briefly, attracted by the commotion, then left in a hurry. Maybe not a safe place to be at that time.
Today was about the strategy of the orcas, the knowledge and dedication of our crew to read the situation and the spectacle that was dancing light, stormy skies, moody cloud and a scene where everything culminated to work like clockwork. What a fitting a completely on point day to farewell our fantastic and dedicated photographer Jodie. There aren’t many who love these animals as much as she does. It was an honour to share this day with you Jodie.