The Southern Ocean is starting to roar with Winter approaching! The dark and gloomy day was accompanied by a 3.5m swell which was in full swing as we left the harbour! The high seas did not disappoint, as we spotted orca within the first 15minutes of approaching the hotspot! Mako’s pod was equal parts cruisey and curious this morning and continued to entertain us from right beneath the boat as the wind started to drop off! The behaviour and conditions made us nostalgic as they were almost duplicating the start of the season!
With the wind and swell ceasing we soon sighted another pod out in front and decided to cruise over and check them out!
We had barely left the previous pod (Mako) when Split Tip came up from the depths behind us out of nowhere! The energy of the orca shifted dramatically and in an instant! The presence of the canyon’s matriarch is a powerful force! Orca were beginning to rise at every angle and were loosely spotted across the surface! As split tip edged closer the other orca started to thrash around, tail slapping, spy hopping and more indescribable manoeuvres that we had NEVER witnessed before! Split tip launched her entire body out of the water which set off a chain reaction! A young calf began to join in, soon launching its tiny body right out of the water too as it attempted to mimic its mother! (CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS)!
Over the day we identified members from three distinguishable pods, some members included
Mako, flapper & Maddison, Slater, Wonks, Noosa, Split tip, mini Split Tip, Adina, baby Machi, Alki and Nani!
The energetic surface activity progressed into the afternoon sun! The orca continuously rode the swell at speed in toward and beneath the vessel along with repeated playful encounters! ALL of which are behaviours we cherish, especially coming to the end of the season!
It’s becoming more often than not that we sight pilot whales on our April tours! The pod was loosely packed with their growing calves intermingled between the adults! To our surprise, the orca didn’t even attempt to vacate the area as the pilot whales too cruised on past us!
Toward the end of the day, we started to notice the orca all joining back into their tight-knit family pods out in front at 10.30, 12:00 and 1:30! Some groups with over ten animals, again coming close with one juvenile, in particular, that persisted at coming in alongside us as the matriarch of the canyon split tip cruised behind it AND right beside the vessel, so close you could lean over and touch them!!! What a perfect end to an AMAZING day!