The afternoon was giving way to evening as we left Cap Sante in search of whales. Our route took us out through Guemes Channel and south into Rosario Strait as we passed the bottom of Lopez Island heading towards the Straits of Juan de Fuca. But our first whale of the day was closer than that. It was a minke whale foraging in the shallow waters of Salmon Bank. As they typically do the minke was moving in large circles, but it gave us several good looks before we continued our push west.
The waters were teeming with birds as we went, and it was a real treat to see all of the Rhinoceros Auklets out with forage fish gathered in their bills, ready for the flight back to feed their waiting chicks. I love these little birds!
But there were bigger things ahead!
It wasn't long before we started seeing the exhalations of many, many whales all grouped up as they came in on the flood tide. It seems like as they reached Haro they spread out, foraging as they moved towards San Juan Island. The first whales we saw were members of the L4s---Nugget (L55) and some of her kids.
Nugget's youngest offspring, Jade (L118).
Takoda (L109) and his older sister, Lapis (L103).
Kasatka (L82) came by with her son, Finn (L116) and boy was Finn feeling playful. I can't even count how main tail lobs he did, followed by a breach, as he swam with his mom towards San Juan Island.
Finn (L116) tail lobbing.
As we left the L4s there were some whales off in the distance playing and breaching. I had a sneaking suspicion it was the newest member of the L12s and the whales that were approaching were going to confirm that for me, because it was Matia (L77) and her daughter Joy (L119)! They were intent on where they were going but gave us several great looks. I'm hoping they knew there were some juicy salmon up ahead for them to munch on. Matia is the older sister of Calypso (L94) who is the mother to our newest L-pod baby, L121. That little flash of orange in the distance was L121!
Joy (L119) porpoising beside her mom, Matia (L77).
Calypso (L94) and L121 in the distance.
As Matia and Joy continued on we saw Ocean Sun (L25), the L47s, and Mystery (L85). They were heading north when Mystic (L115) turned and passed right off the bow, swimming just below the surface. Perhaps he was meeting up with his mom who was still south of us? That's my thought because it wasn't long before the two were grouped up side-by-side and heading north again past us. Muncher (L91) was just to the north of them and seemed to be in a foraging mode.
Mystic (L115) next to his mom, Marina (L47).
But the best was still yet to come. Here came the towering dorsal fin of one of my favorite L-pod males, Mystery (L85). He has a distinctive hook to the tip of his fin that makes him identifiable when he's approaching or heading away. It leans right. But he wasn't just going to pass by like any other whale----no! He was going to swim right under the boat where we could seem him beneath the surface and then give us a lazy tail lob as he headed off. Enjoy the moment on video. (Turn the sound down a little, and pardon my running around like a madman!)
Man, what a whale!
As we turned south we were treated to a wonderful visit with Calypso (L94) and her kids, Cousteau (L113) and L121. The newest member of L-pod was exuberant, porpoising and tail lobbing. It's so nice to see such spunk from a little whale and I'm hoping it continues to do well. We need all the new babies we can get!
Calypso (L94) with her youngest, L121.
It was the best possible finale. What a lovely evening!