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Friday, August 1, 2008

Foggy Morning with Js

This morning on the Western Prince we departed Friday Harbor with a report of an unidentified group of orcas heading north near Eagle Point. It was foggy as we headed out through Cattle Pass and started heading north.

With visibility of about 300 yards, it was a surprise when a tall dorsal fin came piercing through the water off our port side - heading back south towards us! We cut our engines as whales started to appear on all sides of us. The water was so glassy calm in blended in with the foggy gray skies, and the captain dropped the hydrophone in the water. S1s and S7s - it must be J-Pod! How cool: it was one of the few times where I get to identify the pod by the unique sounds of their repertoire before getting a good look at any saddle patches to confirm who I was seeing.

My identification was soon confirmed, however, when Polaris (J28) pulled offshore and passed right by us. She's the one in the photo above with the distinct tear in the middle of her dorsal fin. Swimming just on the other side of her was Talequah (J35), her younger sister.

For the next 45 minutes we got nice looks at two of J-Pod's young males, Mike (J26) and Blackberry (J27). Their family members were around as well as they mingled and foraged, giving us several opportunities to drop the hydrophone on this quiet morning and listen to their clear vocalizations with little to no background noise.

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