For any use of my photos, please contact me at monika.wieland (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, September 11, 2009

Superpod in Swanson Channel

After some cooler weather and rain throughout the first week of September we've returned to what feels like summer with clear skies, calm seas, and temperatures in the 70s on the island today. It was a beautiful day to get out on the water, and on the Western Prince we had a great encounter with all three pods up in Swanson Channel in the Canadian Gulf Islands.

The whales were in travel mode when we met up with them, and they were cruising north in several large, tight groups. I think we had nearly all the Southern Residents there (minus the L2s and L5s who were seen down south) so we potentially had as many as 75 whales there! Swanson Channel is a scenic place to watch whales with the cliffs of the Pender Islands in the background, and today the blue waters made for gorgeous photographic opportunities:

With all the confusion lately on who's been traveling with whom, I was extra careful with the IDs I made today, but with views like this one I was certain this time we had J1 Ruffles and J2 Granny there, the oldest male and oldest female. They are pictured here in the center of the photograph surrounded by the other whales they were traveling with. Notice the head of the whale in the foreground that hasn't yet broken the surface:

I wasn't sure who all they were traveling with until I got home, but it looks like they were with L7 Canuck and L53 Lulu (the honorary J-Pod members), the whole J14 family group, and the K12 family group. It's not often you can get a single picture with whales from all three fact I think today is the first time I've ever gotten a shot like that! From left to right we have L53 Lulu, L7 Canuck, J1 Ruffles, and K12 Sequim:

I love seeing the whales swim in such tight groups, when they are so close they may be touching one another. They were all surfacing in synchrony, so their striking black dorsal fins are partially obscured by the spray from their blows. It was a beautiful sight!

We didn't get any close looks at any of this year's calves, but they were in there! This shot was from far away, but clearly shows how a youngster briefly peaks over the surface right next to mom:

Finally, there had been some confusion about whether or not the L12s (a subgroup of L-Pod that often travels separately) were present, as they were originally the whales reported down south. I thought I saw them today, and this photo confirms it, showing L12 Alexis herself. She has two notches, one in the middle and one at the bottom of the trailing edge of her dorsal fin, which separates her from any other whale in J-, K-, or L-Pods. Click on the photo to see a larger version and see if you can spot her notches:

1 comment:

julie said...

lucky girl!