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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Double Dose of L-Pod

Yesterday I worked two trips on the Western Prince and we saw L-Pod off the southwest side of San Juan Island on both trips. L-Pod, at about 40 whales, is the largest of the three Southern Resident pods and often splits up into two or more smaller groups. The L12 sub-group are the ones that I've had the chance to spend the most time with over the last several years as they usually spend more time in inland waters than the rest of L-Pod. I really enjoyed yesterday's trips because we got to spend some quality time with some different L-Pod families that we don't often get to see a lot of.

In the morning we had a charter and the sun was shining. As we left the dock we suspected the whales were along the west side of the island but we didn't know for sure. We pulled out into the straits just as another boat found some whales further to the north, but we knew they could be more. As we cruised along we were excited to find about 15 whales just south of False Bay. Included in the group were, from left to right, L27 Ophelia, L86 Surprise, and her one year old calf L112:

For the afternoon trip the clouds had moved in a bit which was actually beautiful because the waters were glassy calm and perfect for stunning reflections, as seen in this photo of a glaucous-winged gull:

We had seen some tight groups of whales swimming together in the morning, and they were a little more spread out this afternoon. A couple of the first whales we came across were L55 Nugget and her seven year-old daughter L103 Lapis:

We also saw the two brothers L95 Nigel (14 years old) and L105 Fluke (six years old) who were swimming closely together and seemed quite playful.

Several times they were swimming upside down waving their tails in the air, and we also had a big breach from Fluke:

On both trips, we saw lots of harbor seals, nesting double-crested cormorants, and several bald eagles flying overhead on the way back home to Friday Harbor after seeing the whales. Good stuff!


Julie said...

Nice! I miss it there already... but it was great to run into you at land bank and catch up a little in person. I saw your car at Lime Kiln on Sunday before we headed to the ferry, catching one last orca pod going by fairly close to the lighthouse. What a great start to summer!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Bet it feels good to be back on the water and straight on to your orcas too! now not so much footy on telly we can concentrate on orca-cam and look forward to that 'armchair' tick.
Great road trip you hsad - where you plannin on goin next year?

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful photos, Monika! Love the Orcas and the cool shot of the gull. Sounds like you had a great day.

VĂ­ctor Aramayo said...

Although I usually work with small animals is very interesting to study the higher vertebrates such as orcas.

Best wishes