Killer Whales mating meters from our bow within minutes of arriving in the Patch today as they hugged belly to belly. Our first indication something was happening appeared when Slater began to approach us and as we watched the white shadow underneath her we could make out the shadow of a large male Orca and something bright pink. Only meters from us, the male Orca then pushed up towards Slater and all happening very quickly, the mating took place. It was a surprise for everyone onboard, for many of our guests it was their very first time seeing Orca and certainly something extraordinary to witness within moments of our arrival. The courtship behaviour continued as Hookfin continued to follow Slater around all morning as they stayed close to us, curiously approaching and perhaps Slater was looking for something to distract the focused Hookfin.
The day was about to get even more exciting as a large male we have not sighted since last season arrived, Chalky was back! He has grown so much and almost a mirror image of last years mating event he didn’t seem all too pleased with Hookfin as he kept an eye on his movements. The gathering continued as Queen surfaced right on the bow with her family including a very curious Flapper and her calf Stormy. The energy turned to foraging for a little while when Queen decided it was time to move and launched into full body breaching meters from us. Incredible to witness s the powerful thud as her 6-8000 kilogram body landed gracefully on the surface before launching into the next breach. Stormy and Adina joined in with the surface activity as they pushed to the west and we were amazed at the sights we had witnessed today, a remarkable time spent with the Orca.
On a side note, it is important to learn that on the 28/2/19 last year we had an almost identical situation where Hookfin was mating with Queen as she kept his attention away from her daughter Flapper and 8-12 week old Stormy. Fast forward to today which is the 26/2/20 and we sighted the same big male Hookfin mating with Slater. Although Slater is not part of Queen’s pod, it was fascinating to observe this matriarch keeping a watch on events unfolding throughout the day. Last year during the mating event the Orca were also heading to the west, exactly the same as they did today. Research and knowledge is gained by spending much time with the Orca and allowing them to educate us on their life, a continual amazement as days like today show an extraordinary story.