Orca, also known as a killer whale, is not a whale, but rather a dolphin. As a killer, it is an apex predator at the top of its food chain. Its primary food source is its cousins – dolphins!
It is not a killer of humans, except in the movies and urban legend.
My very first sighting of orcas was a pod with a mother and her calf. It was an exciting visual experience to watch and photograph the calf and mother swim and dive in close proximity to each other, as if they were one very large mammal.
Standing on the back of a zodiac craft in the Johnstone Strait, near Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, we were close to the water and close to these magnificent creatures. Maybe too close. A torpedo only 50 feet away, heading straight for our little craft is what came to mind as one dove at the last second and slid under our boat.
I was hoping to see and photograph breaching behavior. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I was, however, able to capture tail slapping, also know as lobtailing.
Driving With Dolphins
While traveling through the strait behind the orca pod, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a pod of hundreds of dolphins. They jumped, dove and danced around our boat, easily swimming at our speed and always one hop ahead of the bow of the zodiac.
Watch this short video clip of driving with the dolphins:
The orca pod was dead ahead. The dolphins, unaware, were heading straight for the orca pod. Orcas dine on dolphins. Dolphins fear orcas. When the lead dolphin realized that they were on a collision course with their worst predator, panic prevailed. The dolphin herd turned and fled. The dolphins jumped and dove at top speed, the water churned and splashed, and a wave of dolphins sped by us in the opposite direction hoping to outrun the orca pod.
Watch this video clip of the dolphins in panic flight:
The orcas did not pursue. The dolphins escaped and avoided becoming dinner!
Just another day in the wild.
CampbellRiverWhaleWatching.com provide this unique experience. We recommend them if you are in the area. They provided an excellent adventure.
Campbell River was just one stop on our 60-day, 8700 mile, Denver to Denali and back adventure. For a travel blog of the full adventure see: