Extraordinary aquatic battle royale is about to kick off near Bremer Bay

Jennene Riggs filming for the 2013 documentary The Search for the Oceans Super Predator.
Jennene Riggs filming for the 2013 documentary The Search for the Oceans Super Predator.

IT’S an aquatic battle royale.

A marine hotspot off the coast of Bremer Bay is the summer hunting ground for killer whales, giant squid and great whites all fighting it out for a slice of the fish food chain.

The Bremer Canyon, 50km off the Great Southern coast, hosts the world’s largest known congregation of killer whales, a spectacle that documentary filmmaker David Riggs has been filming since 2005.

“There are about a dozen family groups that visit the area to feed and breed,” he said.

“Some families turn up and are yellow, some are green and others are black and white.

“This seems to indicate they are coming from different geographical locations that have different water temperatures.

“The killer whales feed on beaked whales, which are there to feed on squid and juvenile sperm whales and they also steal giant squid from adult bull sperm whales.”

Mr Riggs said the deep water congregation was unique in the world.

“Killer whales are found in all the world’s oceans and are one of the most common mammals in the sea, he said.

“But this deep water congregation is unique because no where else has an offshore congregation been discovered.

“I believe they come here because there is a lot of food in this area during summer because of a leaking deepwater petroleum system located on the sea floor.

“It has been seismically surveyed and proven to hold a commercial quantity of oil and gas which when leaking under pressure turns into a fertiliser that is utilised by plankton which in turn feed the squid and so on.”

Mr Riggs said despite the ominous name, there was only one known human fatality involving a killer whale in the wild.

“A Russian harpooned one in waters off Antarctica, he fell in and it killed him,” he said.

“In the wild they are typically curious of humans but generally don’t show any aggression, unless you harpoon one.”

Mr Riggs said after extensive lobbying the area has been declared a marine park that is exempt from oil and gas exploration.

He said the killer whales were becoming more common as the sperm whale population increases after whale hunting ceased in Albany in the 70s.

“There are reports of at least a dozen killer whales in the Bremer Canyon a few weeks ago,” he said.

Tours start on January 4.

To visit the killer whales go to www.bremercanyon.com