Killer Whales take down Giant Squid this morning and shortly after the successful hunt over 100 Pilot Whales surged towards them as they tried to pilfer the Orca’s meal! Our first meeting was with Cookie and Swirl her were carefully moving through The Patch in forage mode as they scanned for opportunities within reach. A cloud of birds was moving and underneath them we could see Queen, Noosa and Wonks along with others surging with pace, the hunt had begun. Arriving on scene we could see the Shearwaters plummeting into the ocean as they captured food scraps. A thin oil slick had appeared and Wonks surfaced with an enormous hunk of what appeared to be the head of the Giant Squid in his mouth. The family celebrated and began to enjoy their meal as they twisted and turned, tearing perfect sized mouthfuls apart for everyone to enjoy. During the feeding we could see the Shearwaters ducking down and following the sinking scraps for a few meters as a shark circled underneath Tarni and Stevie sharing their meal in a beautiful moment captured on the GoPro.
The meal was going along swimmingly until a sudden flurry of water began to surge towards us in a hurry, it was over 100 Pilot Whales approaching at speed! Queen gathered everyone together as Wonks protectively carried the last of the squid with him and we anticipated the Pilot’s would peel away towards The Patch but instead they came straight for Queen and her family. It was an incredible interaction as the Orca maneuvered away from the Pilot Whales who clearly outnumbered them and were pushing dominantly towards the Orca before surrounding them on all sides. A moment we would not expect, but suddenly Queen appeared to be in a bit of a tricky situation as she only had six of her pod members with her compared to the 100+ Pilot’s now surrounding us at every angle. The next move was going to be important and as Queen swam towards us she used our sound footprint to quickly move underneath us and then push wide before surging ahead. The call had gone out as more Orca family pods began to move towards Queen and soon we had 20+ Orca surging back towards the east. The Pilot Whales didn’t slow and gave one last final dominant play towards the Orca as they surged in behind them, porpoising out of the water which increased the Orca’s speed towards The Patch.
The fast sprint towards The Patch seemed to seperate the two species after an incredible observation, not a normal situation to see the Pilot Whales so fervent on following the Orca but they appeared to desperately want some of that Giant Squid and the hunting grounds he was found in earlier. Settling back into Orca mode we smiled to see new calf Charlie and her family pod moving through and looking so well, her bright orange eye patch lighting up the Southern Ocean. Cookie had now rejoined with El Notcho as the family welcomed us into their pod as they perused The Patch in search of an afternoon meal, another squid just like Queen’s family hunted would be nice for this family pod. Wishing them well for their foraging ahead we enjoyed our cruise back to Bremer Bay as the moments of the Killer Whales take down of a Giant Squid replayed in our minds.