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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Whales I Haven't Seen in a While

This weekend I got the chance to see some members of L-Pod that I hadn't seen yet this year. While the L12 subgroup has been in inland waters for a while, the "big part" of L-Pod has been scarce until the last few days, when all the members of the Southern Resident Community of killer whales have been traveling together. The whales have been very spread out so it hasn't quite been the exciting social superpod you might be imagining, but it's still awesome to know there are that many whales (88 at last count) in the area.

On Saturday all three pods made their way down from the north, and passed by Lime Kiln between 1 and 3 in the afternoon. J2 Granny was in the lead, followed by the J14s, K13s, and K12s. Most of the other whales were way (read: several miles) offshore, but then after a half hour gap another group came by close enough to be identified. In the lead of this group was L47 Marina and her youngest calf L115. It's exciting to see L115 still going strong. Marina has two adult female offspring in L83 Moonlight and L91 Muncher, but her next four calves after that (L99, L102, L107, and L111) all died within a few weeks of birth. This led to speculation that maybe Marina wasn't able to lactate or was having some other type of difficulty, but L115 has now made it for a whole twelve months! 

L47 Marina and calf L115, who turns 1 year old this month
Following L47 was a big group with lots of females and juveniles who I believe was the L55 family group. This is another group of L-Pod I don't get to spend much time with, and that combined with the fact that they are fairly nondescript when it comes to individual markings means they're a challenge to identify. I'm fairly confident I identified L82 Kasatka and her first calf L116, who is one year old as well, and the rest of the group seemed right given the number of adults/juveniles in the rest of their family.

This morning I woke up and immediately felt like I should head out to the west side. Following my intuition turned out to be a good idea, as when I got out there whales were already passing by heading north past Lime Kiln. The first whale I saw was L2 Grace, the mother of a family group I hadn't seen yet this year!

L2 Grace, estimated to be 51 years old this year
The whales proved difficult to track this morning as they were going on long dives and were again spread out. In fact, I only saw Grace on this one surfacing and not again! Well offshore I did see her younger son L88 Wavewalker.

The K12s were around again, as I saw K22 Sekiu and her nephew K37 Rainshadow. L79 Skana was swimming with his mom L22 Spirit - those two seem to have a really close bond:

L79 Skana and L22 Spirit
Finally, I saw the L54 family group, another part of L-Pod I hadn't seen yet this year. It was a little confusing to have both K22 Sekiu and L54 Ino in the same vicinity as one another because they have very similar saddle patches on their right sides. Only Ino has a one-year old calf, though, and L117 was right in there beside her. One of the other whales traveling with Ino (perhaps her oldest son?) breached:

Breach - perhaps by L100 Indigo?
And then, can you believe this? The sequence of shots of the above breach resulted in this image:

Breaching whale upstaged by immature gull
What are the chances of THAT happening?! That immature gull crossed in front of the camera right as the whale was the furthest out of the water. Despite all my years of taking whale photographs nothing like that has ever happened before!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Gulls eh - don't yer just luv em ;)

Great sightings once again Monika.



Katie Jones said...