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Monday, July 27, 2009

K-Pod and L-Pod Sunset Trip

Tonight we had a rare evening charter aboard the Western Prince, and if this is what sunset trips are normally like we should do more of them because it was fantastic! Glassy calm waters, golden yellow skies, and, of course, fantastic whales.

We met up with K-Pod and at least part of L-Pod off the southwest side of Lopez Island. The whales were spread out and with the flat waters small groups could be seen all over the place. Many groups were active, and we were seeing lots of breaches and tail slaps. I missed photogrpahing the first five breaches we saw, but then I captured this unbelievable shot...I don't think I have ever seen a whale completely clear the water like this:

Here's a tail wave from the same little group of orcas. L72 Racer was in this group, but with the backlighting it was tough to get any other IDs:

We followed alongside L79 Skana for a little while, and got several great looks at him. With the big males you always get a "tip" (literally) of where they are going to come up since you start to see the top of their dorsal fin before they surface. It allows one as a photographer to get shots like these, where his blow is just starting to erupt from his blowhole:

What came next was truly amazing. We got a look at ALL of K-Pod traveling in one tight group together. In my photos I was actually able to ID every single whale of the pod - all 19 members of K-Pod plus honorary K-Pod member L87 Onyx. I have seen J-Pod travel in one close group like this before but I believe this is the first time I've ever seen Ks do this. It was breath-taking to watch so many dorsal fins come to the surface one after another after another.

From left to right are K13 Skagit with son K3 Cali and K40 Raggedy with brother K21 Cappuccino.

K22 Sekiu with K27 Deadhead

L87 Onyx

I shot enough close-up photos to get IDs of everyone, and then I tried to zoom out a bit to capture the sight of so many whales surfacing in a line together. The late afternoon lighting and lack of wind left the blows visible and hanging in the air, which just added to the scene:

We followed the whales all the way back to Cattle Pass, our route back home. We got one last look at them as they headed north past Cattle Point Lighthouse:

Did you join us on this or another trip with Western Prince? We always appreciate your reviews on Trip Advisor.


Unknown said...

i love the pics so awesome!!!

Vera said...

What an unbelievable breach! Imagine the energy that went into that. Great photos, as usual.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika. Cracking pics - what a trip! For your crossbills you need to go uout with a birding buddy and learn the calls of the fly-over finches etc from them.



Warren Baker said...

makes me want to be there Monika! Wish we had some ''calm'' here. :-)

julie said...

i'm dying, monika! i'm dying! i need to be there NOW!!!!

thanks for the amazing views even if it is killing me...


Monika said...

Thanks Tim!

Vera - I know, I was telling people on board to imagine how fast he/she must have been swimming towards the surface to get that high!

Dave - Thanks for the tip on the crossbills.

Warren - Unfortunately with our "calm" has come some pretty intense heat! You do need some calmer weather in your neck of the woods though.

Julie - Hang in there, you're coming back in September and they'll be here then!

Jeanne said...

The most spectacular shot - clearing the surface of the water like that! You know just the right moment to capture your awesome images!