Today we took the Seahawk up north to boundary pass, aiming for Patos Island to follow some potential orca reports. J pod was reported moving southwards from Point Roberts this morning, returning from their trip to Canada yesterday where they spend the majority of their day miles up the Strait of Georgia. Killer whales regularly travel 100 miles a day, and based on their movement since last night they may make today a hundred mile day!
When we approached Patos Island a few whales had already started to trickle into Boundary Pass, aiming south towards the San Juans. In the front of the pod, leading travel, was none other than Granny herself, the oldest recorder killer whale at 105 years old this year and the matriarch of not only her family, but all of J pod. We followed alongside Granny for a while before the rest of her pod started to catch up. The first among them was Granny's adoptive son, L87 Onyx. Onyx was orphaned about 10 years ago when his mom died, and he's spent the last 6 traveling with J pod and, more often than not, clinging onto Granny.
Before we realized what was happening, the rest of J pod suddenly surrounded us on their way to catch up with Granny. They were porpoising, breaching, chin-slapping and tail-slapping all around us as they playfully moved south all together. We kept our position as the remainder of this 30-whale-strong pod passed ether side of our boat. We were awestruck and amazed. To watch the entirety of a pod travel and socialize and play together is truly a rare and special experience!
We slowly moved out of the area and around J pod to make our way back to Roche Harbor to enjoy a gorgeous sunny afternoon on San Juan Island.
Naturalist Sarah C.