The history of the Bremer Orca traces them back through the region and history books for many years. Tragically back in 1979, 13 Killer Whales beached themselves just east of Bremer Bay at a place called Trigalow Beach where it is also recorded that large pods of Pilot Whales and Sperm Whales have also beached previously. We do know from our own magnetic compass departing from Bremer Bay each day that there is an abnormality close to shore. Similar to the Pilot Whales in the vicinity of the coast in Hamelin Bay possibly chasing the salmon, are our Orca’s pursuing the Southern Right calves and getting disorientated this close to shore? Tracing back the history of the Bremer Bay Orca and learning from previous sightings and events may assist in better understanding the movements of the Orca population that feed, live and raise their young here.
There are many different reasons why cetaceans strand and you can learn more about these reasons in our Why Do Whales Become Stranded research page. Any one of these reasons could have resulted in this tragic stranding back in August 1979, but there are two questions that are very important. Why did the entire family pod strand and what were they doing so close to Trigalow (east of Bremer Bay) during the month of August? We know that during these winter months there is an increase of Southern Right Whale births as the mothers come close to the shoreline to give birth to their calves. During winter/spring there is an abundant food source available with both Southern Right Whale and Humpback Whale calves making their migration south.
Knowing that certain families within the Bremer Canyon Orca population do successfully hunt other whales we must take into account what possible link could be in place with Orca finding themselves close to the calving grounds of the Southern Right Whales during the peak of their calving season. We hope to never see a repeat of this tragic day all the way back in 1979 and we wonder if there are any possible survivors of this family who now (or their offspring) still swim in the Bremer Canyon 41 years later. We have a great responsibility to learn more about the whales and dolphins who call our coastline home and better understand them and the decisions they make. Although heartbreaking, these important Orca may help the story of the Western Australia Orca unfold and know that they have not been forgotten and will always be treasured.