As we get into October, it's typical for the Southern Residents to spend less and less time in the Salish Sea. They shift to spending more time down in Puget Sound, and sightings become even rarer once we reach November. That's why it was very exciting to get word yesterday that whales were being heard on the hydrophones on the west side of San Juan Island!
|The three whales in front are, from left to right, L91 Ballena, new calf L115 (born in August), and mom L47 Marina. L47 has two adult daugthers, but her last four calves have not survived more than a year. Fingers crossed for little L115!|
I dropped what I was doing and headed out to the west side and was thrilled to see whales surfacing right off of Land Bank when I got there. I pulled over and walked down the hill in the beautiful November sunshine, and ended up watching the whales for an hour and a half.
The whales weren't in any hurry and were doing a lot of milling and foraging as they slowly made their way north. The first group I saw including L72 Racer, K20 Spock, and J34 Doublestuf, so I knew it was an autumn superpod!
There was a lull in the activity when I saw a big male coming around the corner from the south. I decided to stay to watch him pass, and soon realized he was just the leader of a big group of about 30 whales traveling all together. Too bad there was so much backlighting; IDs were difficult, but the blows sure looked cool lit up by the sun. While they weren't super close to shore, they were close enough that the sound of their blows was amazing.
It sounded like they all ended up going north and stayed far to the north today, so there's a chance of seeing them again sometime in the next few days when they come back south.
As a side note, this is my 500th blog post! It's only appropriate that I had a whale sighting to share for this milestone post.