The Killer Whales at Bremer Canyon

The Killer Whales at Bremer Canyon


Image courtesy of Keith Lightbody

Each year from January to April, an incredible natural wonder takes place, in a tiny speck of ocean 65km off the coast of Bremer Bay in Australia’s remote southwest. This small spot, deep in the southern ocean becomes a hotbed of activity for the ocean’s most magnificent creatures.  Killer whales, sperm whales, masses of sharks, giant squid, huge oceanic sunfish and schools of tuna all converge here to fight for food and supremacy.

Bremer Canyon Project

The story of how this lonely speck of ocean was uncovered is a fascinating one and follows the discovery of a washed-up shark tag on a remote West Australian beach. The tag revealed that the healthy young female shark dived suddenly from the surface to a depth of 580m, where its temperature shot up, indicating that it had been eaten.

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Image: Keith Lightbody

Image courtesy of Keith Lightbody

The question of what could possibly eat a 3m large shark led Filmmaker David Riggs to investigate further, ultimately leading him to the discovery of this natural phenomenon occurring at the Bremer Canyon each year. For the past nine years, David Riggs has been observing this awe-inspiring marine hotspot with the first dedicated research expedition to Bremer Canyon conducted in 2013.

Although nobody knows for sure, what is causing this annual phenomenon, David Riggs believes that the feeding frenzy is due to a leaking deep-sea hydrocarbon deposit that under the right conditions produces a methane gas that is causing massive levels of nutrients to flood the surrounding waters.

The Bremer Canyon Project aims to uncover the mystery behind this remarkable event and is dedicated to the preservation of this stunning wilderness location. Sadly, due to its hydrocarbon potential, this area is also of high interest to petroleum companies who have already explored this area.

To find out more about the discovery of Bremer Canyon, you can view the excellent ABC documentary -The Search for the Ocean’s Super Predator.

Bremer Canyon Tours

Image: Keit Lightbody

Image courtesy of Keith Lightbody

This is one of the only places on earth where Killer Whales (also known as Orcas) are seen with a high level of certainty, on occasion more than a hundred Killer Whales have been seen at the same time. The area is also believed to be the biggest congregation of Killer Whales in the southern hemisphere.

Each day multiple pods of Whales are seen – calves, females and large bulls are seen riding waves, torpedoing alongside the expedition boats, laying upright and sticking their heads out for a closer view. There are also masses of seabirds including the mighty Albatross, Mutton Bird and Tern.

To see this natural wonder, Naturaliste Charters has teamed up with the Rigg Research Team to offer tours to the Bremer Canyon. By joining the expedition tour, you will be actively supporting the Bremer Canyon Project and helping to fund and document this important research. You will also automatically become a member of and get access to further images and information about the research.

Naturaliste Charters runs tours each day from 13 January to April 2018.

Check tour prices and availability here. 

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Killer Whales at Bremer Canyon



  1. Reni says:

    Hi Nina,
    Wow, absolutely amazing. Would love to experience that spectacle once in my life. The more I’m reading your blog the more I wanna come back to WA to explore more of your fascinating country.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Nina B says:

      Hi Reni, I’ve only just started uncovering all these amazing things in WA. I had no idea that we had Killer Whales on our shores! Hope you’re enjoying Indonesia and hopefully see you back in Fremantle and WA.

  2. Red Nomad OZ says:

    Fantastic! This is SO on my list for next time I head west!! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before – it looks like an amazing experience!! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

    • Nina B says:

      Hi Red, thanks for visiting the site. I don’t think many people have heard of this before. Tours only started a year ago. Let’s hope that it stays in pristine condition and that there are no further petroleum explorations along the canyon.

  3. Hi Nina,

    I’ve never heard of this one but it sound super interesting! I’d love to do the tour and support the project. Next time I’m down that way (I’ve been to Bremer Bay once before) in either February or May, I’ll give it a go!

    • Nina B says:

      Hi Andy, yes, isn’t it amazing. The spectacle only last for two months each year, from February to March. It has something to do with the nutrients that get flooded to the surface due to conditions that no one is yet sure about. This is what attracts all this marine life to the area during this short span of time. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Chantae says:

    This is incredible! I’ve heard a lot about Bremer Bay and these majestic whales. I would love to see them myself.

    • Nina B says:

      Hi Chantae, I love the whole story behind it and how it was discovered. It’s a worry that the area is a rich in hydrocarbons and under threat from being explored by petroleum companies. Let’s hope it stays the way it is.

  7. lee says:

    Wow amazing – I did not know! Fascinating! The wonders of WA hey

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  9. Joe M says:

    Hi Nina, I’ve heard of tours from operators into April also. Is this worthwhile exploring or is it to late in the calender..

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