When my friend Monika invited me on a sunset trip I had to leap at the opportunity. I have been pining for sunset whales for some time and I wasn't going to let this chance pass me by. So off I went to Friday Harbor where we slipped into the super sexy mustang suits and boarded the Western Explorer.
The same whales that have been around for the past week or so (J-pod, Group A and the K14s) were off the west side and heading south in a hurry. On our way out we stopped for a quick but excellent look at a couple of minke whales that were foraging off of Salmon Bank. We continued north but we didn't have to go far before the evening light began illuminating the blows of our orca friends.
The first whales we saw were Hy'shqa (J37) and her young son, T'ilem I'nges (J49). This young male was the last baby to be born and survive before we welcomed our four new babies. He'll be three years old this year! He's growing up so quickly. I've noticed it a little recently but tonight especially so that his dorsal is starting to look a lot like his mother's.
T'ilem I'nges, which means "Singing Grandchild" is Coast Salish, will be three years old this year.
The two were doing some serious foraging, as were the others. There were a lot of direction changes and some quick movements as they actively chased a salmon.
Next up we saw Granny (J2), Yoda (K36) and Lobo (K26). Inshore was Eclipse (J41) and her young son, J51. With them was Shachi (J19). J51 was being very independent as his mother foraged but seemed quick to rejoin her at a moment's notice.
Eclipse (J41) and J51.
The three members of the J19s foraged between Eagle Cove and Pile Point and when we moved off they were once again trending north---but who knows if that will hold. (Only they do!)
As the sun began to really set we moved off to the south to see Lobo again. He was foraging offshore near Salmon Bank and was with a few other whales, including his younger sister Yoda. But there was another surprise in the mix. Across our bow came Tsuchi (J31) who I haven't seen for at least a week. We didn't see her brothers, Blackberry (J27) and Mako (J39) but I'd imagine they're probably around somewhere.
Tsuchi (J31) passing by.
We got our last looks at Lobo and Yoda as the sky seemed to explode in brilliant pinks and oranges. It was truly a magical night. The whales were continuing to push further offshore when we left and it will be interesting to see who is in tomorrow and where they show up!
Yoda (K36) heading off into the sunset.
Lobo (K26) pushing off shore.