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 28.07.2010 It was rainy in the morning and we started our work at 11:00 a.m. We surveyed along the shore to the north and then to the south, listening for the underwater sounds from time to time and searching for orcas. But the area was empty. It is not an ordinary situation: Avacha Gulf is an important feeding area for resident killer whales, so usually if we don’t see orcas we can at least hear them. At that day we had traveled about 40 km by the time we came to Russkaja bay and met one solitary harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena there. It was about 5:00 p.m. when we suddenly heard a strange underwater whistle on a hydrophone. At the same time we saw white splashes far away in the sea. We decided to check these splashes. While we were approaching we saw killer whales and few minutes later we understood that they were transient killer whales feeding. Transients do not very often come to Avacha Gulf. And it was really a luck to find transient orcas feeding. We stayed near them for a long time taking photos and making underwater recordings. They were vocalizing from time to time. The group consisted of one mature male, female with a calf that was one-year-old or even younger, one juvenile and one orca of unknown age and sex. They were slowly circling around and diving altogether at the same place. Suddenly they “showed” us their prey. They lifted up a piece of a whale to the water surface. We saw two long bones of lower jaw but it was difficult to recognize other details. Birds were flying around and pecking large pieces of orcas’ prey. We also picked up one piece and identified it as a part of Balaenopteridae. We suppose that this was the first reliable observation of transient orcas hunting whales in Kamchatka.
Later, at the camp, we looked through the photos and understood that their prey was a minke whale. We were also happy to found out that female and juvenile have already been met in Avacha Gulf on the 1st of September, 2005. That time they had been traveling alone, stopping from time to time and vocalizing. It was like they had been calling for other members of their family.



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05 February 2019 01:00
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