All Day Breakfast Buffet – 7/2/24

Todays tour got underway right from the get-go upon arriving at the hotspot. Members of Split Tips pod including Split Tip herself made themselves known with surges through a large oil slick, looking like it once belonged to a beaked whale.

No meat was spotted, however this proved to become the first of the many predation events to be seen for today. Juveniles from her impressive pod of over 20 members frolicked in the sun with spyhops, tail slaps, breaches and close passes by the back of the boat – creating a picture-perfect introduction for the rest of the day.

From there, more smaller slicks started to pop up behind us as these orcas continued to feed, Sudden surges from an estimate of 30 orca surrounded the entire front 180 degrees worth of the Alison Maree as they steamed ahead for their next course of their buffet. Again, no meat or blood was seen besides another large oil slick slowly dispersing over the surface with Fue’s pod enjoying their meals.

SO much action was occurring at once, with a vast collection of marine animals coming in for their bite. Several Bronze Whalers, massive swirls of shearwaters diving for scraps and the arrival of a large pod of Pilot whales, exceeding into the 100’s with a handful of calves, were all present and making their mark in the food chain, gaining what they could from this event. We then noticed alarming surface activity resembling a surface predation another 500 metres ahead with Split Tips pod successfully predating on another prey item, making it their second for the day we had witnessed!

A fresh plume of blood rose to the surface as orcas thrashed around, with the pod of pilot whales moving through the madness.

An unlucky Grays beaked whale was the one who lost its battle to the apex predators today, but the question arose – Why were non mammal eating pilot whales hanging around the orca in the middle of a mammalian blood bath?

The rest of the afternoon consisted of the pilot whales surfing through the swells on our port side with an array of orca including members of Split Tips, Moon’s, Chalky’s and Nani’s pod playing with one another on the starboard side.

Even when we thought we had seen it all after today’s engagements, Nani after a belly full decided it was time to get frisky with another female for those lucky enough to see his undercarriage for a brief moment.

Today’s tour was nothing short of amazing.

After a few days of calm weather where we usually find orca activity decreases at the surface due to the lack of sea surface noise, we can presume that these groups were hungry and needed to forage today through the louder swells that silence their own communications and movements through the water column.

Orca usually eat about 5% of their own body weight each day; with the larger bulls that can be up to 250kg of meat per day. With an approximation of over 60 orca seen through the course of the day, a total exceeding 10 tonne of meat could have been consumed between pod members within our tour! Shows us how rich and diverse this incredible ecosystem is that we are so privileged to observe everyday in our Bremer Canyon season.

-Naturaliste Charters

This post was adapted from a blog, read more here.

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