Cetacean Extravaganza

Cetacean extravaganza it was today as Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales and Orca gathered in The Patch for a brilliant spectacle of top predators and high energy. The easterly breeze is back and with a light ruffling of wind we made our way out to the sighting grounds with a cloud of blows sighted on our arrival. The entire area from east to west welcomed a pod of over one hundred Sperm Whales as we were excited to see females and calves travelling amongst the large pod. It was wonderful to see two extremely young calves amongst the seperate pods, so new and small with barely a wrinkle. The females were social and mingling but there was a sudden change of their behaviour as a wall of white water came charging towards them, Pilot Whales! Numbering between sixty to eighty individuals they were full of beans as they raced towards the Sperm Whales and came within only a few meters. The young calves were quickly surrounded by the adults in the family as the little ones were tucked in safely amongst the protective pod. 

The Pilot Whales began to move away and once they dispersed the Sperm Whales settled into social interactions once again. The energy was high as everywhere we looked blows could be observed and amongst the Sperm Whales and Pilot Whales there was a feeling one other predator was very close indeed. Searching carefully we began to move towards blows a few hundred meters ahead of us when another pod of Sperm Whales including a young calf surfaced right on our starboard side. It was a relaxed interaction to begin with as they mingled just off our bow but was about to change very quickly. A flash of black and white across the bow was followed by a big commotion on our stern as Orca charged towards the Sperm Whales. Flukes went flying as the Sperm Whales rolled and quickly surrounded their youngest calves as the distinctive Orca dorsal fin flashed amongst them. The Orca of Bremer have been observed attempting to pilfer squid from the Sperm Whales previously and have also attempted a few approaches towards young calves indicating they may be interested in them as prey.

Thankfully the females were on it straight away and surrounded the calf with a wall of blubber, strength and teeth. The little one was safe and sound amongst her pod and the scouting Orca were smart enough to know it was best to look for another option today as they whizzed to the west. Surfing the swell and enjoying some bow and wake riding we journeyed with them for just over twelve mile as they moved well outside The Patch. It was worth the big swim as a large oil slick was quickly followed by two others as the Orca secured a descent meal with the scent and appearance of the slick indicating a squid kill. The afternoon was set for a nice feast until a wall of white water began to approach the Orca at high speeds, the Pilot Whales were back again! It is not unusual for the Pilot Whales to arrive after a successful Orca hunt as they are attracted to the area by the commotion of the Orca. The leftovers were carried as the Orca regrouped and moved off quickly to avoid the pesky Pilots who had now moved in within only a few meters. It was an extraordinary cetacean extravaganza for our Pod Members onboard and wonderful to observe the unique interactions between the different species.

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