Having patience paid off!
We were excited to get back out there after being land locked yesterday due to a cold front moving through Bremer. Although the wind had drastically dropped we knew there would still be plenty of residual slop (left over swell and sea chop) out in the canyon, perfect for the orca!
Since it was the first day of the long weekend we were FULL with excitable and ocean frothing passengers! On our way out we were heading straight into the oncoming weather which meant a few fell to the mercy of sea sickness. Sea sickness is a very real and very uncomfortable feeling out in the open ocean. The crew have seen it all before so we brought out the secret cures to help our orca-loving visitors.
On arrival to the hotspot we weren’t met by any orca…. damn! It’s okay though because we know we have a FULL day out there to see them! The anticipation by this point is at an all time high! Eyes on the water, constantly scanning, staying patient, AHA! “Orca, 11 o’clock!”.
Nibbles was front and centre, literally. The large bull cruised in across our bow and then idled in front of us leading the way forward, passengers could look straight down to see him! Nibbles is still getting bigger each day as he matures into the enormous dolphin he is due to be. The rest of the pod were nearby but our attention was all on the star, Nibbles.
Great things were yet to come
One pod soon became two, with Digby turning up with his family. We love seeing these two pods together! The three calves from both pods tend to join up and become sociable and a little bit silly. The youngsters would come surfing in towards us with Blade and Shepp testing their confidence and agility around our vessel while their mums had dived down.
We spent a lot of time watching the orca JUST below the surface!!! They were teasing us, staying close enough to the surface for us to know where they are but just deep enough that their dorsals weren’t breaking the surface. On occasion the very tip of the dorsal would break through creating the “sharking effect”. We had approximately eight orca today, Nibbles, Digby, Razor and calf Blade, Lucy Dash and calf Shepp, Slug and calf mini Dundee!
We spent all afternoon with these orca as they meandered around the hotspot and west along the 1000m contour line. Digby had his turn of close passes but not without sneaking up. It all seemed a bit quiet…too quiet in fact. So eyes went out scanning and low and behold, he was idling with us on our port stern corner! “LOOK DOWN LOOK DOWN” his cover was blown but he stayed right there, eyeballing us.
Blade had her turn sneaking up too. She copied Digby not long after but gave away her position when she blew over the passengers standing at our back railing, spooking those passengers. It can be hard not to attach a character or personality to these animals.
We called it a day after being covered in orca snot!!! With lots of sunshine we were able to capture plenty of photos of orca rainblows. Such a fun way to remember another epic day in the canyon.