Our first killer whale encounter of 2021 occurred with one of our favorite orcas, CA171B Fatfin! He is a very special whale that we frequently encounter in Monterey. We soon spotted CA21 and CA169 nearby. Fatfin started tail slapping next to the boat. Then the three whales quickly transitioned into travel mode and headed off together.
Absolutely amazing day today observing orcas for 9 hours! We saw 11 whales all together - first the CA140Bs, CA23A2, and the CA113s! We then received a report of a second group and IDed them as CA10 and some of the CA23s! The first group was traveling slowly for a lot of the day, but the best part was when they started resting and “cuddling” with each other in a “cuddle puddle!” The young ones were rolling around, lifting their heads out of the water, and rubbing against the adults - an amazing and intimate moment.
On Thursday, April 15th, we headed north and spent time with what appeared to be two groups of whales that stayed fairly close to each other, while intermittently dispersing and mixing: the CA39s, (including CA39, CA39C, CA39C1, a young calf who is most likely CA39C2, and CA39D), as well as CA26, CA36, CA35, and CA35A.
April 18th was an incredible day, with several groups of killer whales in one general area. Meet the new CA51 calves! We are thrilled to confirm that both CA51 Star (head matriarch of "The Friendly Pod") and her eldest daughter, CA51A Aurora, both had calves since last season; they are just a few to several months old!
On April 19th we had another exciting day filled with several different orca groups, many of them hunting Pacific white-sided dolphin! There was no visible evidence of a successful kill, but that might not have been the primary goal. The pursuit of these dolphins seemed to be a teaching opportunity for the matriarchs to practice hunting techniques with their young. We observed leaping, ramming, tail slapping, and other remarkable behaviors.
RISSO'S DOLPHIN PREDATION - very rare documentation!
Today we had an absolutely incredible encounter with 7-8 Bigg's transient killer whales that included an adult male, a large juvenile, and a calf. We have only documented a fatal Risso's dolphin attack in Monterey Bay once before! We also once observed Risso's dolphin CHASING off killer whales. Interactions between these two species are rare.
Sightings from 29-31 and 9/3 Fatfin (CA171B) was sighted in Monterey Bay with a female, CA169, for 4 days on August 29, 30, 31 and September 3rd. We have had several posts about him, so we are sure many of you know him well. He is named after his wide dorsal fin, and he has been the locals’ favorite for many years. He is fully capable of hunting on his own and is often seen by himself.