I had heard rumors that the missing L-Pod whales discussed a few posts ago had been seen in the west end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (hence no panic as to their well-being), but simply had not been "in" to the San Juans yet this year. Yesterday, I heard a large group of Ls had come in, but they met up with Js and Ks in the middle of the straits and I feared that they were all going to go "out" for the third Thursday night in a row.
That all changed this morning. I was on-call for work, and got the call to come hop on the boat. We headed north, since we had heard that all the whales (for the first time this summer, all 87 whales together again!) had headed up that way late last night. The first report was of Js at the coal docks heading north - far away and heading the wrong direction. Then a call about whales maybe seen at Lummi Island, so we checked out some harbor seals and bald eagles off in that direction. Then - yes! Whales coming south down Bellingham Channel. It took us 90 minutes to get there, but we got to see a large group of L-Pod off the south end of Cypress Island. It's so nice to see all those young adult male's tall dorsal fins out there again. All the whales were active with lots of cartwheels, tail slaps, and a few breaches for good measure - hopefully a sign they're getting enough to eat if they can be that exuberant! The closest group we got to parallel was none other that L74 and the L54s - some of the "missing links", so I got my confirmation that they are indeed back.
The above photo of L100 (a member of the L54s) was taken last summer off Lime Kiln Lighthouse. It was unusual to see that family group so close to shore, as they are often out in the ocean more than some of the other Ls.