Killer Whale hunt Strap-toothed Beaked Whale today during a spectacular chase before Hermes and her family pod were successful in completing a remarkable hunt in the waters of the Bremer Canyon. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies and a calm sea escorting us out to the sighting grounds. A few moments after arriving in The Patch blows were sighted just ahead as we were approached by two pods, Hermes and Cookie. It was wonderful to see both families socialising and interacting together as they came over to say good morning and have some fun. Eventually it was time to rest for a little while before the afternoon begun the steady search for their next meal. Earlier on in the morning we observed the elder members of the family pod moving wider in search of food while the youngsters rested before joining them and after a while of searching all their hard worked resulted in a find.
The call went out and the Orca propelled themselves forwards as a surge erupted and we had Orca surfing alongside us on the urgent journey back towards the core family pod. Arriving on scene we could quickly see that they had found a Strap-toothed Beaked Whale who was in a very difficult position to escape from as the Orca now moved as one. Allowing her to dive would be the biggest risk so the family carefully manoeuvred to prevent that option of escape. The elders of the family remained by the Strap-toothed Beaked Whales side as the rest followed patiently behind waiting for the call in as they managed the hunt. It was incredible to watch and as much as we hoped for a Beaked Whale escape in these situations it is near impossible due to the teamwork and coordination of the Orca.
Bleeding heavily the call was made to end the hunt as the females surged forward and lifted the Beaked Whale high before the impact sent them all crashing back down. It was over within moments and an enormous plume of oil soon settled on the oceans surface as the Orca moved quickly to secure their meal. Through the silky sea we could watch as they began to divide the meal up amongst pod members and share but what was most impacting at this moment was Hermes. Resting quietly at the surface she was motionless, breathing heavily and holding a large chunk of skin and blubber between her teeth. She appeared exhausted and stayed this way for a good five minutes as she took her time to recover after the hunt. It certainly hits home in these moments just how much effort both mentally and physically go into these hunts which can be extremely draining for the elders of the family pod.
Cheeky young male BB swam past Hermes at this point and noticed a chunk of food floating at the surface and didn’t want it left behind for the sharks or birds. Carefully grabbing it he then decided to enjoy this morsel right next to us as we could see in the GoPro footage him moving the chunk a few times to break it down a bit before swallowing. Incredible to witness and observe how the Orca of Bremer Bay handle these smaller sized morsels of food without needing assistance from the rest of the family pod to break them down into even smaller pieces. It was a phenomenal ending to another remarkable day with the Orca as they continue to display why they are the apex predators of our ocean.