Neo is BACK! We began the day by cruising along with little neo and his big brother Nani who has really grown into his fin since seeing him last season and is now the bull of his pod. The other youngsters were having a social hour, darting around the “teens” that were just “too cool” to play.
It wasn’t long until the juveniles started to surge. This instantly sparked our attention but we didn’t want to get our hopes up as every other recent surge had just been a part of their social behaviour. The adults soon started to join in! Slow surges soon developed into fierce porpoising. White water was erupting across the surface. The pod was on a mission! We started to notice other pods propelling toward us from every angle. We were now not only part of the pod but part of the HUNT!
Imagine standing on a bow with over 20 other eager passengers and crew, orcas rising and taking off ahead of you, the vessel speeding at 20 knots, your eyes trying to keep up with the energetic darts and flashes of orcas popping up in an instant! If you took a second to blink you’d miss the action! The charge lasted over 5 minutes, taking us up onto the continental shelf. Then, it all stopped, every orca had dropped. If you’d arrived at this moment you’d think the canyon was a barren, vast body of water. The anticipation was rising, where would they pop up? WHAT and where would it arise?!~
A small oil slick emerged behind us. As we pivoted around in a 180 the orcas started to rise back to the surface. All eyes intently scanning for any sign of what they’d either injured or already taken out of the gene pool (as Captain Dundee would say).
The orcas exhales after a long, energetic dive were piercing as they gasped for air. Birds were squabbling over the remains. THE REMAINS OF WHAT?
One of the more recent matriarchs Billie surfaced close enough to the vessel and down a wave that we all got a glimpse of a large chunk of meat in her mouth! As she edged closer it was reviled that she in fact had the entire beaked whales head clenched tightly in her jaw. It was as if she was showing it off like a trophy!!! Billie continued to hover with the head, lifting it enough that the beak would just break the surface for all to see!! The juveniles were taking turns ripping pieces of flesh from the decapitated head as Nani and a few other adults hung around as if they were in line at the drive through!
Every time the beaked whale remains broke the surface a small oil slick would form. It didn’t take long for the wind to waft the organic oily scent toward us for the whole boat to “enjoy”. The excitement of the kill stayed in the air, now with over 50 killer whales scattered as far as the eye could see.
The pods started to split back up into their own family groups. The matriarch was parading her feast around for almost two hours before finally indulging in the mornings efforts and sharing the rest of the remains out to her family. By the afternoon the swell had picked up and the kids were ready to play! As the calves were hull bound you could trace their outlines beneath the surface. At least 4 orcas under the age of 4 made our bow their playground for our remaining moments in the canyon. What an end to an epic day!