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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Wildlife Hat Trick

Remember what I said yesterday about everything being "whale dependent"? I really didn't think the whales would come back today, but they did! And as a result my long to-do list for this afternoon got tossed aside and instead, after working in the office I hopped on the Western Prince as a tag-a-long.

We got some fantastic views of most of the L-Pod family groups, but one of the most memorable moments was hat I'll call a "wildlife hat trick". It's getting close enough to the hockey season, so I figure I can start using my sports analogies. In hockey, a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a game. It's often a phrase used by hockey fans to refer of three of anything that's relatively rare. Well, when we got out to the Salmon Bank marker and cut the engines, we could see maybe a dozen L-Pod whales, a minke whale, and a California sea lion - all at the same time!

The minke is the small one that's been hanging around a lot lately and has been designated "Ivan" by researcher Jon Stern after Captain Ivan of our very own Western Prince. It turns out its a juvenile that's just been born this year! The California sea lion was swimming around the Salmon Bank marker, and I was hoping it would jump up onto the buoy but no such luck.

While Ls were off the south end of the island, and actually off Lopez Island when we were with them, Js and Ks had headed up north past Turn Point. Usually, once they get this far they keep going north, but today they faked like they were going up Swanson, then deked like they were going Boundary (there are those hockey analogies again), then turned and came back south! So, when we got back to port, I grabbed a snack and headed to the west side where my timing was perfect to see Js and Ks heading south from Lime Kiln. They were in one large group offshore, they were very active, and it was cool to hear how loud their blows were as they surfaced in the very calm, very gray water. It actually started raining again this afternoon, but conveniently not while I was on the boat or for the few minutes when the whales passed the lighthouse.

I didn't have my camera on the boat because I wasn't expecting to be going out, but I did have my camera at the lighthouse. Like I said, they were kind of far offshore, but here's a backwards breach:

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