A Mega-Pod of False Killer Whales

We were anchored in Cabo Pearce, Socorro Island when there were shouts of, “dolphins, dolphins!” – they were several hundred metres away. As we watched, we realised that they were larger than our typical bottlenose residents and moving a lot quicker too. White plumes of spray rising up off their gleaming black dorsal fins and backs into the wind. Suddenly, one breached a full two meters out of the water and now on seeing it’s profile it was confirmed to be a mega-pod of false killer whales. Numbering well over a hundred individuals.

They circled round in the bay then headed out towards and beyond the lava finger out to sea. They seemed to be leaving but a few of us decided to venture out to test our luck in one of the Zodiacs. Armed with fins, masks and a sense of adventure we headed out in search of them. The pod seemed to be headed out to open sea so we thought we would just follow at a distance and watch them from the Zodiac. All of a sudden, the pod veered to the south and back towards our path.

We changed course to be ahead of the pod and managed to get in to positions within a minute. We then cut the engines and waited 30 seconds or so. The pod was still heading our way so the guys got in the water and left me and Maria in the Zodiac. Within seconds, I saw thumbs up and lots of pointing. They had seen two false killer whales pass right by about 10 meters below them.

A curious silky shark came in to investigate too which is very common when getting in open water. They are so abundant here you can almost guarantee they will show up anywhere around the islands within minutes.

We still had 40 minutes before the next dive, so we got everyone back into the Zodiac fully stoked with smiles all round. We did the same again, giving the pod a wide berth and following until they changed course again, coming back towards us allowing us to get ahead. This time we were in a slightly better position and right in the thick of it too. They were all around covering a large portion of our view to the horizon. There were now around 200 plus individuals in the pod and they had formed a tighter formation.

We were ahead again, engines off, waiting in silence. They continued their rapid advance towards us. It was time for the snorkelers to get in again and leave myself and Maria in the Zodiac. There were two small groups of around 5-10 individuals each, one right behind the other heading straight for the snorkelers. As they approached, I could see the snorkelers get tighter together, probably a very natural response when in the open ocean with almost 15-20 apex predators five meters in length bearing down on you.

They moved on swiftly as they had places to go, but their hunt was still on. However they clearly regarded their human cousins with the same curiosity as the humans did them. They also passed right under the Zodiac and could not have been more than a couple of metres under the surface. So close in fact that me and Maria could actually hear them clicking and screeching as if we were in the water also. The animals turned onto their sides as they did this. Looking up into our eyes as we looked into theirs through the blue medium of the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

  • Divemaster Martyn onboard the Nautilus Undersea

By Nautilus Crew

Recent blogs and dive reports from the crew onboard the Nautilus Liveaboard's vessels.

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