Today was all about keeping a low profile for the orcas as they had already eaten breakfast on our arrival as we approached on a slowly dissipating oil slick on the 1000m contour line. The first pod we sighted were tightly grouped and hanging on the surface suggesting they may have been resting after their big feed.
This pod made up of Maleko, one of the canyons big bulls, Kidji, a large female and two other females with their calves and they were keeping their distance. Another pod with similar family dynamics and in sleep mode was made up of Nibbles (aka B-Slice), two big females with a juvenile (more than 5 years old) and Razor with the smallest calf I have ever seen in the canyon! The little orange tacker was being shepherded by the females almost to the point where they weren’t ready to show it off to the world yet.
We did capture a few sneaky photographs to show you all…. The gestation period for orcas is around 17 months and once the calf is born it will suckle for up to two years! After the first year of birth solids will start to be introduced but the calf will heavily rely on its mother and other females in the pod for many years! It is great to see the orcas with numerous offspring as it is a good indication of a healthy population.
Razor has been sighted occasionally around the canyon this season without a calf so we are speculating on its age and if it is even her calf or one of the other females in the pod.
The two pods raised the energy levels around lunch and surged off with Razors pod boosting along beside us but they quickly pulled back as it is a fast pace for a little orca.
A potentially unsuccessful hunt this time around although a few small squid bodies and parts surfaced and soon eaten by the opportunistic pelagic birds. The orca gave up on feeding and returned to their sleepy mood for the afternoon. This time they were a lot friendlier with both pods joined into the one and our passengers were treated with slow close passes by the tight group of 12 or so orcas.