It was a Southern Ocean aquarium today, the only marine mammal aquariums we should have on this planet are the wild ones. Our morning started with the gentle haze of misty rain briefly surrounding us on the journey out towards The Patch and upon our arrival a distinctive blow bellowed skywards. It was an enormous male Sperm Whale who had just resurfaced after a feeding dive and was replenishing oxygen. He was peaceful and content with well over thirty exhales and inhales getting him ready for the next dive. One last exhale and he picked up pace before dipping back down into the depths below and lifting his enormous fluke high, one of the most beautiful sights in the animal kingdom. Continuing onwards we moved out to deeper water and noticed energy increasing in the area around us before the call of dorsal fins echoed out.
Pilot Whales! Almost one hundred of them heading straight our way and their curiosity was intense. Surrounding us immediately we found ourselves looking at our new best mates for the morning as they would all begin to spy hop one after the other right next to everyone. It was wonderful fun as we got to know them all and their inquisitive nature and confidence to approach us so closely was astounding. Those spy hops, pec slaps and fluke slaps were so very charming and made us giggle as they began to play and be silly, a typical family gathering of course. Cheeky and a whole lot of fun we enjoyed some time with these enthusiastic Pilot Whales before wishing them well and continuing on our search for the Orca. Arriving over twenty five miles to the west we could see the distinctive dorsal fins of our oceans apex predators, Orca!
It was very exciting as we knew that the pod we were with was not a family we often spend time with and a fantastic opportunity to collect data on this family pod we have not sighted since last season. We will continue to complete data on this pod and keep our Pod Members posted. A beautiful big male was sighted amongst the ladies with a distinctive notch on his dorsal fin and such a unique male needed a name. It is a significant time in the world and meeting this family pod during this time we draw inspiration for the name of this male Orca after the President of Ukraine, he will be named Zelensky to always remind us of the importance of fighting for and defending freedom. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with this family pod and as they continued on with their day we wished them well and made our way back up towards The Patch.
It was important today to spend time researching the movements of the Orca and returning to The Patch was going to be interesting to see who had returned back to the heart of the feeding grounds. Travelling such vast distances provides an opportunity of seeing what is happening in the area and documenting what wildlife is travelling, foraging or socialising in the region. Alki and Queen along with their pod members were back and relaxing in the afternoon conditions after what had been a big twenty four hours of travelling for the two family pods. Today was a brilliant day of sightings with three of the most incredible predators within our oceans observed in what felt like an enormous Southern Ocean aquarium. A perfect example of how these incredible creatures belong only in their wild and free environments. There is no purpose for captivity for these creatures when they have the worlds largest aquarium to revel and thrive in while raising the next generation.