Close Encounters with Orcas Aboard the Nautilus Gallant Lady

Seeing orcas up close is so exhilarating that you need to often pause to catch your breath and marvel at these magnificent creatures of the ocean. Powerful and majestic, they invoke a feeling of humility in you as you see them roaming the vast oceans. My trip aboard the Nautilus Gallant Lady fulfilled all my dreams of being up close with orcas but half this fun and excitement would not have been there if it had not been for the wonderful hospitality offered to us by all crew and staff aboard the boat.

I will describe all aspects for the benefit of readers starting from jumping into the waters to see orcas hunting first-hand to a word about how lavishly all guests were treated on the Gallant Lady.

An Amazing Experience with the Orcas

Life was so hectic leading up to boarding, that I had no time to think of the trip or form expectations. But when the trip started it was adventuring all the way.

The star of the trip was seeing orcas on the first day. I had a feeling that it might not happen, as wildlife is very unpredictable. But all the doubts were put to rest and my heart was racing as the RHIB dashed off in pursuit of orcas in the nearby area.

The first moment of seeing their fins as they took a breath was surreal. Seeing two orcas swimming side by side in the wild was truly unbelievable, and something most people will never experience in their lifetime. Even more surprising was seeing them not once but twice in the water. Their power and speed were unbelievable as I saw them swim past below the surface. The black and white sleek, swift whales made my stomach do a flip.

The next day was no exception and we were treated to our fill of orcas. We were super happy in the morning playing with the sea lions at La Lobera in San Francisquito when we heard the call of Captain Yann on the radio – ORCAAAA – ORCAAAS!! It was music to our ears as that was the call we had all been waiting for. All of us jumped on the RHIB and raced back to the Gallant Lady.

And what we saw is what dreams are made of. There was a family of 6 orcas. There was one big and impressive male that could be identified from the impotent dorsal fin followed by another male, a juvenile, and 2 females with 2 babies. They were busy hunting for mobulas but soon got curious at our presence and swam close to us. It was the perfect moment to jump in the water!

Words cannot express my feelings at this moment. It was incredible, a dream come true. Swimming with the kings of the ocean in their habitat when they are hunting is pure adrenaline. You feel part of nature in the middle of the sea with these wild animals.

Warmth and Friendliness Aboard the Nautilus Gallant Lady

No amount of fun with wildlife can lift your mood if you get shoddy treatment after dive hours. But that was not the case with us.  
From the second I stepped foot on the ‘Gallant Lady’, I got a feeling of camaraderie with the crew and the support staff who went all out to welcome us on board. As I embarked, I was handed a glass of champagne and instantly, I felt layers of work, worry, stress, and responsibility shed off. As we were introduced to the staff, I truly felt a sense of sincerity and kindness and that the crew and visitors were a united force, with the same mission to find orcas and have a truly positive week together.

My experience on the Gallant Lady was awesome. From delicious homemade bread at the break of dawn, smiles from the crew genuinely getting to know us, smoothies after hunting for wildlife, to learn about the surrounding area from the captain, we had it all. Housekeeping was excellent – homemade cookies, gorgeous fresh flowers in the living room, soaking in the hot tub at sunset after a long day of searching for whales, and a freshly made room each day. Could anybody ask for more?

Summing Up

Every moment of the trip threw surprises at us – seeing sea lions, humpback whales, mobulas, dolphins, sea birds, and schools of fish.

I always have a mentality of gratitude and believe that having no expectations leads to this mindset. I am so grateful for each day and the nature that surrounds me. Every moment of this trip has been an enlightening experience for me.

By Nautilus Crew

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

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