The weather was once again contrasted to the day prior. With winds dropping down to 9 knots from the North it was looking like a glorious sea day.
The blue whale predation from the day before was still at the forefront of our minds, we were bustling with interviews with radio and TV personnel, all while still trying to grapple being witness to one of the greatest natural phenomena.
A boiling affect on the waters surface caught our eye mid-way to the continental shelf. It was a HUGE pod of bottlenose dolphins! They were flipping, and porpoising and surging. A small swirl of shearwaters and gannets moved above as the dolphins gleefully paraded and burst like fireworks out of the water. An unexpected but welcomed encounter! This resulted in high anticipation and excitement for the rest of the day.
We couldn’t help ourselves but to go have a lookie at where the blue was last sighted. Its last moments – a tremor through its tail as orca surrounded and submerged the giant blue mass. On arrival we were intrigued. There was NO oil… a shock as historically the blue whale carcasses had emanated oil for weeks if not months after. Maybe the body had already rolled into much deeper water or was moved by the orca throughout the evening and night.
A large whale fall (dead whale body) is extremely beneficial to the surrounding area. It not only provides essential nutrients back into the soils and sinks carbon but it can provide a variety of interchangeable ecosystems up to two years after the animals death.
A suspenseful morning of wondering what happens next was broken by a lone New Zealand Fur Seal! A big sneeze and lots of cleaning its body entertained us for a short while. It wasn’t long before we sighted a loooong tall blow which hung in the air. It was a big exhale from orca. PHEW! They hadn’t moved too far off the kill sight but they were definitely enjoying a post-feed siesta (sleep).
Our regular orca viewing was interrupted but the distinct angular bushy blow of a SPERM WHALE! The long bull (adult male) was rebreathing at the surface and wasn’t deterred by our sudden presence. Sperm Whales will forever by one of the most mysterious whales for me. A single row of teeth on their lower jaw and spermaceti filled cavity in their head. Their wrinkled body and triangular shaped dorsal fin. Also, the bravado it must take to wrangle a giant squid for food under the pressure of thousands of meters of water!! He was on full show and we lapped it up. After ten minutes of watching this beast his back arched, tail rose skyward, passengers gasped and he was gone. Deep. Down to an unknown world.
Back to the orca, they were still on the same trajectory but by now it was the afternoon and they were slightly more adventurous. Banjo, a large male, and the rest of his pod were moving in sync. Except two pod members weren’t playing by the rules. They had positioned themselves away from the pod and on our stern. On their approach we could identify them as a cow and calf pair! The calf was playful and with mum came in for a closer inspection. This close interaction rounded out our day of terrific toothed whale encounters.