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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Partial Superpod

The big news in the whale world this week is that K-Pod came back into town on July 26th. They had only been seen in the inland waters once briefly so far this summer season, so we haven't had any full-fledged superpods (where all members of the Southern Resident Community are present) yet this season. As I've written before, the whales have been mixing and mingling into all sorts of unpredictable groups this summer, and today was no exception. We didn't see all the Southern Residents in once place, but we did have members of all three pods traveling together in Swanson Channel! What's this called, a partial superpod?

The first group we came upon was L27, the L55s, and the L86s (aka the L4s) - the family group in L-Pod with lots of females and juveniles but no adult males. These are whales that in years past I haven't gotten to see a lot of, but they've been hanging around a lot this summer. From left to right in the photo below is L27 Ophelia, L86 Surprise!, and her one year-old calf L112:

The whales were mostly in travel mode today, but L27 Ophelia did give a couple of tail slaps:

Someone asked the other day about L106 Pooka, and since I've posted a few photos lately of L86 and her youngest calf L112 I thought I would share that yes, the five year-old L106 has been there too! Here he is next to mom:

The only K-Pod whales I saw were K21 Cappuccino and his sister K40 Raggedy, who seem to have flipped back to traveling with J-Pod as they were earlier this summer rather than hanging with the rest of their K-Pod family members. From left to right in the photo below are J22 Oreo, K21 Cappuccino, and J34 Doublestuf:

K21 Cappuccino acquired a new notch on his dorsal fin since we last saw him, as indicated by the arrow below. People often ask how the whales get nicks and notches in their fins and the answer is we just don't know for sure. For the marine mammal feeding transient whales some of their wounds are surely inflicted by their prey (like Steller sea lions) that have big teeth and are apt to fight back, but for the fish-eating resident whales it's more of a mystery. Did they scrape on something, or get entangled in something? Occasionally the injuries look like they may be inflicted by other whales because sometimes there are teeth rake marks alongside the nick, but we never really witness full-out aggression between killer whales. So, Cappuccino, what have you been up to??

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