About my experience watching Orcas hunting sea lions in Argentina. So, it’s always been a dream for me to see this orcas with this trending, hunting technique. Particularly because I’m half Argentinian half Mexican. And for me, it was like, how come I’ve never seen the Argentinian orcas if we can call them that way.
So, yeah, I finally was able to go this April, I was there, March, April. And even though it’s something very, very spectacular to see, I don’t think it’s for everyone. And I’m what I mean by that is, nature is unpredictable. And we’ll know that right. But this is about just being hours, days and days and many, many hours sitting on the beach, waiting and waiting and waiting and doing nothing. Because one of the ideas, well, not ideas, one of the things you have to do when you are on that beach, is you cannot move a lot because there are lots of sea lion pups. And if they get scared if you scare them, and they get into the water, and the orcas around, and if they hunt them, they sort of like, people in the area sort of tell you that you’re like the person that responsible, that you’re responsible for that pup being killed by an Orca or being hunted by an Orca.
So you have to be very careful, not move a lot. If you want to go to the bathroom no, you have to kind of like know, in a very slow like, movement, not to scare the pup. So anyways, that plus the Patagonian wind, which is super, super strong, that plus the cold weather, or sometimes the super hot weather because it changes a lot. So yeah, it’s like you arrive there, and you’re probably from, like, 7am, before the sunrise until sometimes four or 5pm. And sometimes nothing happens. But when it happens, no it happened to me.
And I was super lucky. I know. I was super, super lucky to witness this because I know there’s many people who have traveled from all around the world to see this. And they have gone for several years and haven’t watched it. And yeah, I was able to watch this. So, it was one morning. It was early in the morning. And we arrived as usual at 7am to the beach, and probably it was not more than an hour and a half that we were waiting there that day. And yeah, the orcas, two siblings, Pao and Shekei, Pao is a male, Shekei is a female. They were patrolling the area, and then the pups it was kind of high tide. And the pups they were getting into the water at this point. The pups kind of know already about the Orca, so they’re a little bit aware, a little bit more aware. So, what they do before they get into the water they put their head inside the water just to see if there’s anything like close to shore so but this time they were not really getting into the water. They were all hanging out like, like some models, lots of pups there.
And then all of a sudden you could see Shekei like, but it happens so fast. It’s just a few seconds. Well this happens. Shekei, a Pao sorry Pao the male. The brother starts patrolling the area with his huge dorsal fin which actually, yeah, he is so big that he kind of alerts some of the sea lions and he’s around and then he moves away, slowly towards to the right side. So, this all happened to the left side of where I was sitting on the beach, and then Shekei all of a sudden she arrives super-fast and does this stranding, grabs a pup. And then she turned to the right side because that’s what they do, usually they grab them and turn to one side. So, I couldn’t really see when she turned to one side, but then she started like moving her body to go back into the ocean and tail slapping a lot against the sand. Then she went into the ocean with the pup. And then she kind of threw it to her brother, to Pao and then he gave it back to her. And then she, that was sad, that was sad to watch. I know it’s nature but it’s hard to watch. Then she grabbed the pup and threw it a little bit not so high, but just a little bit and you could still see the pup was still alive, moving, and then yeah, they didn’t leave they kind of you could tell they were sharing the pup, when they made the kill, they were sharing the pup. And then they stayed for a long time still patrolling the area and then the rest of the family came right. And then they made several other attempts to hunt but yeah, there was no more captured that day that I saw.
But what was, as I said, I know its nature. But even though its nature you still have empathy right for animals. So, what was heartbreaking is that you could see like the, like the moms, like the females, the sea lions, they’re calling the pups, and yeah, that’s what you get to see every morning, the mom’s calling the pups and the pups replying. And then they find each other but then you could see this day like one mom calling and calling and calling a pup and having no reply and coming close to us looking for the pup and I cannot assure you that was the mum of the of the pup that shake took but probably she was you know, and that just breaks your heart and it’s something hard to watch. But at the same time it’s something so amazing to watch, it’s like nature at its biggest more powerful expression, like from the ocean so I don’t know it was it was just amazing. And it took me a while to process what I saw because it’s been a dream and when your dreams come true in my case, at least it takes me a while to process them and they keep daydreaming about the situation, for several days and sometimes it takes me weeks and actually yeah I like that picture know that I took of Shekei hunting the pup I made it my screen saver in my computer and every time I see it, I can feel I can tell I have this huge smile in my head and like right now just smiling just recording this.
So yeah, that was basically my super, super super, super amazing experience witnessing one of the most powerful moments from an Orca.
Oh sorry one more thing it’s just that I got really excited telling this story again. Just wanted to say that watching these huge beautiful Orca’s that you get to see like getting their body all outside the water and putting themselves in risk because it’s a very vulnerable position. It’s also very risky technique, it’s very, very impressive. But also like, through your mind it comes like why like why are you doing this? Like you have plenty of other food in the ocean? Because they do eat other marine mammals and other stuff. So it also makes you wonder, why would they do that and when you see them practicing also that’s another whole story, but I also got to see them practicing and how they teach the young ones and how even when they’re practicing the young ones get stressed and they start tail slapping so hard and like four members of the family around them and then right away they go and help that member of the family to go back to the ocean. Like that whole technique it’s insane it’s insane. And the big question is why would they do it? Is it that baby sea lions, they’re so good, so delicious? That that’s why they do it or?
And I just want to add that I was super grateful because I know I was super lucky. And I’m very yeah, so I’m very grateful with the ocean for giving me this amazing sighting.
This post was adapted from a voice recording in episode 55 of the Whale Tales Podcast, listen here