The last day of October whale watching ended in a spectacular display of white water, flukes and energy filling the ocean with electricity as yet another competition pod formed just off the coast of Perth. Our morning began with mothers and calves enjoying the nursery grounds with plenty of feeding and resting amongst the pods. One female was playing gently with her calf and as both rolled upside down we could site mums badly damaged fluke showing us that she is the survivor of an Orca attack. The distinctive rounded fluke edges and rake marks could be easily sighted but thankfully everywhere else looked perfectly fine with no severe injuries from this females previous encounter.
Tall exhalations erupted on the horizon amongst the occasional breach and as we closed in on the distance we could see the reason behind all of this active breathing… a competition pod had formed. Our fifth official competition pod for the southern migration was intense and exciting as ten males took off after a female travelling at 16+ kilometres per hour. A nearby mother and calf had attracted the attention of two enormous males including one with a large white belly (who seemed awfully familiar and we believe we have met him before) as they followed after her. At first concerned, we all relaxed as this very mature female took control of the pod and showed her many years of experience by leading her calf away into a quieter area and allowing the two males to follow and escort the pair.. politely of course and on their best behaviour!
The competition pod had really started to increase in energy as the males become more and more fervent on getting to the front of the line and closer to the female. Diving down to 25 meters for 5-7 minutes before charging back to the surface again for oxygen caused some of the males to drop behind and the fitter males to take their place. One male was sent flying as a competitor below surged towards his belly and his rostrum awkwardly stuck above the surface, that must have hurt! Eventually we had to depart and just before we did an unusual sight as one of the males attempted to go belly to belly with the female in an apparent mating attempt… we may never know for sure if it was successful or not but the energy of the pod dispersed momentarily before they were off and racing again as we celebrated October whale watching at its most intense.