Orca childhood friends start from an early age as calves grow up in a neighbourhood filled with other Orca calves and build friendships that last a lifetime. It was a beautiful day with the wind from yesterday now past and a bright blue sky starting to works its way past the clouds. It was a great journey out to The Patch and on our arrival we could see multiple Shearwaters and Wilson Storm Petrels working the waters in search of breakfast. Scanning through the area it seemed peaceful as we began to search and cover ground with the winds easing even further much to the dismay of the seabirds! The birds needn’t worry though as the Orca were never too far away as we approached Queen and her family who raced towards us for morning greetings. Queen surfaced with a large hunk of squid like meat as the calves surrounded her to feast on morning tea. It is never overly surprising to see Queen and her family carrying food, they are sensational hunters and we are always amazed with their consistency in securing their meals regularly.
The feeding continued as the family stretched out and we could see that B-Slice and younger members of his pod had also joined in for a friendly neighbourhood catchup. The calves now had full bellies and it was time for play as they began to group together and wrestle all the way into the afternoon. Stormy, Samurai, Opal, Eddie, Stevie, Dart, Dash and Bubbles launched into play as they would wrestle each other at the surface before crashing back down. Three Stripes also joined in on the fun as she taught the calves different manoeuvres that will come in handy during their next hunt. Cheeky teeth and pink tongues would flash past as they surfaced with the very tactile and sensitive side of these young apex predators on show. These calves are still just babies and over the coming years these young friendships will blossom into lifelong connections that will be meaningful in not only social situations but hunts of larger prey when support is needed. Orca childhood friends are just as important in Orca society as they are in human society and today was a most perfect example of the “kids” playing in the street with their neighbours as the adult Orca enjoyed a peaceful afternoon watching on from afar.