Today, Captain Gabe and I took a super enthusiastic group out on the M/V Seahawk! We headed south along the west side of San Juan Island to look for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. These are the salmon eating ones that live in the north pacific and usually spend much of the summer inside the Salish Sea since salmon have to make their way through to find the rivers that they were born in. This year is a historically low salmon year so we have not seen the residents that much this summer, but they came into the Salish Sea early this morning! As we exited Mosquito Pass we soon saw our first orca! It was Granny (J2) the oldest known living orca at around 105 years old. Since orcas are matriarchal it is speculated that she has some authority in all three pods not just in here matriline the J2’s. Today, she was where she normally is found at the front of the group leading everyone on the search for salmon. All the orcas in this group were travelling pretty fast north and stopping occasionally to catch salmon. After Granny we saw Shachi (J19) and then the J-16’s: Slick (J16), Mike (J26), Alki (J36), Echo (J42), and Scarlett (J50), and Sonic (J52). This family is pretty great, especially with their two small ones Scarlett and Sonic who follow their mothers Slick and Sonic closely. Mike (J26) a big adult male breached a few times right as he passed us which was super cool. What was even cooler was that far, far off in the distance looking south there was another resident orca probably from a different pod breaching in response (You could see the splashes in the sun glare). We eventually rounded Henry Island with these whales and had another group pass us, completing J pod Subgroup A! Just as we were about to leave a Minke Whale popped up! Right in the midst of them, probably trying to feed too! Yay Whales! We soon headed for home not before we got to see a Bald Eagle and some Harbor Seals! Whale folks, until next time, have a San Juanderful day!

 

Naturalist Erick

M/V Seahawk

San Juan Outfitters

Baby Orca

either J50 or J52 of J pod in the Southern Residents peeks above the surface