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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wildlife at the Light

Between work and everything else that has been going on, I haven't spent nearly as much time out at Lime Kiln State Park as I usually do in the summer. I've made a point this week to start changing that, and have been rewarded with seeing some of the great wildlife that the park has to offer. This afternoon I headed out there, and while it was warmish and sunny with clear skies in town, the west side of the island was still partially enshrouded in fog with a chilly breeze.

Some of the whales that went north yesterday were making their way back south this afternoon and while I was waiting for them to arrive I watched the pelagic cormorants, rhinoceros auklets, and gulls. This Heermann's gull swooped down to catch one of the numerous bait fish:

When the whales started passing by it was difficult to figure out who was there because they were so back lit, but by looking at my photos I was able to determine some of who was there. J1 Ruffles and J2 Granny were in the lead group with some other Js, and behind them were several of the K-Pod family groups. Since I was in Alaska when K-Pod made their other brief appearance this summer, this is the first time this year I had seen some of these whales! It's always a bit like reuniting with old friends, and you get to see all the members of the family and see who has grown or changed since last year.

It's a bit unusual for K-Pod to have been gone this long during the summer months. Where have they been, do you ask? Well, for the most part we don't know, but a couple of weeks ago they were seen offshore of the Queen Charlotte Islands off central British Columbia, which is about as far north as the Southern Residents have been documented. Usually they roam the open ocean from the Queen Charlottes to as far south as Monterey, California in the winter months, and spend most of the summer in the inland waters, so it's a mystery as to why K-Pod has been away so long in June and July.

Anyway, as some of the K-Pod whales started passing by they picked up speed, and here is K14 Lea porpoising:

She was flanked by two of her offspring, the adult male K26 Lobo and her two year-old son K42 Kelp, who were also both swimming at high speed:

Next came the K13 family group, and while they were swimming by a sea lion popped up swimming the other direction! We don't see many sea lions between mid-May and mid-September when most of them are at their breeding rookeries, but this one looked like a juvenile Steller sea lion so was probably too young to be at the breeding colony:

There was a big gap between groups of whales and during that time the fog moved back in to hug the shoreline. It started to get much colder and the visibility was reduced to 50 yards or less over the water, so with little hope of seeing any whales in the near future I decided to head home and warm up. I didn't have to retreat far from the sea to be back in sunshine and blue skies, but as I drove down San Juan Valley the fog was moving inland from False Bay:


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Quite familiar with those seamists here and boy can it go chilly when they roll in!!

Great gull pic there Monika



Wildlife Photography said...

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Wildlife Photography said...
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