Yesterday (Sunday), was another beautiful day out on the water in the San Juan Islands. It’s still summer here, hot and sunny, but there are signs of fall starting in the more northerly regions of the planet. Different birds species that breed and nest in the arctic regions are returning here in preparation for winter. Most notably (maybe just my favorites) are the phalaropes. These groups of birds are a little smaller than doves and hang around drifting mats of logs and kelp in open water. So we see them in small flocks are we go to the larger straits around the islands. But enough about birds let’s talk about whales!
Captain Gabe and I set out south yesterday with a boat full of wonderful folks. We headed along the west side of San Juan Island in search of the Southern Resident Orcas. These are the most famous ones around here. They eat salmon and there are three pods, J, K, and L! They are critically endangered (only 83 of them) and this year we’ve only seen them a few times because the salmon numbers are so low. So mostly we’ve been seeing Transient Orcas instead, but not this afternoon! As we passed Lime Kiln Lighthouse we started to see blows and soon found one family in particular about a quarter mile off of the shoreline. They were members of L pod and also had one of the new calves with them. It was the L47’s with the matriarch Marina (L47), her three children Moonlight (L83), Muncher (L91), and Mystic (L115), and she also has two grandchildren now! Midnight (L110) is the child of Moonlight and L122 who was born in September to Muncher. It was awesome to see a whole complete matriline and especially so close. The new baby L122 as well as the other young ones, Mystic and Midnight seemed pretty curious about us, so circled the boat to get some good surface glimpses of us. As we turned around to head back home we were super lucky because a few of the mothers in this family and a few younger ones breached a couple times as we headed back north! Another splashy day here in the islands. Until next time.