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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ls in Haro Strait

Aside from a 2-3 day absence (which we expect from time to time throughout the summer), the whales have continued to be around a lot. First thing this morning they were reported way out west, but luckily they were heading back east towards San Juan Island. This afternoon I was out on the Western Prince, and we headed south to see who we would meet up with down there.

On the way down San Juan Channel we saw a couple of harbor porpoise. In Cattle Pass there was a lot sea bird activity including Heermann's gulls, glaucous-winged gulls, a few mew gulls, lots of rhinoceros auklets, a couple rafts of common murres, and some groups of the tiny red-necked phalaropes. We also went over to Whale Rocks where we saw about 10 Steller sea lions. The Stellers returned for the winter early this year (they've been around since the last week of July!) but we expect to see more and more of them as we head into the fall. Look at those waves in front of the rocks! The currents were gnarly in the Pass today with the strong flood tide:

We met up with the orcas about a mile off of False Bay. They were very spread out, going on long dives as they foraged, so we would see one or two whales off the boat in one direction, then a couple off in another direction. We eventually just shut down and got some nice looks as they surfaced nearer to the boat.

Getting IDs of the whales proved challenging today, as there were some choppy waves and with the bright afternoon light sometimes the whales were silhouetted making it tough to see their saddle patches. The word was Js and Ks went north and mostly L-Pod whales were down south where we were, but you never know for sure until you see for yourself who is there! We spent quite a bit of time with the same two whales, but I'm still not 100% on their identities.

I was able to positively identify the L72 family group made up of L72 Racer and her two sons L95 Nigel and L105 Fluke. Before we started making our way home to Friday Harbor we got some great looks at Nigel. This 14 year-old male will probably start getting a taller dorsal fin in the next year or so:


Unknown said...

Luv your blog and the wonderful updates on ocean life activity! The wind has kicked up again today- thinking of you out there on the water. Happy whale watching :)

Monika said...

S.P. - Thanks! I'm definitely glad I wasn't out on the water today. It was pretty rough out there!