THE DEGUSTATION: aka “The Huntress and the savage sausages” tour!!!
In summary, today is hard to put into words, well in a way that truly depicts not only each encounter but the coinciding emotions that built as everything unveiled before our eyes. Our firth season in the Canyon and today easily trumped anything we had witnessed prior! To highlight the greatest moments I have broken down the day to resemble a degustation! With every event building towards the last course…dessert, which always ends with a BANG!!! So here we go…
Course 1: THE PURSUIT
It was a long morning as we scanned the surface for a for a glance of black or white amongst the shimmering swell risen blue dessert! With every passing hour the energy slumped throughout the boat. We were lucky to come across a cheeky New Zealand fur seal basking in the sun whilst giving us a quick wave at us as we cruised passed him, which broke up the never ending blue for a few moments! It was after lunch when our gun deckie billy screamed from the roof….FIN! There was doubt in his voice, but we didn’t question his abilities for one second! Everyone rose from their seats, was it? Is it? IT WAS…..ORCA!!!!!!!!!!
Course 2: THE TAKE DOWN (BEAKED WHALE)With two pods in sight we all sighed with relief! In an instant Maleko’s pod changed direction and started to pick up pace! The pod in the distance began to surge, lunging with every beat of the tail, and just like that it was on! The customers were adamant to withstand the sea and spray that splashed over the bow as we attempted to keep up with the group of determined orca! As the vessel lifted over each swell crest we sighted more and more surging fins! After five minutes of high speed pursuit we witnessed the ultimate event, the moment we had been waiting for…THE KILL! The plume of white water quickly turned red as blood, meat and oil grew amongst the thrashing orca! What had they taken down?!
Course 3: SHARING PIECES Over 50 orca from at least four pods were in close vicinity to the vessel. Split tip as always being the dominant “huntress”, front and centre amongst the kill! She had a large piece of meat in her mouth which she proceeded to share with the rest of her pod just beneath the surface and VERY close to the vessel! As the orca trailed behind split tip toward the bow a mother and calf decided to sneak away from the pod with their own large chunk, bringing it to the stern of our boat. As the mum shared the meat with her young we got a close glance! By now the smell of mammal surrounded us, as the orca turned on its side the WHOLE BEAK of a beaked whale broke the surface, still intact within the mothers tight grip! The customers and crew were equal parts dumbfounded and overwhelmed! The whole event that has just unravelled in front of our eyes was truly a once in a lifetime experience!
Course 4: SHOWING OFF The orca were showing off now that they had full bellies. Energetic activity broke the surface, tail slaps, porpoising, head lunges, you name it and in EVERY direction. The sound of blows at the surface also coming from every which way! We were completely surrounded by orca! At least three dominant bulls, multiple calves and everything in between made up the masses of black and white! As the orca started to dissipate back into their own tight groupings we noticed surging AGAIN, this time far in the distance!!
Course 5: PILOT WHALES As we steamed toward the white water it became clearer! Savage sausages surged through the swell towards us in the MASSES! Long-finned pilot whales encroached the vessel like a battalion in an army! The first pulse of over 100 individuals was shortly followed by two more pulses! The pilot whales punched out of each wave like fire crackers, making the biggest splashes, you couldn’t miss it!! The customers could only laugh at the sight, such a funny looking little animal, especially the tiny calves which almost look faceless! We couldn’t believe it, they were still coming, by now from EVERY angle!!!
Course 6: OIL SLICKS and CLOSE PASSES The pilot whales almost forced the orca out of the area towards the edges of the remaining oil slick, which by now was covering almost all of the surface, as far as the eye could see! At a closer glance the orca were still at our 12, 1, 3, 5 and 7 O’clock in the distance with pilot whales everywhere in between! As we ventured back towards a pod we were happily greeted! Juveniles darted back and forth up the port and starboard sides of the vessel, so close they were almost touching the hull! The activity kept us entertained for over 30 minutes, even the poor seasick people at the bow!!! The orca all followed split tip away from the vessel in a hurry! By now we were more than satisfied with the day’s festivities…but wait there’s MORE!!!
Course 7: BREACHING GOODBYE We lost the last flashes of white as the orca dove down at high speed!! Only to witness the pod at our port side BREACH right out of the water, all following one after the other!! The sound of each orca making contact with the surface was phenomena!!! BOOMFFFFFF!!!!! We were being waved off by breaching orca In every direction, just like a chain reaction!!! Pod after pod, they all had a turn!!! I think the orca were just as excited with today’s events as we all were!!Today will go down in history!