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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Welcomed home

After a fantastic five week trip to Alaska, where I saw loads of wildlife but no killer whales, I was more than ready to see the orcas that have been spending a lot of time around the San Juan Islands over the last month while I've been gone. I got off the ferry Friday afternoon, unpacked, and went to the westside where I arrived just at the same time as part of J-Pod. I saw them from shore again yesterday, and then today had my first trip back with Western Prince. Three days at home, and three orca sightings - not so bad! After not seeing orcas in Alaska it makes me realize how lucky we are to have the orcas hanging around so often here.

Today we didn't have to go far to meet up with part of L-Pod off of Lopez Island. The first whale we saw was L41 Mega:

He was traveling in a group with his younger sister L94 Calypso and her young calf L113, as well as the older female L25 Ocean Sun that is often with them. There were other members of L-Pod further to the north and perhaps they were in a hurry to meet up with them because soon after we arrived they started picking up speed. Here is one of my favorite photos of the day of the baby L113 surfacing in perfect synchrony with mom:

A little later on we also had good looks at L7 Canuck and L53 Lulu. These two whales have an interesting story because they have spent much of the last three summers with J-Pod, though they have been sticking with other Ls so far this year. L53 gave us a couple of fantastic breaches:

As if the great afternoon with the whales weren't enough, on the way back towards Friday Harbor in addition to a few flocks rhinoceros auklets, two bald eagles, and a bunch of harbor seals foraging in the currents of Cattle Pass, we saw a tufted puffin! I saw lots of puffins in Alaska but puffins are a pretty rare sighting in the San Juans, so it was a very exciting find.


Whidbey Woman said...

Welcome home! I had so much fun following your journey to Alaska. Some day I hope to get up there!!
We have had a lot of whale activity since you've been gone. There's even a new baby. So exciting. I plan to go on a tour next month. Wish I had my own boat, I'd be out every weekend!!!!

Warren Baker said...

Straight back to it then monika, I wish I had your energy! :-)

Monika said...

Whidbey Woman - I'm glad you enjoyed it! I had been following the Orca Network reports and it sounds like all sorts of crazy things have been going on with pods splitting up, etc. It looks like it will be a good season.

Warren - No rest for the weary! It was tough enough to get the vacation time during our peak season. At least my "work" involves whale-watching!