With morning came the report that the J-Bs (J17s and J22s) were still in Saratoga Passage. It was unusual but there was a large herring spawn in progress and with the herring came the blackmouth (resident Chinook) so it wasn't too surprising that our intelligent orcas knew where to find food. I headed down to the dock bright and early and away we went. I wasn't sure we were going to head down south after the Js because that was a long haul but we decided to go for it. We rounded the corner and cruised beneath Deception Pass Bridge (what a treat!) and began our trek down Saratoga Passage.
By the time we caught up to them the whales had cruised into Holmes Harbor but despite the long haul it was so worth it! The whales were being extremely social and tactile. First Oreo (J22) spyhopped, showing off the freckles in her eye patch. Next it was Princess Angeline's (J17) turn. Then J53 spyhopped as mom and big brother, Moby (J44), rolled around together. I always love watching the whales interact with each other---I especially love these "cuddle sessions". You can just feel how bonded they are to each other when they do.
J53, Princess Angeline (J17), and Moby (J44) socializing.
Next it was time for the newest members of Jpod to really get in on the spyhop action. First J53 spyhopped again, surrounded by mom and siblings. Then J54 took a peek too. Then J53 spyhopped again! Those little faces peeking out were exceptionally cute to see!
On every trip it seems like there's always someone who asks "When do the whales breach?" or some variation of that. I understand the question, and I don't have a problem with that because most people (read: most) don't intend for it to come out sounding like they expect the whales to put on a show for them (Please note, wild whales do not put on shows. They do not perform. They are living their lives and we are just privileged enough to witness their natural behaviors.) This trip a pleasant young woman came to stand beside me right after all of the spyhop action and she said to me "Can you make them breach now?". I looked at her a bit dumbstruck. "Can I---make them?". I kindly explained that they are wild animals and I can't make them do anything. And no sooner had those words left my mouth then Star breached beside the boat three times in a row.
Young lady, you are not helping me make my point.
('I'm not here to help you make your point!' I imagine she said back to me. 'I'm here to breach!')
The woman was delighted, and no doubt now thinks I have some kind of mental mind control over the whales when really it was just an even better example of how they have a mind of their own and do what they want, whenever they want.
Star (J46) not helping me make my point.
After that all of the whales seemed to get into a social mood, complete with percussive behaviors. Polaris spyhopped as she passed the stern of the boat. Cookie (J38) did a half breach off the bow, while his older brother Doublestuf (J34) pec slapped off of our port side. Princess Angeline and J53 shared some time to bond together off our starboard side. The whales were everywhere we looked!
Polaris (J28) spyhops while Moby (J44) surfaces behind her.
J53 and Princess Angeline bonding.
Eventually we had to head back to home port but I was determined not to let my whale day be done. As soon as we docked I hopped in the car, grabbed a bite to eat, and drove back down Whidbey Island. By the time I arrived the whales were northbound again and I was able to watch them pass by Hidden Beach with a group of friends, new and old. They were further out, but it was still such a treat to be able to see them all grouped up in what appeared to be somewhat of a resting mode. They were still heading north when we lost sight of them wondering if they would still be around in the morning.
The brothers, Cookie (J38) and Doublestuf (J34), cruising north together.
Whales Present: J17, J28, J35, J44, J46, J47, J53, J54, J22, J34, and J38.