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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Whales on the westside - but who are they?

This morning a report came in of whales on the west side of San Juan Island, right where we might have expected L-Pod to show up after their travels yesterday. We kept receiving conflicting reports that it was either L-Pod or some transient orcas, and when we left the dock on the Western Explorer we still didn't know. But, we had a whale report, so we started heading in that direction.

Along the way we stopped to check out a couple of harbor seal haul outs. It was low tide so many of the low-lying reefs were covered with seals. (Note: today's photos were taken by Captain Ivan)

We also got several good looks at adult bald eagles, the coolest of which was an eagle on Spieden Island with a fish that was still flopping at its feet!

By the time we got on scene with the orcas part of the mystery had been solved - the whales in Haro Strait were definitely a group of seven transients. At first we got a nice look at the big male T87, who, along with a few other whales, has been spending a lot of time in the area over the last many weeks. Often, transients will just be in the area for a day or two and then move on, but these guys have been hanging around a lot - not that we mind one bit!

I heard from Jeanne that T87 was traveling with T124, T124D, and T124E, though we didn't get a great look at these whales ourselves. Instead, we headed offshore towards another group of three orcas - T88, T90, and youngster T90B. Here's the four year old T90B right behind mom T90:

On our way back to Friday Harbor we spotted some small groups of harbor porpoise, then made a last stop to check out the California sea lion that hangs out on the buoy in San Juan Channel. Since he's been there all spring and last spring as well we decided he needed a name. One of our passengers came up with Oscar, and I think that might just stick. So here's a picture of Oscar on his buoy:

In the end, the other part of the mystery - where was L-Pod? - was solved by a confirmed report of the whales heading west towards the open ocean out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Hopefully they are just going to get their compatriots and will be back soon!


Jeanne said...

Yea Monika you got pics of the other three and I got pics of the other 4! What a team!!

Love the name Oscar, does he have a brand? Could he be the same from last year???? Wouldn't that be interesting!

Monika said...

He does have a brand - #670 - same as last year! Isn't that cool?

Jeanne said...

His early summer vacation spot, eh?!

Unknown said...

Love the whale updates- I live on the east side and enjoy hearing about the pods! Thanks Jeanne

Monika said...

S.P. - Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoy the updates!

Unknown said...

Hey Monika,

I somehow stumbled upon your blog, and wanted to thank you for describing your local sea life so clearly to an uninformed Cali girl!

Your pictures were really cool, too. My compliments to the photographer!