A Truly Special Start to 2021 – 1/1/21

Happy New Year to Everybody!!!

We came with something truly special for the first day of 2021….

This year due to the low number of boats the orcas are much more relaxed and acceptable. We feel very privileged to be here and share these moments with them. I have seen things that I have not seen before.

In December when the light conditions are not so good there are only 2-3 boats are out there regularly. The animals can recognize the boats from the sound of the engine and how they look. Based on the previous years’ experience if there are too many boats in the area where they are, they tend to stay very close together and they are protective of the calves/juveniles. The females mostly stay in their close proximity. This year many times we were out and saw 3-4 calves playing together and saw no adults with them. Of course, there were females within the 500 m radius, but not with them. Like an orca kindergarten, they were playing for a while, and then everybody went home with its own mother.

Calves/juveniles in general are more curious about boats than adults are. So, we got 4 baby orcas engaging with our boat and they were playing around us for a long time.

During the day sometimes the females also approached our boat. Orcas are acoustic creatures, and all their communication is based on sounds. This day something really special happened to us…

First of all, it’s important to know that they can see and hear us from the water. Even if they are swimming below the surface (did not dive deep) they can see and hear us, therefore they can hear if we are whistling too. Of course, if there are too many boats moving in the area it’s hard, but if they approach our boat, we usually put the engine to neutral or turn it off, if the weather allows us.

I am sure that they often react to our whistles with calls or clicks or with some sort of sounds underwater, however, this we (humans) cannot hear on the surface. Here comes the magic. This female was listening to us whistling for a while now and suddenly, she swam right up to the boat and started to make sounds from her blowhole. She did it 3-4 times that day, so it was unmistakable intentional.

Now you can ask the question for yourself, why? My answer is because they are super intelligent! She understands that if she makes sounds in the water, we cannot hear her, therefore she came to the surface and made the sounds from her blowhole right next to the boat, so she made sure we can hear her!! I find this absolutely fascinating!!!

These are the moments when you make a connection with a wild animal…in this case an orca for only a few seconds…but these few seconds are an experience of a lifetime

Enjoy this 20-minute episode with us and watch all the fun moments we had with these baby orcas and the orca, who “answered” our whistles.


Thank you for the underwater sounds, Ocean Echo!


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