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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ks, Ls, and an Electrical Storm

On this overcast morning we set off for our first trip on the day on the Western Prince with a charter from the St. Mary's Marine Science School from Australia. We didn't have a whale report when we left the dock, but since the whales headed north last night we figured they would be picked up soon. Sure enough, we were not far from the harbor when we heard there were whales heading south in Rosario Strait.

It was a bit of a foggy morning, and if its not totally socked in I love to see the islands in the fog:

We picked up a small group of whales and as we hung out watching them they seemed indecisive as to which way to go. It sounded like the large group of whales had split and were taking different channels south. The group we were with was just off the north end of Cypress Island, and kept moving back and forth along the shoreline, at one point stopping to play in a kelp bed and surface with fronds draped over their dorsal fins and tails. Finally, they decided to head south down the east side of the island, and that's when we got a close enough look at a few of them to determine that K21 Cappuccino and his sister K40 Raggedy were in the group. Viewing the orcas in Rosario Strait is one of the most beautiful places in the islands to see them:

For this afternoon's public trip we headed south to meet up with the whales again off the west side of Lopez Island. The L2 family group was leading the way, and we saw L2 Grace with her sons L78 Gaia and L88 Wavewalker. Regular blog readers may remember that a couple of Sundays ago we had a close encounter with Wavewalker...well the same thing happened again this Sunday! We were paralleling along side of him when all of a sudden he veered closer and gave us a nice look at his left side:

A little later we were viewing K11 Georgia, who is the oldest female in K-Pod at an estimated age of 76, and L87 Onyx, who spends most of his time with K11 and family since his mother died a few years ago. While we were watching the two of them, Wavewalker snuck up behind us again and this time passed showing us his right side. I just happened to have the camera pointed in the right place at the right time when he appeared and got this cool sequence of shots of him surfacing:

After Wavewalker passed us by, we saw some more of K11's family group, including her son K25 Scoter, her daughter K20 Spock, and her grandson K38 Comet. It's really great to see Spock and Comet traveling with the rest of their pod again, as a month ago was that strange incident where they were the only two resident whales in the area, separate from the rest of their family, which is something I had never seen before.

The other strange thing that happened today is we got caught in an electrical storm. We don't get many thunderstorms out here, but we had some rain and thunder last night with the prediction for potentially more this evening. I can't call what we experienced today a thunderstorm, however, because while it was raining there was no thunder or lightning. The first thing we experienced was one of our passengers getting a strong electric shock from one of the hand rails. Then someone noticed that everyone's hair was standing straight up, like it does with any type of static electricity. When the antenna on top of the boat started buzzing we knew something weird was really going on. Captain Hobbes had us all go either inside or under the cover of the back seating area and turned off all the ship's electronics. Thankfully, it passed within a few minutes and no lightning strikes were seen, but it was a very bizarre (and a little scary) thing to witness!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Mi Monika - the lack of comments must mean everyone is over-awed with your sightings at the moment. As for the bizarre electricals I once experienced something similar when rock climbing with sparks coming off the rockface every time we went to get a hold - ouch! Thanks v.much for the photo ID, the final out come wasa pair off basking sharks.

The K said...

Glad your battery was charged again because the photos are great. The railing shock, hair standing on end, and antenna buzzing are definite signs that a lightning strike is imminent. Pretty scary I would imagine. Good that all went well.

Monika said...

Dave - I hope everyone is enjoying the recent posts whether they're commenting or not! Wow, that must have been scary while rock climbing...I'm glad we didn't see any sparks! No problem on the me to look into basking sharks a bit; they would sure be cool to see!

The K - Yes, I don't think that battery snafu will happen again for some time. Luckily we didn't see any lightning at all, but now I know the signs and have read more about the precautions to take if it ever happens again.

Heather said...

The pictures are lovely, Monika, but that bit about the electrical storm is just freaky! That must have been pretty scary. Glad no lightning struck. Just out of curiosity, what kind of precautions can you take if it were to happen again?
You be careful out there!

Brickner said...

Dear Monika,
We were on the afternoon trip on July 12. It was the first time that our kids had seen whales and it was fantastic!! Thank you so much for posting the pictures. San Juan Island was the first day of a fourteen day trip and the kids spent time looking at your book, Orca Encounters, as we drove through ORegon and Washington trying to identify the whales that we saw. Thanks again.
The Brickners

Monika said...

Brickners - I'm so glad you enjoyed the trip as much as I did! It was a unique one for sure. It's great to hear that it started your trip off on the right note and that the kids enjoyed the book so much! Thanks for commenting to let me know.