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Monday, August 11, 2008

L12s in San Juan Channel

This morning on the Western Prince we heard the Southern Resident superpod had made their way as far north as Passage Island - way north of the northern arm of the Fraser River! We were afraid it might be a "no whale day" when Captain Ivan got a call about a potential transient report between Lopez and Shaw Islands. Then he got another call about 3 whales in San Juan Channel near Cattle Point. After picking up our charter, we raced down to catch up with what we assumed were transients. At first we just saw two whales, but then more fins appeared. Hmmm, these whales seemed to be awfully spread out for transients, and look at all those adult males! Definitely not transient-like. Then we saw the open saddle patch of Skana (L79) and we knew this was part of L-Pod. This was the first time I'd ever seen residents *in* San Juan Channel!

Here Mystery (L85) surfaces in front of Cattle Point Lighthouse at the southern tip of San Juan Island as the whales move out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He was traveling with Alexis (L12) and Skana (L79), a couple of whales I hadn't seen yet this year until the big superpod came in yesterday.

A little bit later Skana did a huge cartwheel!!

The glassy calm waters were beautiful this morning, which made it easy to spot this minke whale from maybe a mile away. Mega (L41) and his sister Calypso (L94) were foraging right near the minke. It was very neat to see these two species so close together. While we were stopped watching them, you could see hundreds of silvery bait fish under the water right next to the boat - probably why the minke was in that area. Jon Stern's minke research vessel was out on the water as well, so it would be interesting to find out which minke it was and how long it spent with the orcas.

It's so hard to catch a photo of the whales porpoising at their top speed of up to 35 mph, but this male came out of the water just as I was aiming my camera to take a photo so I got lucky!

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