Witness the hunt unfold with the Bremer Bay Orca as today we were witness to a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale hunt that ended in success for Queen and her family pod. Our morning began with soaring Shearwaters and Wandering Albatross as we arrived in The Patch and were approached by Noosa, Three Stripes and Queen. The family were excited to see us and greeted both our bow and stern before continuing with morning proceedings with a few small squid slicks scattered. The feeling a hunt was imminent lingered all morning as Noosa and members of the family were spread far and wide throughout The Patch. The seriousness and focus within Noosa’s body language had our attention and we observed her carefully throughout the morning as she diligently moved with tracking behaviour. It took a couple of hours but the Orca eventually managed to track down the Beaked Whale they had been looking for. Noosa surged and the family followed as within a few minutes the entire pod had surrounded the juvenile Cuvier Beaked Whale and limited its chance of escape.
Further pods gathered as matriarchs Kidji, Alki and Cookie guarded the outskirts of the hunt that was taking place to ensure should the Beaked Whale evade Queens pod it would run into them next. Phenomenal to witness the hunt unfold as the family worked together with precision as the tactics being used were to firstly wear down the Cuvier’s by making the individual swim whilst being completely surrounded by Orca to prevent escape. Our heart went out to this Beaked Whale who was trying hard to breach over the back of the Orca to outmanoeuvre them. Deep dives are the defence of Beaked Whales but the Orca refused to allow this individual to dive and on each attempt we could see the Orca all dive together and move underneath the Cuvier’s before lifting back up to the surface again. The controlled chase continued as we observed Noosa standing back with Queen overseeing from afar, the elders of the family had handed over the hunt to the younger females to practice. The females did not disappoint as all of Queen and Noosa’s training was put on display as the females reflected perfect hunting tactics and timing.
The hunt was nearing its end as we could see the Cuvier tiring quickly and picking up on the energy shift we could see Wonks closing in and preparing. A young male and full of strength he was ready for the call that went out quick as all pod members converged and moved on top of the Beaked Whale with Wonks leading the way. White water erupted as the Orca pushed with their flukes to drive the Beaked Whale down and it was at this point we could see the hunt was over. Blood stained white water quickly followed as the seabirds plummeted into the Southern Ocean to capture the meal they had been waiting all day for as the Orca began to feed. Orca, sharks, fish and seabirds gathered in force as nothing went to waste with Queen carefully carrying the last of the meal past our bow on full display. The only interference for the Orca was a wall of white water surging towards them as the Pilot Whales crashed the feast having been attracted to the area by all of the noisy commotion of the hunt. Witnessing these hunts is an extraordinary and educational event, but it certainly is sad to see these remarkable Beaked Whales in these situations. Our appreciation for them only grows with the effort and focus the Orca put into these hunts reflecting just how much the Orca respect them as well.