After seeing only part of J-pod earlier in the spring it was a welcome surprise to wake-up to the news that the entire pod (including tagalong Onyx (L87)) had come in during the night.
We departed Snug Harbor late in the afternoon and our timing would prove to be fortuitous. The whales had moved steadily north and were in Swanson Channel heading towards Active Pass. The first whales we caught up with were none other than the J17s and J22s as they passed the ferry terminal on North Pender Island. Oreo (J22) was swimming closely with her two boys, Doublestuf (J34) and Cookie (J38). Not far away swam the J17s---Princess Angeline (J17) with Moby (J44) and her youngest daughter, J53, Polaris (J28) with Star (J46) and J54, and Tahlequah (J35) with Notch (J47). Eventually the two groups joined together and Doublestuf surfaced alongside Polaris and J54.
Princess Angeline (J17), J53, Moby (J44), and Polaris (J28) passing the ferry terminal.
Doublestuf (J34), J54, and Polaris (J28).
We skirted ahead after visiting with them to see who the group of whales just ahead was and it turned out it was the J14s. This was my first time seeing them this year and it was a welcome visit indeed (especially getting to see my favorite little whale, Suttles (J40))! Hy'shqa was traveling closely with her son, T'ilem I'nges (J49), and just behind them was Samish (J14) with her other two kids, Suttles (J40) and Se-Yi-Chn (J45).
Hy'shqa (J37) with T'ilem I'nges (J49) and Samish (J14).
Continuing up the line we found the J16s, another group I hadn't seen this year yet. Alki (J36) was traveling with her son, Sonic (J52) and big brother, Mike (J26). Just a little ways ahead of them was Slick (J16), Echo (J42), and Scarlet (J50).
It's always a treat to see the whales in Active Pass. The scenery is gorgeous and much like the name the whales seem to get active more times than not when skirting through it. This would be my first time ever seeing them head through in person and I was thrilled beyond words! We scooted up to the mouth of the pass as the J11s were just reaching it. Tsuchi (J31), Mako (J39), and Blackberry (J27) lingered briefly before entering. Blackberry spyhopped twice and then the three shot into the pass as if given some unheard signal from the others. Perhaps Granny (J2) and Onyx (L87) along with Shachi (J19) and her family who had been seen by other boats had already gone into the pass and were telling them to hurry and catch up? We'll never know but it certainly looked like they were waiting for something.
Blackberry (J27) spyhops while Mako (J39) continues north towards the pass.
As they pushed through we could see more whales just rounding the corner into the pass. Slick and Scarlet came through with the rest of the family hot on their flukes. It was a parade of whales as the rest of them entered the pass seemingly all at once.
Slick (J16) and 16-month old Scarlet (J50) in the pass.
Cousins Notch (J47) and Star (J46) in the pass, side by side.
Doublestuf and Cookie seemed to be enjoying the currents as they splashed and lunged in different directions. At one point Doublestuf pulled a quick direction and headed back into the middle of the pass. With the current ripping the whales flew through and they seemed to be enjoying it.
Doublestuf (J34) making a quick change of direction.
The J17s seemed to stay on the north side of the pass after entering and to see them surfacing against the beautiful backdrop was really amazing. After the two boys settled down they followed mom, Oreo, and the J17s through.
Princess Angeline (J17) and her youngest daughter, J53.
Brothers Doublestuf (J34) and Cookie (J38) hugging the shoreline.
As we neared the east end of the pass we caught up again with the J16s and saw the J14s in the distance as they porpoised past the ferry terminal. Mike cruised past us, still swimming closely with sister, Alki and nephew, Sonic.
Hy'shqa (J37) porpoising past the ferry termianl.
As the whale exited we got one last visit with the J17s as Princess Angeline cruised close by with J53. Once clear we bid farewell to them and continued south through the Belle Chain Islets as we headed back for Snug Harbor.