Ross Sea (type C) Killer Whales are still at the Bremer Marine Park.
With the incredible Antarctic super pod of over 120 individuals sighted on yesterday’s expedition, (see our last daily blog for detailed information about these special Bremer visitors)…crew were still buzzing on this potential first ever encounter in all West Australian waters.
This enthusiasm spread quickly in the morning among our passengers onboard as we dropped ropes, in the hope of sighting these unique sub species again. With skipper Dundee back from break that level was amplified as we steered south under dark billowing clouds & patches of rain squalls ahead.
With windows of sunlight ocean glistening & rainbows bending along the horizon all eyes were scouring for the potential of a migrating Blue Whale blow as we steamed towards the continental shelf.
A decent 2m underlying groundswell & 10knt SW winds eased as we arrived at the deeper waters of the Hotspot. Continuing south with no blows & only a few pelagic sea birds the call was made to turn to starboard & run west south of the 1000m contour. The hours ticked over as we passed the “S bends” with keen eyes spotting a plastic bag drifting 1m under the surface. A quick u-turn & gaff collected the marine rubbish & we were back on course towards “Shreks”.
Still no orca & now lunchtime we turned back on a slightly more northern course to run with the swell & wind back to the east. This was nearby the area we left the westward travelling Ross Sea Killer Whale super pod yesterday…
“FINS!” was called out by Furnley, a passenger onboard our port side.
We love it when our customers show up our experienced crew in spotting the first Orca. Especially when it’s sighted in the blinding glare of sunlight ocean 400m away! Everyone onboard now fully alert & excited from our non-eventful hours of cruising as we slowly made our way to join this pod cutting dark shapes on silver water.
We couldn’t believe it wasn’t our familiar Bremer Orca…again, but the Ross Sea ecotype that had now blessed us with another rare encounter.
They surfaced & milled around before turning towards our vessel & making a close pass. Showing a stronger curiosity & interest than yesterday before diving again. We idled as five minutes passed & they were up again close by & relaxed, numbering well over fifty individuals.
Where were all the others from the day before?
Spending around the same time on the surface before returning down it was behaviour suggesting they had found good hunting grounds by staying in the general area & only moving slightly south on some surfaces.
The pelagic birds were now increasing with Wilson’s Storm Petrels & Flesh Footed Shearwaters the regulars. Along with the odd Indian Yellow Nose Albatross & Shy Albatross gliding by. A seldom sighted single Soft-plumaged Petrel expertly swooped at speed around us, waiting, like us for these fish eating predators to reappear.
We enjoyed their company for over two hours before it was time to head home with multiple memorable relaxed close encounters.
A special thank you to our passenger photographers Cathrine, Flynn, Furnley, Adam, Tristen for helping document this historical event & sharing your pictures. With this collaboration helping our ongoing research & ID cataloging.
With the last few days of the season ahead this is developing into an epic ending of another incredible season with still more to discover. Thank you to everyone one that has come aboard our expeditions, helping us continue our important research & a special shout out to everyone about join very us soon for the rest of the Bremer Bay Killer Whale Season.
Blog and images by crew member Mark Jackman.