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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The K11 Family in Front of Mt. Baker

This afternoon on the Western Explorer we headed to the southern end of the Strait of Georgia where J-Pod, K-Pod, and a large portion of L-Pod were spread out and very slowly heading south. We met up with the southwestern-most group, which turned out to be the K11 family group in K-Pod.

I love seeing the K11s because there are four living generations of whales in it:
K11 Georgia - 76 year-old great-grandmother
K13 Skagit - 37 year-old daughter of K11
K20 Spock, K25 Scoter, K27 Deadhead, K34 Cali - Four offspring of K13
K38 Comet - Son of K20 Spock, and great-grandson to K11 Georgia

When we arrived they were in resting formation, barely moving anywhere from one dive to the next, but coming to the surface all together. I love it when you see so many dorsal fins together in a tight group. From left to right are K20 (barely visible), K11, K34, K25, K27:


One of our passengers commented on how the whales always surface in synchrony. It's something we see a lot of when an immediate family group is all together; they all dive and surface in unison, a sign of their life-long bonds. When I first looked at the photo below, I thought there were two whales in it, but there are in fact three. On the left there are two dorsal fins almost perfectly lined up with one another. Click on the photo to see a larger version:


Captain Hobbes did a fantastic job of setting up the perfect photo-op with Mt. Baker in the background. On several surfacings we had all the whales surface right "in front" of the mountain. Beautiful! The two big fins in the picture below are K25 Scoter, a young male with a fairly short fin, and K20 Spock, a young female with an esepcially tall fin. They're almost the same size! Spock was mistaken for a young male with a growing dorsal fin until "he" came back five years ago with a calf!


You definitely have to click on this photo for a larger view to do it justice. It's a shot of the whales, Mt. Baker, AND our other boat, the Western Prince, all nicely lined up:

5 comments:

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Didn't realise Mt Baker had snow all year round. Been higher (just) but on the equator so no snow there. No chance of me climbing it now much as I'd like to...looks awesome with those orcas beneath. Great evocative photo.

cheers

Dave

Warren Baker said...

Monika,
Is the air there as cool and clean as it looks - I can just feel it now.

Monika said...

Dave - Several of the Cascade Mtns have snow year round. Baker gets the most snow of all of them.

Warren - Yes, the air here is cool and clean!

Scott Veirs said...

That is indeed a fantastic line up, Monika. Bravo! Now you just need to get a Baker breach like Val did!

Monika said...

Scott, It's not quite as good as Val's, but I did get one of the coveted Mt. Baker breach shots last fall:
http://orcawatcher.blogspot.com/2008/10/when-stars-align.html