Killer Whale Season in Bremer Bay is a wonderful time of the year to observe our oceans apex predator and today we had the opportunity to spend special time with one of the local family pods. Calm winds and an overcast sky escorted us towards the sightings grounds as we began our search for the Orca. The change of the Killer Whale season from the peak of the summer into Autumn is always an interesting time as the Orca begin to change their hunting patterns and menu. Orca families have a specific diet and will target particular food items at certain times of the year which will change with the seasons. The early start to the northern migration for baleen whales means that sightings of Minke, Humpback and Blue Whales will begin earlier this season.
The day was firstly started with social behaviour as the calves approached and interacted with us curiously before the adults quickly surged, launching forwards with effort and intensity. The family regrouped and began to settle into foraging mode with the calves now swimming alongside their mums and ready for todays lesson on foraging. Stealth is vitally important as the Killer Whale season changes and baleen whales become a more regular appearance through the area. Our heart rate increased dramatically as shorty after one of the Orcas last surfacing’s we noticed to our starboard side and a fair distance away a tall blow. The blow belonged to that of a Blue Whale and this individual was in range of the Orca and seemed fully aware of the dangerous situation. Surfacing only three times before powering away from the area we watched on to observe if the Orca noticed the Blue Whale. Thankfully for this clever Blue, by keeping a very low profile and moving quickly through the area the individual was able to safely move away from the Orca.
It was valuable to observe that even within close range if a Blue Whale keeps a similar stealth like profile when moving through Orca territory they do have a possibility of safely moving through without being noticed. Foraging continued for a little while before the family decided it was rest time and began to sleep around us. Today was a great example of the change of season and we are now counting down the days until our first Perth Canyon Blue Whale tour departing from Fremantle later in April. It will be a wonderful time to spend with the Blues and watch as they feast on krill peacefully many hundreds of kilometres away from the Bremer Bay Orca hunting grounds, but first they must safely move through without being detected.