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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Keepin' Us Guessing

With all the whales in the area split up into several groups, we never know what's going to happen next. As we always say on the Western Prince, as soon as we think we've figured out their pattern, they throw a wrench into it and do something completely different. The last few days have been no exception.

For instance, that large group of Ls I posted about seeing yesterday somehow disappeared between the morning and the afternoon. In the afternoon, boats were seemingly following the same group of whales, but only had part of J-Pod, and Ls were no where to be found. This morning, a large group of Ls was seen heading west out the Strait of Juan de Fuca so they must have still been around somewhere nearby yesterday afternoon - I still think it's so cool that ~30 whales can completely disappear in an area where lots of boats are looking for them.

Speaking of "part of J-Pod", J-Pod hardly ever splits up! Last year for one day the J16 subgroup separated from everyone else for the rest of the day, but this group of Js has been apart from the others for three days now. On this morning's trip, I got to take a look at them as this group myself as they were heading in from the west towards False Bay on San Juan Island. It looks like all the J16s are involved again, also with the J14s, and an older female, J8, all together totaling 9 whales. It was my first good look of the season at Riptide, J30, who's dorsal fin is huge! It's cool to see since over the years I've been watching him grow from the 3' dorsal fin of a juvenile up to his fully adult 6' fin now. The above photo is of the J14 family group two years ago. Riptide is the tallest fin on the left - his fin has probably grown between one and two feet taller since then!

When we left, the whales were heading north, and the amazing thing is that we heard that the rest of Js had split off from Ks and the other Ls to head down Boundary Pass to meet them! What I want to know is - how did they know where to swim to meet up with the other Js? Direct communication seems unlikely with all those miles and several islands between them. Did they decide three days ago when they split up when and where to meet again? It's yet another one of those mysteries that these marvelous animals keep secret.

UPDATE 7/20 AM - I guess all the whales came down Boundary Pass, but the northern Js turned and went north again before meeting up with the rest of their pod! My goofy theory is that J8, Spieden, has decided she's waited long enough to take over a leadership role from J2, Granny, so she's rebelling and taking the J14s and J16s with her!

1 comment:

The K said...

The heading on your posting, Keepin' Us Guessing, is what stuck in my mind when I came across an article about blue whale calls today in the NY Times. I figured you might be interested in other whale call topics. The topic here shows how whales again are keepin' us guessing.