Bremer Bay Orca hunt Minke Whale for the first time ever recorded in the Bremer Bay Orca population. Our morning began shortly after arriving in The Patch with Cheryl and her family pod as they calmly surfaced and moved towards us with a friendly greeting. Razor and her calf Eddie surfed with the swell and spiralled underneath our bow before moving in on our stern. The day ahead was set as the family moved out towards the east and were happily cruising with us as they focused in on foraging and began the search for their next meal opportunity.
A large, floating pile of rope was sighted and hauled onboard to avoid becoming a danger to vessels and wildlife moving through the area. Cheryl continued east bound but as most of the pod moved forward into the 2,000 meter depth range a sudden ripple of energy rocketed through everyone. Spinning on their flukes, they surged back towards a female pod member who had found what they were looking for but something we were not expecting, a juvenile Minke Whale!
The hunt was now underway and it was difficult to watch as the Minke tried to breach over the back of each Orca as they approached in a desperate attempt to escape. The Minke was incredibly resilient and determined as the next tactic was to swim as quickly as possible with the entire Orca pod closely following in from behind. Cheryl held her ground right alongside the Minke and the pace was set for the next thirty minutes they travelled this way, interchanging occasionally for some of the other females and big male B-Slice to bring new energy to the hunt as others tired.
The rest of the family was joyfully breaching, fluke slapping, head lunging and porpoising throughout the chase creating for spectacular moments to observe these apex predators in their prime. The beautiful Minke Whale was now starting to tire and we hoped for an opportunity of escape for this young one, but at the same time knew that our Orca family had worked so hard for this meal and needed a reward for all of their efforts and energy used.
Thankfully the Orca finished the hunt quickly once the Minke slowed down as B-Slice moved in and prevented the Minke from resurfacing again. Drowning is a very quick way to finish the hunt and least painful for the individual as the Orca show empathy towards the situation. Watching on in amazement as a huge bubble veil erupted next to us and B-Slice lifted the body towards the surface, already the skin had been striped in a matter of minutes in preparation of the meal ahead. The family fed for the next hour as we were welcomed into the pod and food was shared with only the best parts of the meal being enjoyed. A large section of intestines floated on the surface, discarded by the Orca but a prized meal for the seabirds and scavenging sharks.
It was a privilege to witness the first ever Bremer Bay Orca hunt Minke Whale today and watch the entire event unfold from foraging to the intensity of the hunt and jubilation of the celebration and feeding that unfolded. A sad day for such a beautiful Minke Whale, they are precious creatures and we can take comfort in knowing that nothing went to waste as not only the Orca but many birds, sharks and fish all benefited from the success of this hunt. Our incredible day was completed with glasses of champagne enjoyed in the company of Pilot Whales who greeted us on our return journey home. Bremer Bay is truely one of the most extraordinary places in the world to spend time observing wonders of the wild in the presence of our oceans apex predators.