Moments before reaching the hotpot El Notcho and Cookies pod surfaced in a perfect formation, cruising right toward us! The speed and mentality of the pod suggested they were just headed over to greet us. As the pod edged closer (still quite slowly), we noticed a smaller, lighter outline immersed between the black and white bodies! A greys beaked whale rose to the surface, tightly lodged between two adolescent orca! The three swam closely together, still ever so slowly, almost as if they were all friends!
The calmness was striking, the orca were almost playing with the sub-adult beaked whale! A similar predation occurred last season and with the help of the drone, we uncovered the scenario to be almost a training drill. The young orca all working together at the front of the pack, pushing the beaked whale down repeatedly to wear it out. Kilamna, oreo, Spock and two other juveniles were leading the kill, Cookie and El Notcho were never far behind. All of a sudden the beaked whale dived and made a run for it! The entire pod took one breath before plummeting down toward it. We had lost sight, only witnessing flashes of white deep into the water column.
The suspense was killing us! Birds began to squawk, popping their heads below the surface to look for the pod. Moments later the juveniles broke the surface as if they were puffed! Soon after the entire pod was at the bow, no beaked whale to be seen! The orca still seemed oddly relaxed! The poor beaked gasped for air out in front, still trying to escape the inevitable DOOM that awaited.
The orcas’ energy rose instantly, porpoising through the water for only seconds before making contact with the beaked whale! The whale flew through the air as the adults rammed into it and drove it down deep. Blood, guts, oil, you name it, it was spread across the surface! Once the orca tore the carcass apart and shared it among the pod we noticed more surging behind us. Urkel and Noosa appeared in an instant and headed straight for El Notcho who had the carcass clenched in his jaw. Urkel and El Notcho dived deep, white water and bubbles blocked us from encountering the action. The thrashing didn’t last long and the two pods split back up. Sharing is caring after all!
For the rest of the day, we witnessed close encounters and cruising orca! Indeed, it was a great day for our Orca Whale Watching Tours!!