The morning started well. Great, actually. Went out on the deck and watched a school of Pacific white-sided dolphins on parade as they headed north. Pretty neat. There were close to 100 of them and they were leaping and swooshing at a rapid rate, doing their leaps-in-the-air in groups of eight to twelve. They were close in and so close you could see their eyes. It was a veritable march of dolphins.
Then, after watching them roll on down the channel like a herd of bison on the plains, we went about our morning business.
An hour or so later we boated over to unload the contents of our car which was parked on an adjacent island and came back to our beach for further ‘schlepping’ of supplies to the house. Then Sal headed off to tie her boat up at the dock. She was just out of sight. Then the walkie-talkie………….
“Wow, Dave! Dolphins just flying by!! All around the boat! Holy……….”
I grabbed my walkie-talkie. “Where are you?”
“I am just around the point and…….OMYGAWD!! OHMYGAWD!!!………Killer Whales! Killer Whales!! Holy………..you should see this ………………………OMYGAWD!!! They are chasing the dolphins…………No!………..No………..wait………….”
I wait. Nothing. I wait. More nothing. “Sal!? Sal!? What’s going on?”
“Unh……..J & J are coming out and……OMYGAWD!!! There are tons of Orcas……I think they have trapped a bunch of dolphins in our bay…….OH-MY-GAWD!!! They are hunting! You gotta see this!!”
(cackle….psssst……..static………….cackle……….) The walkie-talkie crackled again…”Dave, this is R. I’m getting my boat! I’ll pick you up as I go by!”
And R picks me up a few minutes later. We go around the point. Sal is there. So are J and J. We look around in amazement. There are half a dozen Orcas swimming all around us. They are mostly swimming back and forth in front of our bay. We look into the bay. There are few more Orcas further in. We look past them and see what turns out to be about 20 or so smaller fins (dolphins) herded up at the shallow end. They are clearly panicked.
For the next hour or so we watch from our small boats, our motors off, drifting with the wind and current – as close as fifty feet at times – as the dolphins feint and swerve in an effort to get to open water and the whales swoop in and – well, we never actually saw them succeed – to get one or two.
Then the trapped group would swerve around in retreat and head for the shallows again. Now and then we saw a dolphin ‘get away’ but, of course, we never saw the ones that got caught.
All we really knew for sure was that the number of dolphins still corraled at the head of our bay was getting smaller. And we watched until the whales had had enough. The surviving dolphins hung around a bit longer and then took off when the coast was clear.
Eating on the run, eh? And sometimes being eaten on the run. Sheesh.
(A shame we didn’t have a camera with us but check out page 10 of the May 2012 ‘Harbour Spiel’ for pictures of a similar event: http://www.harbourspiel.com/files/harbour-spiel-may-2012-issue.pdf