Blood Bath in the Bremer Canyon
Killer Whale Watch Western Australia as the successful hunt of a Strap-toothed Beaked Whale took place with over fifty Orca involved in the dramatic event. Arriving in The Patch we soon sighted the Orca and the energy was focused and intent as they were deep in foraging mode. Two small surges took place which further indicated that they were actively tracking something important, so we waited and watched carefully with eyes wide and scanning. A third surge began but this time it was more consistent as the Orca propelled themselves past us and that was when the ocean lit up all around as the Orca exploded into surface activity. Breaching, porpoising, tail lobbing and fluke slapping erupted as over fifty Orca joined in on the hunt. A short distance ahead a line of 20+ blows filled the air and we knew the Orca had trapped their prey close to the waters surface as others surged with speed to reach them. The hunt was now well underway as the Orca continued to converge and elder females Queen (aka Split Tip) and Noosa gathered their troops urgently to create a net of Orca as far as the eye could see and no escape path for the prey.
A flash of a distinctive beak was pushed towards the surface and this was quickly followed by a distinctive fluke, the Orca had found a Strap-toothed Beaked Whale. This hunt was different from all others we have recorded so far this season, the energy was fanatical and the Orca were hungry. After a lack of a decent meal over the last little while the urgency amongst all of them was fever pitch as they surrounded the Strap-toothed Beaked Whale. A large individual, it was difficult to watch as she struggled to manoeuvre away from the Orca and her beautiful fluke could be sighted as the Orca pushed, wrestled and pinned the Beaked Whale. The intensity just continued to grow and that was when our Marine Scientist Josh sighted the first of the blood plumes begin to explode at the waters surface. The Orca were thrashing frantically to attempt to push the Beaked Whale below the surface as the brave individual fought back above the waves. Fifteen minutes past of this intensity at the surface as the sea began to turn red, we were amazed by the amount of blood shed during this hunt. Suddenly all went quiet, the Orca had won the battle and we could observe an enormous oil slick begin to form around the red tinged ocean as birds dived to secure their part of the meal. The families quickly divided the food as their bodies became shiny from the oil slick and the eery sight of jet black dorsal fins slipped below the blood stained ocean. Hundreds of birds gathered as we could imagine the activity of sharks and fish below our feet as the Orca quickly completed their meal and began to slowly move away from the kill sight. We had just witnessed some of the most incredibly rare footage of the Bremer Canyon Killer Whales hunting and feeding in the Bremer Canyon.
The families began to celebrate as they often do after successful hunts and today was a huge celebration as all the family pods had been patiently waiting for a hunt like this for days. Breaching erupted once again as everywhere we looked surface active Orca could be sighted. The calves leapt for joy as the mature males flexed some muscle with full body breaching and dorsal fin slaps which are very unique to observe and something a bit different to the usual! The surface activity continued for the next ninety minutes providing a perfect opportunity to see every angle of the Orcas agility, speed and power. The families eventually settled as they began to regroup and heart rates relaxed after an intense morning of adrenaline. It is always with a heavy heart we observe these hunts unfold, the power of the Southern Ocean and the apex predators completely take your breath away.
The loss of a special and mysterious creature such as a Beaked Whale is never easy to observe. The more we see them, the more we appreciate them and the incredible lives they live amongst the kingdom of the Orca. Every now and again they venture too close to the hunting grounds and despite their best efforts are found by the apex predators of our oceans. Sadly for this beautiful whale today was one of those days, providing a Killer Whale Watch Western Australia experience that our Pod Members onboard will remember for the rest of their lives.