June 9, 2015 - Something New Around Every Corner!

June 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The first of today's encounters started on the west side of San Juan Island around Eagle Point. Whales were spread out, with most pushed offshore but it seemed like everywhere you looked there was a whale. As we got on scene Doublestuf (J34) was foraging off the starboard side, coming up randomly and then diving for several minutes. He seemed intent on what he was doing but gave us a great look at him diving (hopefully after a fat salmon!) in front of the summit of Mt. Baker. It was beautiful!

Doublestuf (J34) beneath Mt. Baker.

Doublestuf (J34) beneath Mt. Baker.

Next we caught sight of a social group ahead of us and boy was it a mix of whales. We had members of J-pod and L-pod, including the L55s and Tsuchi (J31). But that group was about to get bigger! Here came Polaris (J28) and her daughter Star (J46), passing close off our starboard side as they joined the social group. Next came Alki (J36) and her new son, J52. They crossed across our bow and joined in. As the group traveled down island I spotted Cookie (J38), Eclipse (J41), and her young son J51. 

Playful orcas!

More playful orcas!

Alki (J36) with her son, J52.


As that group continued south at a leisurely pace another group surfaced right off our stern as we were shut down and watching the group further off. It was Onyx (L87) in hot pursuit of a female that looked to be Moonlight (L83). Her son Midnight (L110) was also with them.

Onyx (L87) "pursuing" Moonlight (L83).

Those three moved off quickly enough and as they did a pair surfaced a little ways off our starboard side. This was to be perhaps the sweetest moment of the day. It was Alki (J36) and her son J52 and they were in the middle of bonding. Little J52 was rolling all over his mom as she nudged him and spyhopped. It was beyond endearing.  

Bonding time between mom Alki (J36) and J52.

Bonding time between mom Alki (J36) and J52.

Bonding time between mom Alki (J36) and J52.

J52's belly as he rolls over on top of his mom.

As they moved off they joined up with another group...it was Marina (L47) and her kids, along with Oreo (J22), Princess Angeline (J17), Moby (J44), and Tsuchi (J31). While Marina (L47), Muncher (L91), and Mystic (L115) logged at the surface the others caught up and once they were there they grouped up briefly and headed off, angling towards some whales to the south. 

Marina (L47), Muncher (L91), and Mystic (L115) logging at the suface.

All grouped up!

As we headed away we paused briefly to see who the whales were still south of the others we had been with. It was Granny (J2) along with Onyx (L87), Blackberry (J27), Nigel (L95), Hy'shqa (J37) and her son T'ilem I'nges (J49). 

Nigel (L95) was hanging out with Granny (J2) and some other members of J-pod.

We bid goodbye to our friends and headed back south, pausing briefly to visit with a Minke Whale near Cattle Pass. 

Minke Whale foraging near Cattle Pass.

With that we found ourselves heading back towards the dock but our day wasn't over yet. Right as we were approaching Allan Island a large group of Ts were spotted ahead of us. They were ID'ed as the T137s and T046s. There were a couple other animals whose IDs are not confirmed, but the Center for Whale Research was out and should have them when they post about their own encounter with the group. It's possible that they are newer members of the T046 group, which hasn't been encountered for some time in the area. The last catalogue for our community of transients was published in 2012.

The whales were grouped up pretty close and travelling in the current lines. They had made a kill earlier before we arrived on scene but seemed content to rest and travel, passing by many harbor seals and porpoises. 

Swimming together in the late afternoon light.

T137 and her youngest.

T137A surfacing in front of T046E.

The transients ended up heading north in Rosario past Cypress Island before turning north into Bellingham Channel. It will be interesting to see if they are seen in the area tomorrow!

For more of today's photos please see the photo gallery created for the trip. Cheers!


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