Koomba and El Notcho were the main bulls today, with their pods combined we were in the presence of over 20 orcas within a mile radius throughout the day! The orca led us in circles around the hotspot, barely nudging the border before taking us back through the mid-section, at the 1000m contour line. With the years progressing and the season nearing the end, we have started to denote particular waypoints that the orca are beginning to use more frequently. However today they stuck to what they know and trust their “home base”. We had sporadic sightings of other pods in the distance, never venturing close enough to accurately identify and too far to risk approaching and leaving our more reliable pods! The research vessels time in the canyon is also coming to an end for the season, so they were making the most of the calmer weather! CETREC, Project ORCA and Killer Whales Australia have been out here as part of their annual field season, focusing on deploying tags, developing their photo-identification and retrieving biopsies over the past few weeks! These methods are crucial for obtaining broad information that would otherwise be incredibly difficult to attain among such transient cetaceans. This invaluable data is fundamental for the conservation and management of the species in the Bremer sub-basin, and when combined with the extensive data and observations collected by ecotourism vessels, can generate outcomes beneficial for not only the orca but the entirety of the unique and diverse ecosystem in which they inhabit. It is pleasing to see ecotourism and science working together to create outcomes that both protect and enable the natural viewing of such an incredible species! The afternoon provided close interactions with our predominant pod, with El Notcho approaching the vessel as close as ever, while he eyeballed our customers on the bow!! Moments like this are special and becoming more frequent, providing memories for both the crew and customers that will NEVER be forgotten.
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