Friday, January 30, 2015

Baby humpback taken by orcas at Roca Partida!

Hola amigos!

As you know we stayed for a second day at Roca Partida and it was a day full of emotions.
We started the day as usual having a great breakfast prepared by chef Tony and everybody was only thinking about getting in the water with the humpback whales from yesterday that showed us how these giants can be so gentle and allowed us into their very private family moments as long as we respect them. But the day had more than that waiting for us.
So first dive, water was a little choppy but warm 77F/25C, visibility around 60ft/18m, went in the water and the whales were not around the rock so we went to play with the bottlenose dolphins - lots of them and as usual they did not disappoint, they kept 2 groups entertained for the whole dive coming and going and as always leaving only smiles on our faces! But by the end of the dive they did something that was not normal, suddenly all of them got together and swam away heading north, weird but we thought that maybe they found something to go feed on.
Meanwhile the other group went to the south of the rock where they found once again mama and baby humpback along with the male escort that showed their kindness yesterday and let us stay with them for a while taking pictures and video and just letting us be part of their family. There are no words to describe how we felt being with them. End of the dive and half of the divers were back on Solmar V, the other zodiac picking up the last two divers in the water. Everybody out and on the way back to the boat when we spot the whales on the south end of the rock so we plan to go in the water with them snorkeling before going back to the boat and just as we were ready to enter the water one of the divers shouts...KILLER WHALES!!!...yes there were two huge males. At first we thought cool more whales! But then the fight began - the two killer whales just went right at the baby humpback, mama and the escort tried to get them away trying to hit them with their tales and the escort putting his whole body on top of them, but the orcas were too fast for them and sadly we saw from the zodiac that the baby was bleading, we could even smell the whale oil mixing in the water. Only a small bite, the baby still alive and moving. The fight continued and after not even a minute we saw the killer whales leaving. We thought that the baby was safe now back with mama, as mama and the escort started swimming back to the rock, but then we realized that the baby was being escorted away by the killer whales without biting or harming it just swimming next to it. Then the sadness hit us when we saw mama come up to breath and exhale a couple of times. The sound she made was just sad. We were just shocked. We called the boat and the other zodiac came with the rest of the divers and we followed the orcas. Once they were far enough from mama and the rock one of them went on top of the baby whale and dragged it down. Being a baby it cannot hold its breath for long and after a few minutes we knew that was it, the baby was being drowned. After a while both killer whales came up and a few seconds after that the body floated to the surface. Then the orcas started feeding. They took turns taking the body down while biting it and then leting it float again. Of course this also attracted sharks, about 20 silky sharks came and they all took turns getting a piece of the baby humpback. We watched from the zodiacs and also putting our faces in the water with our masks on. It lasted about an hour and then it was all gone.
All kinds of feelings were floating around on the Solmar V. Some divers were crying for the baby and mama humpback, others were sad but felt privileged to have witnessed the whole show. Definitely it was sad to watch a baby being taken away from its mama, but it is also mother nature and the circle of life. We can feel lucky to be a witness to its power. For me it was mixed feelings, but definitely we are so lucky to be out here and see nature at its best and sometimes worst! That's why we divers come out to the wilderness, to see what mother nature has for us on any given day and there will never be two days the same. Today we saw a sad part, but we are here to learn from these magestic animals and their behaviors and we got to see a lot of that today. We learned that the dolphins reaction of leaving and going away north was because they knew there was a danger coming. We also saw, as one of our divers said, “the wolves of the oceans”(orcas) in action and got to see how strong and powerful they can be, that not even 2 huge humpback whales that easily double their size and weight could stop them. We also learned that mother nature gives and takes and it is not always going to be pretty, but it will always be something we can learn the best from.
So after all of these emotions we went back to the boat and refilled tanks for a second dive back to the rock and this time at the surface we could see mama and the escort swimming around the rock but not in the same way as before. We decided to enter the water while trying to keep our distance because we didnt know how they were going to react. But we did not see them in the first half of the dive so we went to swim around the rock enjoying the white tip reef sharks but not much else. It felt like a very lonely place. We all could feel the sadness in the water. By the second half of the dive the whales showed up but this time they passed by 4 times swimming fast without stopping to check us out. We felt mama was swimming desperately, probably still in shock. They just swam around and around the rock very fast.
For our third dive we went to the rock expecting to see mama and the escort again to say good bye as we had decided to leave Roca Partida tonight and go back to San Benedicto as the killer whales changed our plans. We headed south and had a lot of white tips swimming around there so we stayed with them while waiting for the whales to come but nothing so we kept waiting. While waiting we spotted a school of 5 huge yellow fin tunas patroling the rock and a couple of hammerhead sharks. Suddenly mama showed up swimming literally right next to the rock really, really fast and a few seconds later she was gone. We kept waiting but nothing happened so we started ascending and right at the safety stop here they came!...Mama and the escort swam together a few meters away from us, this time a lot calmer and kind of saying good bye as she slowed down for a few seconds and then they both disappeared into the blue water.
Definitely this is going to be a trip that is going to be with us for the rest of our lives. We all are going to go back home and share this story with our loved ones but sadly nobody that was not here is going to understand. We can show videos, pictures, tell the story but nobodoy is going to feel what we felt being out there in mother nature's hands - this is why we come out here and this is why we love diving!
Stay tuned because this trip is not over yet!

Hasta la vista!

Antonio Romero
Dive Instructor
Solmar V


  1. We have underwater videos of the attack. We were on the Nautilus Explorer and we were scuba diving at the moment of the attack. I think we should put all of the videos toghether. This can make a very good documentary.

  2. Wow Amazing video about underwater fish attack..