Why Don’t Orca Have Barnacles?

Why Don’t Orca Have Barnacles? Whale Watch Western Australia

Why don’t Orca have barnacles? It was a great question asked today by one of our Pod Members onboard as we observed the speed of the Orca as they surged through The Patch. Orca don’t have barnacles due to their ability to shed the epidermal layer of their skin everyday. The process enables them to ensure they remain sleek and maintain their brilliant hydrodynamics which were on spectacular display today as Cookie and her family pod surged together. Barnacles also require a favourite food source of zooplankton and phytoplankton which although there is abundance of this throughout the waters the Orca live in it is not of the same intensity that is found in baleen whale hunting grounds. Species such as Humpback Whales are a favourite host for the barnacles as they are slow moving, slow epidermal turnover and feed in areas teeming with a barnacles favourite food source. Good news for the Orca then as those pesky barnacles would only slow them down!

Arriving in The Patch this morning we were immediately surrounded by a very large oil slick with approximately 100 Shearwaters, Albatross and Storm Petrels working the surface and actively diving. A significant hunt had recently taken place with the slick not very old and specs of flesh still floating close enough to the surface for the seabirds to notice and attempt collecting with their dives. The heavy scent of Beaked Whale was evident and the Orca appeared to have had success but now it was time to see where they had travelled to after their kill. Scanning east and west we could see the birds starting to spread out before the energy increased during our southern search as Cookie and her family surfaced together. Shortly afterwards they surged with momentum all the way towards the shelf and into shallower water before moving back out into The Patch. Cooee, Echo, Rosemary and Poppy were also travelling with them today as they all covered ground efficiently and it always amazes us to see how well the little calves keep up with their family pod. Another lovely day with the Bremer Bay Orca as we wished them well for their foraging in the afternoon ahead and enjoyed a great trip back to the Bremer Bay Boat Harbour.

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