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Saturday, June 21, 2014

L-Pod Joins the Party

On June 19th we heard that many more whales were headed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At first we thought we might be in for our first superpod of the season, but it turned out it was the majority of L-Pod (no K-Pod) - still something to be excited about because 60+ whales were about to meet up! They met up offshore of the south end of San Juan Island and spent most of the day hanging out there socializing. Towards sunset they made their way up the west side of San Juan Island, where I caught up with them off of Land Bank's Westside Preserve.

When I got out of my car, I could hear blows almost constantly, but I couldn't see any whales! Turns out they were mostly way offshore, facing south, still partying (lots of breaching and tail slapping), but not making much progress. A few whales were in a bit closer.

L92 Crewser and a couple friends off Land Bank

I had a hard time deciding which way to look. Left: whales, right: amazing sunset - kind of a surprise because it was drizzling when I left home!


Distant breach with the Olympic Mountains in the background
Or sunset?

As you can tell, I tried to see as much as I could of both, until the sunset faded and the whales became too far away to see in the dimming light.

J28 Polaris in the blue light of dusk
The next morning, the 20th, I thought it might be worth getting up early and heading to the west side, as after spending the night down south, I thought the whales might come north. The first thing I saw when I got back to Land Bank at 5:45 AM was this guy - a nice breakfast companion:

I also heard a willow flycatcher (year bird 178)! The birding remained pretty good over the next hour and a half - surf scoters, American goldfinches, pigeon guillemots, Swainson's thrushes, etc. (almost 30 species), but in turns out I had missed the whales. They went north about an hour before I got there. I think the L12s headed west, but the rest of Ls stayed.

After seeing tons of amazing pictures on Facebook from yesterday's whales up north, I was determined to see them today if I could! Late morning my wish was granted, again from Land Bank: Js and Ls made their way north in two large groups. They were mostly separated by pod, but L87 was with Js, and J27 was with Ls.

They were a little ways offshore in tight groups, and I just love love love seeing so many dorsal fins at the surface at once!

There are a couple cool pairs of brothers in J-Pod. This is one of them. Is it just me, or is J38's fin maybe starting to sprout?

J38 Cookie and J34 Doublestuf
L-Pod! (And J27)
Lines of whales!

As they meandered north, I started to head home. I got about 3/4 of the way there when I heard some whales had turned around, so I did too! I got back to Lime Kiln in time to see the L-Pod whales forage their way south.

L47 Marina
Does this mean they're going to leave? I hope not, but I guess we won't know til tomorrow!

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