16th of March 2020 update on our orca adventure in western australia.
The originals were back in their home range again today! Commanding our attention from the bow, wheel house and back deck. Cookie, El Notcho, Swirl and the youngster Oreo with another two orca were travelling west but certainly were not in a hurry. With almost perfectly timed three minute dives there was enough time to make a cuppa in between each sighting.
Each time the orca surfaced they were on our port side so we held our position steady watching these apex predators calmly travel through the area. Even though they were moving slowly their muscles would ripple as the whales would ‘whoosh’ with every breath. This onomatopoeia can send shivers down your spine, as the whale exhales almost 90% of its lung capacity in a matter of milliseconds! The ‘WHOOSH’ is also a stark reminder that yes, the Killer Whale just surfaced metres from the vessel!
These animals are incredibly intelligent having the largest brain of all the dolphins, averaging 5 and a half kilos!!! We can’t understand their language yet but one thing our experience has taught us is how to read their body language. We can certainly take a hint when the orca are uninterested in us and this means it’s time to move on and continue on our day’s expedition! It is a big ocean out there and knowing that just last week we were inundated with over 50 orca on a single day we thought we’d try our luck searching!
No more orca were sighted but we did find a diverse range of birds! Multiple Wandering Albatross glided effortlessly in the breeze while a Campbells Albatross failed at a landing attempt and crashed into the swell! It quickly shook the water off its head and starting preening itself as if nothing had happened. We then spied a Sooty Shearwater! Another visitor we don’t see too often! The Sooty was looking worse for wear with ‘scraggly’ primary feathers but it will be going through a moult very soon (Primary moult May to July). After this moult it will make the cross equator migration to spend the non-breeding months in Alaska and Japan!!
We went back to see what El Notcho’s pod were up to, hoping that the afternoon may have brought on some active hunting behaviour! There was certainly a shift in their energy but no crumbs (evidence of a kill) brought to the surface! These Orca are considered to be in excellent health condition with considerate size to their body’s fat deposits.
With a final wave goodbye we thanked the whales for another epic day and made the hour or so long journey home! A quick stop to Glasse Island showed two large Australian Sea Lion males, multiple Cows (females) and two young pups. These also appeared to be in excellent health with copious amounts of food available. In last few days we have been seeing the start of the Salmon run through Bremer which means even more food and happy animals!
Watch out for our augusta whale watching updates soon!