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Sunday, July 23, 2017

7-23-17 J and L Pod Whales First Time This Year

Sunday, July 23rd
...yesterday, I happened upon this image from a few years ago...the orcas and gulls...and you know I have been watching for gulls that haven't been around much on the west side (a designated section only)...what had been common in the past just wasn't this year...and that means the lack of sightings of the Southern Residents and gulls and all kinds of things...so I started watching for gull activity, etc - hence the image...
...this morning when I went scanning I could see and hear gulls down island, much more activity than I had seen this year...yesterday in the mid-afternoon I heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones one little squeak...immediately I went into orca-mode (whatever that is!) but didn't hear anything else the rest of the day...
...well, L Pod whales were seen off the lower west side in the early morning this morning (so I wonder if the hydrophones had picked them up briefly from a great distance-will never know)...and then J Pod whales were spotted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, coming in, but they would take a while to get to the west side of the island...
...in the morning there were only a few L Pod whales who started coming up island...some of the L4s - Nugget L-55, Lapis L-103, Lazuli L-123, Surprise L-86...here's a few of them...

...a couple hours later J Pod entered Haro Strait and their calls could be heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...and of course, the L Pod whales could hear them too...there was no rush toward one another...some of the J Pod whales soon began angling toward the west side and the lighthouse...and here's who arrived first and 7 minutes ahead of any of the others...

...behind Shachi were some moms and their little ones...and it was a riot trying to figure out who was who - bright, glaring sunshine didn't help either...
Kiki J-53, Scarlet J-50, Sonic J-52, and their moms plus a few others were moving about so erratically you might have thought there were 4 or 5 little guys!...but there weren't...tried finding Eclipse J-41 and Nova J-51...saw them later in the day but not in this moms/kids early up island group...
...and soon they turned and went back down island...Shachi did too.  I remember seeing this occurring with Granny sometimes too (I called it flexibility as a leader!)...
...Soundwatch was out there heading off private boats before they got into the whales...thanks Soundwatch!  You don't get the kudos you deserve for all the hard work you do for the whales.

...soon the whales came back up island and socialized along Land Bank and Lime Kiln Pt. State Park...It is the first time since September 2016 that these J and L groups have been together in these waters!
...it was so busy with whales you didn't know which way to look next...they were definitely into socializing big time!


...they 'stayed and played' for a good while and then went back down island again...yes, again...
...and when they came back up Js and the Ls were all mixed together....it was now after 4pm and this time they would continue up island...the tide had changed to a flood and some of the whales just went with the flow, allowing the current to carry them along...others zoomed on by...


 ...as the last of the whales were going north I noticed the gulls...
...all the family groups of J Pod were present plus Onyx L-87 and the L Pod whales who were present were the L26s, L72s, L4s, and L47s...of the Ls I didn't see everyone of them but some members of each of the families...

...they looked very energetic, more interested in social time than foraging time...though what orca would pass up Chinook salmon if they saw some!

...they went north in the evening, perhaps to the Fraser River maybe to feast or to check it out...they'll be back down...just when is what we want to know...
...always on the lookout...even in my sleep!

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