Today, the lucky number was 14.
We left the dock under sunny skies and not-yet-blistering heat. Whales had been spotted heading east near Victoria earlier and they were moving fast on the flood tide. With that in mind we headed through the inner islands through Thatcher Pass into Harney Channel, over the top of Lopez and Shaw and out through Pole Pass. As we headed west in Speiden Channel we got the word---there were whales up ahead!
The first whales we saw were tucked into shore off Henry Island heading east. I spotted Granny (J2) in the lead and not far behind was Samish (J14) and Se-Yi-Chn (J45). These two were both actively foraging and we spotted some quick direction changes and surface lunges. They were in hot pursuit! I hope they caught a huge chinook!
Se-Yi-Chn is getting so big! His dorsal fin has definitely gotten taller from when I first saw him in 2010. I can't wait to see what it looks like when he's full grown.
Samish (J14) foraging off the north side of Henry Island.
Se-Yi-Chn (J45) was foraging with his mom when we first got on scene.
Behind those two came the towering fin of Lobo (K26), which told me we had members of both the J14s and the K14s (see '14'!) in the area. Inshore from him were three other whales---Shachi (J19), her daughter Eclipse (J41), and her grandson J51. Eclipse and Shachi both were seen actively chasing a fish and even J51 was porpoising along with them. It was very cute to see. The three headed towards Battleship Island before cutting to the north.
All the whales were generally headed in that direction and so we did too. On our way we saw Yoda (K36) off our port side and Lea (K14) off in the distance. Onyx was behind us but moving in the same direction.
Onyx (L87) moving north offshore and behind us in Haro Strait.
Once the whales were moving up along the Stuart Island shoreline we found more of the J14s and K14s. Yoda was there and we also found Suttles (J40) and Se-Yi-Chn had grouped up and were actively chasing fish together. The whales paused briefly and then everyone turned and headed back south.
Suttles (J40) going after a fish.
Suttles (J40) and her little brother, Se-Yi-Chn (J45).
As they did Suttles decided to pop by for a quick visit.
Suttles (J40) rising to the surface right off our port side.
As we followed the whales we realized they were heading somewhere they don't normally go---they were pointed right for the topside of Speiden Island where they got serious about foraging. CWR (Center for Whale Research) says they haven't been seen in that spot for over 15 years! Wow! We caught glimpses of Hy'shqa (J37) and her son T'ilem I'nges (J49) heading over to meet up with Suttles and Se-Yi-Chn. In shore I spotted Kelp (K42) catching up to Yoda (K36) and his mom, Lea (K14).
We left them still on the north side of Speiden and later I heard they continued north towards East Point through Boundary Pass.
So, how did I come to lucky number 14, you might be wondering? We had the J14s and K14s. Additionally, if you add up all of the whales we saw today....
J2, J14, J37, J40, J45, J49, J19, J41, J51, L87
K14, K26, K36, K42
....you get 14 whales!
Lucky number 14.