Double predation in the Bremer Canyon today as we were swept into a momentous surge as the horizon filled with white water as the Orca were successful in completing a hunt of two Beaked Whales simultaneously. It was a spectacular morning and our calmest day yet for the season as the still weather made for beautiful travelling conditions as we moved away from the coastline and made record time out to The Patch. The shelf had only just been crossed when enormous plumes of white water erupted ahead of us and stretched over a kilometre all the way out towards the horizon. It was an explosion of energy and we were swept away with the momentum as the Orca surged at a frenetic pace and with immense urgency of the likes we don’t see during all hunts. It was clear they were spread thinly and likely younger members of the family pod had found the Beaked Whales and were in desperate need of backup before the Beaked Whales could dive and evade with so few and slightly less experienced Orca in charge. The need for the elders of the family was great and we could feel that energy clearly as they exploded through the southern Ocean and charged full belt towards the others.
Matriarch Alki began to close in on the distance to our stern and the call of her younger pod members ahead before erupting right alongside us, an incredible moment to witness. It was clear that the Beaked Whale ahead of us would have little time to escape and the impact of the Orca moving in on that location was immense as Alki arrived on scene. The hunt was completed quickly as the Beaked Whale was lifted and we could see that they had very quickly skinned from the mid section towards the head which is a process often observed from the Bremer Bay Orca within the final moments of the hunt finishing. Further pod members arrived as the oil slick grew and dozens of Shearwaters began to dive after the many small scraps they could find before they disappeared into the depths below. Feeding ensued as the family pods began to share the meal amongst each other and there was great celebration especially from little Helen who was most excited over her families success as she launched into a celebratory breach.
During the commotion of the hunt we had noticed that some of the individuals moving up on our stern had peeled slightly further to the south and on further investigation we could see that we had a double predation in the Bremer Canyon. The two large slicks and heavy blood in the water were clear indicators the Orca had achieved a very successful morning, but a very sad morning for the Beaked Whales who often travel in small pods. The beak of one was being carried by Cooee and her family while Nani and his family had the responsibility of carrying the second beak and as you will see in the images the thin beak or upper and lower jaw of the Beaked Whale has been splintered during the process of these young male Orca carrying. A day of mixed emotions for the poor Beaked Whales who were unable to evade the Orca and their incredible speed today while we were also grateful for the opportunity to witness a rarely observed double predation and extraordinary surge. The rest of the morning unfolded with plenty of feeding before settling in for an afternoon of rest as we wished them well and enjoyed some time with new Australia Sea Lion pup Alby and the gorgeous little fairy Penguins hiding in their favourite spot on this warm summers day.