Sperm Whale rescue unfolded in incredible circumstances today as Orca surrounded a male Sperm Whale and pushed him along at the surface as he raced towards us for protection. Today was incredible as within moments of arriving in The Patch the high energy began as members from five different family pods were observed all socialising and travelling together. The calves were having an absolutely fantastic time as they raced with the swell, chased after each other and practiced surface activity. Fun times unfolded all morning long as the youngsters played and included us in the fun as we appeared to be on “babysitting” duties. Pushing each other towards the bow repeatedly, they then proceeded to swim underneath us and towards our water level viewing platforms as we connected with eye to eye moments with these precious calves. It was simply beautiful to be this close to wild Orca and they appeared to be enjoying themselves almost as much as we were. The surge was on as the adults called out and we were westbound with energy, surging all around and bow/wake riding with us as they went.
A commotion 100 meters ahead unfolded as white water bubbled and a large, grey object was being pushed along at the surface… it was a Sperm Whale! A young bull had terrible timing to be surfacing as the wall of Orca heading west surrounded him and began to push, trying to forcefully encourage him to drop or regurgitate any squid he had. The desperate male was looking for an exit, anything to get him away from the Orca who surrounded him as he began to swim directly towards us. We held our breath as this 14+ meter giant swam straight at our bow and when he reached only 10 meters away he moved along our port side with his mouth wide open. Trying to make himself look as big and scary as possible, he was that close to us the Orca weren’t able to approach him and he dived directly underneath our stern. Our hearts were racing as the adrenaline surged through us, the Sperm Whale must have been feeling exactly the same way! A smart escape from the worlds largest toothed predator as the apex predators continued to the west.
Playtime was still being enjoyed by young calf Stevie as she practiced her breaching and tail lobbing over and over again. The family moved together and were starting to unwind slowly when up ahead there was yet another commotion… Pilot Whales were porpoising towards us! Fifty plus individuals were in a hurry and were porpoising directly at the Orca, only changing course at the last moment. Getting ready for their next foraging dive we watched as the family pod moved towards us and began to round out and dive when the last pod member surfaced, it was a NZ Fur Seal! A moment that had us all laughing as this little one joined in with the hunting, foraging and socialising as if he was just another Pilot Whale. It was incredible to watch how the Pilot’s welcomed him and acted as if he was just another one of the pod, but it still made us giggle every time he surfaced with those beautiful big eyes and mimicking every move of the Pilot’s. A truely incredible day as we were involved in an exhilarating Sperm Whale rescue and were in awe of todays activities and rare interactions between species, our hearts are still racing!