Like many of our guests, we get very excited when Orcas come to visit the Monterey Bay. And for the past week, Killer Whales (Orcas) have been in the Bay hunting Gray whales. We’ve had several sightings – and even got to see a rare, Planet Earth-esque moment where a pod of Orcas were actively hunting a mother Gray whale and her calf at the surface.
Gray whales are a migratory whale that travel from their birthing grounds in Baja California up to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska. Mothers and calves leave Baja a bit later in the season to allow the calves to become strong enough to travel.
Killer whales have learned the migratory route, and wait for the Gray whales and their vulnerable calves to pass through the Monterey Bay.
This year we have had four calf kills back-to-back, one we actually witnessed during on of our whale watching tours, which is extremely rare here in the Bay. Typically, these happen once every few weeks, not all within one week, but this year seems to be different. It’s been suggested that it could be because it took so long for the Gray whales to arrive, leaving the Orcas very hungry.
Killer whales do not have any known migratory route, instead they seem to follow the availability of food. And it seems as if we have plenty, so we suspect they might stick around for a while.
During the Springtime in California, we can expect to see Humpback, Blue, Minke, and Fin whales, in addition to the hunting Killer whales. Humpbacks are definitely the most abundant, as they are also a migratory whale traveling from Baja California.
It’s interesting to have Humpback whales and Killer whales in the Bay at the same time as Humpbacks are considered the only altruistic marine animal. This means they sometimes defend other marine mammals from Killer whale attacks, with no personal gain of their own.
We’re excited to see how all these creatures interact with one another in the coming days!