Surging Orcas – 13/2/23

We welcome everybody from Bremer Bay, Western Australia.

We came to the opposite side of the world to witness these amazing animals in the Southern Ocean.

Bemer Bay has a population of approximately 200-350 orcas. They are considered offshore orcas, feeding on giant squid and beaked whales. Beaked whales came in handy, as they also prey on giant squid. That means the orcas will likely find the beaked whales wherever there are squid. So, the orcas can have two prey species on the menu in this deep water canyon system, close to the continental shelf.

We have observed the orcas for two days now.

They are different from the ones we have in Norwegian waters. First of all, they seem to be bigger.

The diet is different, and therefore their feeding behavior is too.

So far, we have been lucky to witness two times them feeding on both days on beaked whales. Unfortunately, we did not see the kill (it happened deep, not on the surface), but from the size of the oil spill that came out of the carcass and the amount of blood, it is assumed that they were predating on beaked whales.

There are several pods in the area. On both days, we had different pods that made the kill, but one thing surprised me.

When a pod killed a beaked whale, all the other pods in the closed vicinity rushed to the scene. Rushed with a very high speed, it is called surging here. They were swimming very fast and jumping out of the water to be able to breathe and keep their momentum at the same time.

Orcas are not territorial animals, so they just observed when the pods arrived at the scene where the kill had been made. They did not steal the food from the others. However, they share if there were parts that were not eaten by the “killer” pod. Nothing goes to waste. Scavenging sharks, short-tailed shearwaters, and yellow-nosed albatrosses will consume whatever is not eaten by the orcas. These pods are friendly to each other, and they were witnessed to cooperate when they were preying on bigger baleen whales (like blue whales).

For me, it is still fascinating to see how social, cooperative, and intelligent these animals are.

I still absolutely love the power they use when “surging” somewhere. The speed was unbelievable…like bow-riding bottlenose dolphins.

I am very excited to encounter more pods in Bremer Bay for the next few days, see different behavior, and learn and understand these amazing animals.

-Krisztina/Orc Channel

All photos were taken on the 13th and the 14th of February, 2023, in Bremer Bay.

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