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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bizarre Orange Algae(?) and Spread Out Ks and Ls

Today was the second day I observed a strange orange patch on the surface of the water. I'm assuming its some sort of algal bloom? Its very diffuse and cloudy looking, as you can see at the bottom of the photo. Both times I've seen this the patches have been in zig-zaggy lines maybe 10-15 yards long, and don't seem to penetrate more than a foot or two deep. Any ideas what this might be, anyone?

This afternoon on the Western Explorer we headed out toward Hein Bank where K-Pod, L-Pod, and perhaps a portion of J-Pod were spread out over several foraging. On the way out we stopped to check out a good sized bait ball of feeding birds, and one of our passengers spotted a separate little flock of birds that turned out to be my first red-necked phalaropes of the season. I was expecting them any day!

The whales were going on uncharacteristically long dives of up to 7 minutes, but we had the chance to check out several different small groups of 1-4 animals. At first we followed who I believe might have been K12 Sequim and K37 Rainshadow. There was a minke whale in the area with them, and at one point the minke surfaced within 100 yards of the orcas and just a second or two after they dove. You have to wonder what the two different cetacean species make of each other!

After watching K21 Cappucino and his sister K40 Raggedy swim by, we followed along big male L74 Saanich for a little while. He has such a broad dorsal fin:

It was a calm Pacific Northwest afternoon, with gray skies and flat calm waters, to the point where it was hard to differentiate the sky from the water. Do you see the horizon in the photo below? This is L100 Indigo, an eight year-old male who was travleing with his mom and younger brother:

It was beautiful lighting for watching the whales, but a bit hard for making out saddle patches to get IDs. We saw several little family groups like this one traveling together:

It was hard to leave as even when we started to make our way back towards Friday Harbor we would run into spread out groups of whales. The last ones we watched were the K14 family group (K14 Lea and her three offspring), including big male K26 Lobo, pictured below:

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

1 comment:

BuckMountain said...

Looks like red tide (which isn't always red). Probably Alexandrium catenella per