Surfing Orcas!

 Hey guys, my name is Joey and I’m lucky enough to be this weeks marine intern for Naturaliste Charters!

 

We hit the spot and as the name suggests we had our first sighting within 10 minutes! The old familiar fin of El Notcho welcomed us to the canyon almost as if signaling to us of what the day had in store. The guests welcomed the first sightings with awe as  EL Notcho moved slowly towards the deeper water in search of a mid-morning snack. It didn’t take long for him to introduce us to a few of the gang. It was a family affair with Cookie, Oreo, and Swirl falling into the ranks as a surge began! Something had caught their attention and they were in hot pursuit, the best part being that we were right with them. For nearly five miles we enjoyed their company as they showed us their athleticism and prowess, pushing through the waves with a whiff of morning tea on the menu. Unfortunately for them, the hunt was abandoned when whatever they’d been chasing gave them the slip. Our guests weren’t as unlucky as they enjoyed their fresh fruit skewers and savory quiches! 

 

As lunchtime rolled around we expected to see some hungry orcas cruising the canyon.  Instead, we were met with what can only be described as a meet and greet! Two pods had met about for some playful swimming and a chance to let the youngsters off the lease while the mums kicked their flippers up. Neo put on a show at the front of the boat with his best impression of free willy, while Maliko showed off his rendition of jaws! It’s amazing to watch the big bulls’ shark through the waves showing off their long pointed dorsals. After a great display from all with multiple passes by and below the boat, the family moved off into the endless abyss of the canyon. 

 

It seemed like for once the prey might have been outsmarting the predators because after only twenty minutes of orca-less waters we were greeted by a more rare inhabitant! Four beaked whales were spotted just off the bow moving with speed like grey bullets, likely wanting to get that precious air and then sink below and suspecting orcas before being noticed. It seemed to be the perfect move as we didn’t detect any surging coming towards us but instead cherished the special encounter with one of the more rare and elusive species the canyon is home to. 

 

As the day progressed we were again greeted by many familiar fins as the whales seemed to enjoy frolicking in our wake and showing off their silky skills as they passed by, but it was on our minds that all this pay was surely making them hungry. As if on cue the playful acts turned to focus as their game faces came on and the surging once again began.  Following the general direction, we were soon met by more pods surging in from both sites and heading into the deep west of the canyon. The action was truly on when we found a single older sister being forced to endure the company of the excitable young calves as the older orcas began long dives in pursuit of prey. Unfortunately for them, it seemed to be one of those days. Whilst we again enjoyed the playful jumps and splashes of the kids the parents were forced back to the surface empty-handed. It just seemed to be one of those days where you bring a story home but no catch, but man what story it was. 

 

As we began to cruise on home satisfied with the marvels the day had delivered we didn’t realise we were in for one more treat! Out of nowhere, we were greeted by a group of dark shadows moving with pace and elegance towards the bow. It didn’t take long to hear the mixed shouts of  “Pilot whales”, “no false killer whales”, “wait are those dolphins?”. Lucky for us they looked like they wanted to show off as the pilot whales and dolphins showed their true form of over a hundred strong, surging alongside us for over ten minutes. It was the perfect way to end the day as they waved goodbye and with an almost synchronised bound dived into the deep and were lost In the deep blue water. 2x1orcaKEITH9920fb 300x150 3x2orca NaniKEITH9966fb 300x200 3x2orca SplashKEITH9938fb 300x200 3x2orca SurgeKEITH9865fb 300x200 3x2orca TailKEITH9896fb 300x200 3x2orca TailKEITH9908fb 300x200 3x2orcaKEITH9888fb 300x200 3x2orcaKEITH9922fb 300x200 3x2pilot Whale TailKEITH0128fb 300x200 3x2pilot WhaleKEITH0106fb 300x200 3x2pilot WhalesKEITH0061fb 300x200 3x2pilot WhalesKEITH0075fb 300x200 5x2pilot WhaleKEITH0088fb 300x120

Still another day went by without a confirmed feeding so with the likelihood of rumbling tummies we can only wonder what tomorrow has in store!