Best! Day! EVER! – An Awe-Inspiring Day In The Field.

So every single day feels special and amazing when I get to be on the water researching killer whales! However, yesterday we had the day to top all days, the day that was better than any other day I have ever experienced on or off the water, potentially the best day of my life (too much…I think not!).

We had the most amazingly large pod of killer whales swimming in a long (slightly dispersed) line ahead of us 15-20+ individuals it was breathtaking, there was a mix of bulls, calfs, females and sub-adult males. It was mind blowing, I had tingles all over and felt so lucky to be in the presence of such an awe-inspiring sight. It truly took my breath away.

Six Individuals Surfacing To Breathe From Our Large Pod Encounter!

Six Individuals Surfacing To Breathe. A Snapshot From Our Large Pod Encounter!

But that ladies and gentlemen wasn’t even the best part. Just when we thought the best day of our lives couldn’t get any better we had a new encounter, something we had never seen before, a pod with a bull, three falcate fins (females or sub-adult males) and….FIVE, yes five, calves! What was going on? Was this an offshoot of the bigger pod like a nursery or creche for the calves? We don’t know, though that seems like one possible explanation. But boy do we want to find out more about this interesting pod composition. Let’s hope we get a repeat encounter before the season is over.

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Three Of The Calves In The Pod Surfacing Together.

The soundtrap which, I discussed last week was out during this whole encounter so *fingers crossed* we have got some interesting acoustics to  analyse from this very interesting pod composition. We will know once we get back to Perth and take the many hours to sit down and go through the hours of acoustic recordings from the soundtrap while also reading the spectrograms to ensure we don’t miss any faint calls that require amplification.

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In Sync! Look At Their Beautiful Light Grey Saddle Patches.

Many thanks to Naturaliste Charters and Riggs Australia for allowing us space on their vessels. Further thanks to the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University for equipment loan and support.


You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look!
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Accidental Whale Portraits And Soundtraps!

We have had some pretty good whale days over the last week. Alongside getting fin shots I have also once or twice lucked out and managed to get some beautiful whale shots as they have surfaced to breathe. Two of my favourites are below. It was pure luck that I managed to get the images in such clear focus that they almost don’t look real. The moment frozen in time with the tidal wave of water is pretty awe worthy I think!

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Soundtrap

SoundTrap by Ocean Instruments New Zealand. Image: Ocean Instruments New Zealand

Alongside photo-id images we are trying to gather acoustic recordings. A new tool which we have been using for that this week is a soundtrap.This is an autonomous underwater recording device that we have rigged up to allow us to tow it behind the vessel when we move at slow speeds. This is in a new attempt to get recordings of the killer whales acoustically communicating without having to stop the vessel. We are excited to listen to and view our recordings to see if we have picked up any calls. So far it seems that flow (water) and engine noise are at a minimum when recording in out current set up which is very good news for picking up biological sounds.

I’ll leave you with one final image that is a later image from a different individual of the same pod during the same surfacing This individual looks like they are wearing a bubble mask!

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Many thanks to Naturaliste Charters and Riggs Australia for allowing us space on their vessels. Further thanks to the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University for equipment loan and support.


You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look!