The Orcas of Bremer Bay

Did you know you can actually see Orcas in Western Australia?
It had long been a bucket list item of mine to see Killer Whales in the wild but it was only about five years ago that I found out about the Orcas of Bremer Bay.
Who knew I could see them in my own backyard!?

From January to April, large familial groups of Orcas migrate to the Bremer Canyon, where the warmer Leeuwin Current and the cold Antarctic currents converge to create a biodiversity hotspot. It’s here that the Orcas come to feast on their favourites, including giant squid and beaked whale.

There are two tour companies that will take you to see the Bremer Bay Orcas out to the canyons along the Continental Shelf, Whale Watch Western Australia and Naturaliste Charters.
I decided on Whale Watch Western Australia as it looked a little comfier and put on a great spread for lunch. (Hah! Hindsight, we’ll look back on this soon and laugh.)

After arriving at 7.30am at Bremer Bay Boat Harbour, which is under 10 mins from the town centre, we check in, board and are away by 8am.

The sea is still a bit choppy and we’re moving fast across the water to reach the canyon, some 19 nautical miles (35km) off the coast.
Now, I’m susceptible to motion sickness and had taken motion sickness tablets the night before and again that morning. So far, so good but I keep a dead eye on the horizon just in case. I can see others around me starting to feel off.
Keeping an eye on the horizon is a great way to avoid sea sickness. That is, unless the horizon is moving so much that it completely disappears above and below the boat window.
I focus on clouds instead but can feel the uneasiness begin. I grab a spew bag and try and bring something up but I’ve had nothing to eat or drink since the night before.
Others around me start to use their bags too and the ladies who work on board are busy taking bags, handing out more and generally just being really nice about it.
I find my sickness comes in waves and between those waves I feel just fine!

We finally arrive at ‘The Patch’, an area known for Orca activity. We’re on the lookout for dark fins, puffs of white and loitering birds. Eventually we spot a pod and head over only to be immediately greeted by mum and calf orcas, Milli and Moni. They come right up to the boat as if to say ‘hi’ before going underneath and then swimming along, rolling on their sides so they can get a good view of the tourists above.

We follow the pod and are introduced to other members, such as Giovanni and B-Slice, two large males, distinctive with their giant dorsal fins which glide through the water like a knife.
Giovanni is named after cetacean researcher John Totterdell, who first noticed the Bremer Bay Orcas congregating in the area. B-Slice has a small chunk missing in his dorsal that gives him his name.

But it was really the Milli and Moni show, as they repeatedly came over and played nearby. At one point Moni playfully had Milli’s tail in her mouth, gently pulling her back. You can see this in the video below, taken by Whale Watch Western Australia that day.

The crew repeatedly came around with lots of freshly made food, which looked delicious but I wasn’t risking it. After the boat had slowed down, I had stayed on the bow of the boat taking photos and the fresh air and visibility of the horizon really made me feel a lot better. Unfortunately, for others, they were sick the whole time and never ventured from their seats.
One very sick woman near me said, “I saw an orca and an albatross out the window, so at least I can say I saw one!”

Bremer Bay Orca Tours

Whale Watch Western Australia
Cost: Adult – $385
Child – $300
RAC Discount if you’re a member
When: January to April
Departs: 8am, Bremer Bay Boat Harbour
Returns: Around 3pm
Tours available with pickup/return from Albany
100% sighting guaranteed or alternative date offered.

Naturaliste Charters
Cost: Adult – $385
Child – $300
When: January to April
Departs: 8.30am, Bremer Bay Boat Harbour
Returns: Around 4.30pm
Tours available with pickup/return from Albany
100% sighting guaranteed or alternative date offered.

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