Orca play with Sunfish today as the youngest family members of the pod found a juvenile Sunfish and began to practice hunting tactics. Orca surfaced just ahead of us shortly after our arrival and we were soon completely surrounded by the family as they swam towards us excitedly, they were in a very playful mood. Surrounding us and swimming up to the bow, Madison sat calmly alongside us for a few minutes staring back at everyone onboard before flipping upside down and lifting her fluke only centimetres from our hull. The morning continued to amaze as the family pod regrouped and Madison found a juvenile Sunfish who had just finished eating a Portuguese Man o’ War when the Orca began to approached and surround him. It was incredible to watch as the Orca played with the Sunfish, pushing him above the waters surface which showed off his beautiful spotted pattern.
Concerned for our fishy friend, we could only take comfort in knowing that he was not part of this Orca’s family diet so was not on the menu, but would that stop the calves from biting a bit too hard? They began to push him closer to us and within sight of the boat, little Sunfish tried to swim towards us for a distraction but each time the Orca pushed him back. All unfolding within meters of us, we watched carefully and noticed how gentle the calves were being and even with all the pushing and shoving the Sunfish did not have a single scratch. The Sunfish may have been small, but he was feisty and would turn to face the Orca every time they approached and duck his backside towards them, protecting his face from the Orca teeth. He needn’t worry though, as after a while the calves gently left him to swim off as they regrouped with the rest of their family and he could count himself as one very lucky Sunfish!
The afternoon continued to unfold into an amazing day as the Orca began to breach, tail lob, fluke slap and surge to the west as five different families moved as one with high intensity. Orca were everywhere we looked and it was extraordinary to watch them launch into full bodied breaches from only a few meters away and all the way out towards the horizon. A big male we know well as El Notcho began to bow ride with us and others of his family pod joined in on the fun as they used our vessel to break the tension and swim in the slipstream created by our vessel. A truly special day that was filled with incredible sights and the feisty resilience of a little Sunfish.