Looking for a killer day out in Western Australia? Well, Eva argues that you can’t beat boating beside a pod of wild orcas in Bremer Bay.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Goreng and Wudjari Nation, the traditional Country of the Goreng and Wudjari people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Orcas in the wild!
- Watching ocean predators hunt
- Wild southern ocean swells
- Albatross and other sea birds
Orcas? In Australia?
I had zero clue there were orcas in Australia until halfway through our trip around the country when a new friend casually mentioned that ‘The orcas had arrived in Bremer Bay’. A bit of Googling told us we’d arrived on WA’s South Coast for orca season and within 24 hours we’d booked ourselves a day out on the boat looking for one of the most powerful, intelligent, and majestic creatures in the ocean.
The big day arrives and we pile onto the boat with nervous excitement and prepare for the hour-long journey into what seems like the middle of the ocean. But the place we’re heading isn’t random. The Bremer Canyon is a 5000m deep trench off the edge of WA’s South Coast. Every year when nutrients well up from this vast drop off, all kinds of sea life come to feed and the orcas are at the very top of the food chain.
Heading to Bremer Canyon
As we leave the harbour the seas start to heave and sparkle in the early morning sun. It’s a cracker blue sky day with a decent swell. The salty spray stings and the fresh air keeps me hyped as I awkwardly lurch about the deck to snag a coffee and a pastry for brekkie. An hour later the captain announces we’ve left the continental shelf and are officially in orca territory.
Everyone is keenly squinting into the spray to spot their first glimpse. The crew are just as excited as we are and it adds to the suspense. They tell us to keep an eye out for seabirds circling to indicate where the orcas might be. Then off in the distance, an unnaturally tall black triangle looms over the top of the swells and I lose my mind. An orca! In the wild!
At first, I can’t believe we’ve seen one at all but the day just gets more and more epic. We hone in on a pod and all of a sudden they’re everywhere. Lining up alongside the boat to breathe in unison, swimming under the boat with white bellies glowing through the water, jumping up and breaching, fully checking us out.
We follow a few family pods for hours up and down the length of the trench, snapping picture after picture, the whole boat cheering and whooping with excitement every time we see them.
A few of the passengers weren’t loving the big waves (it ain’t for the faint hearted and sea sickness tablets are an absolute must) but the orcas seem to love a big swell and wild wind and they really put on a show. The whole time the crew are right there with us giving us heaps of fascinating info about them, their behaviour, even individual names of the orcas and their families.
We learned that;
- females can live up to 50 years
- only the males have the HUGE fins
- last year they witnessed 90 orcas hunt a Blue Whale
- orcas can only dive to about 50 metres so they have to wait for deep sea animals to come up for a breath to attack
They Don’t Call ‘em Killer for Nothing
I was so in awe of their size, grace, and obvious intelligence. Then just when we thought it couldn’t get any more epic, they started surging off into the distance all at once, moving insanely fast so that we could barely keep up in the boat. The captain announced gleefully that the orcas were on the hunt and we’d get to see them live up to their name as wolves of the sea.
Over the next hour we watched them hunt a small Beaked whale and then share it around amongst almost 50 orcas. There were even a couple or really young babies sharing the meal! The energy was intense and all the passengers and crew were so stoked. By the time we made it back to shore I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face and immediately video called my mum to tell her about the whole thing and she reckoned we looked like a couple of 10 year olds after a school excursion.
This was hands down one of the best days of our whole adventure around Australia. They see orcas 95 days out of 100 and on the days the orcas aren’t there every sea animal you can think of is up on the surface because they can breathe safely!
So if you’re ever in South West WA between January and April, do yourself a favour, splurge a little and book yourself into one of the most epic wildlife experiences in Aus.
How To Get There
Bremer Bay is located near Albany, 5.5 hr drive (500km) south east of Perth or 4hr drive (400km) west of Esperance on the South Coast of Western Australia.