A hunting ground for the ocean’s greatest apex predator lies just off the southern coast of Western Australia.
Bremer Bay orca tours, WA
“When we go out to see the orca in this area we interact with the same family pods each time – usually between six and 20 individuals – and form a relationship with them,” says guide Gemma Sharp. “It’s like getting to know a human family – there’ll be a mum and her sons and daughters and their sons and daughters.”
Sharp and her family have run Whale Watch Western Australia since 2012, taking guests to meet the orca (killer whale) pods they’ve come to know so well in Bremer Bay, 480 kilometres south-west of Perth.
“Some are very friendly and they’ll race over or spyhop, which means they bring their head out of the water to look at us. If there’s a new calf they even bring the baby over to introduce it to us.”
The sight of these curious and unexpectedly friendly predators in their natural habitat, sometimes so close you could practically touch them, is aweinspiring. “When people see them for the first time it’s a big celebration, usually with loud cheering,” says Sharp. “The level of excitement is incredible.”
Huge numbers of the sleek black-andwhite marine mammals congregate in these waters – often more than 200 at a time – because it’s full of food, with the bulk of the orca’s diet at this time of year made up of the giant and colossal squid species. But it’s not just whales that see this patch of ocean on the edge of the continental shelf as a smorgasbord. It’s also a feeding ground for sperm whales, pilot whales, dolphins, sunfish and seals.
Whale Watch Western Australia’s orca tours leave daily from Bremer Bay between January and March, aboard a luxury 25-metre catamaran. Guests are greeted by crew in full uniform who serve welcome drinks and are on hand to answer any questions as the boat heads out past Glassy Island, home to a large colony of Australian sea lions.
There’s a grazing buffet available on board during the journey and celebratory drinks and toasts at the end. The company can also arrange coach transfers from Albany or Ravensthorpe airports to Bremer Bay by request.
You’d have to be unlucky not to see an orca – Sharp’s mum and the operation’s co-owner, Leanne, says this only happens two per cent of the time – but if you don’t, the team will give you a free return trip that’s valid for a lifetime. “We’ve never not seen orca two days in a row so if you miss out just jump back on the boat again the next day for free,” says Leanne.
“The whole experience is absolutely incredible,” adds Sharp. “Even for us it never, ever gets old.”
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Image credit: Lincoln Fowler
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