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Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 5: Superpod!

This morning I headed out to Lime Kiln to see what I could see, and my first glimpse of the water as I walked down to the shoreline included a tall dorsal fin. "Residents!" I thought. Turns out, it was a family of four transients! They were offshore heading north/northwest in Haro Strait. (Possibly the T49As?)

See the dorsal fin??
It was a beautiful morning to hang out, at first...

The weather slowly deteriorated until three hours later it was raining pretty good. Hungry, and with still no sign of residents, I decided to head home to get something to eat. I was only home about an hour when I heard that residents were crossing Haro Strait, having swept out west the night before. Time to get back out there! I got to Lime Kiln just as the whales did.

I've seen some very lucky kayakers get some great experiences with orcas this week. While many have the dream of kayaking with orcas, it's important to remember that moments like these are not typical!

K27 Deadhead and K44 Ripple near a kayaker

While I had been one of only two cars in the parking lot first thing in the morning when the Ts went by, when I arrived at Lime Kiln this time, there were no parking spaces open at all! The shoreline was packed on this holiday weekend, despite the continuing drizzle.

Shore-based whale watchers at "Whale Watch Point"

Shore-based whale watchers at the lighthouse

All three pods were around, and I saw members of every pod, but it was mostly Ks I was seeing off Lime Kiln. As K20 Spock came by, she did three spectacular breaches!

K20 Spock

K20 Spock

I love this next shot - while she's facing "away" from the camera, you can see both of her open saddle patches!

K20 Spock

A bit later Spock's younger brother K34 Cali came by really close to shore! I love the reflections.

K34 Cali

K34 Cali
An hour and a half later, not all the whales had passed us, but there was a turnaround as everyone did an about face and started going south again, I was assuming to meet up with J-Pod "Group A" who was coming down Rosario Strait. (Note: I think the only other whales not present were the L12 sub-group, the L54s, L84, and L88.) As the whales traveled south, L116 Finn (age 4) stopped to do some foraging. I thought it showed up in one of my photos, but it didn't very clearly - he was pushing a salmon around at the surface.

L116 Finn pushing a salmon around on the surface

The whales were really spread out - some were within a few hundred yards of the shoreline:

K27 Deadhead
Others were waaaay out in the middle of Haro Strait, but the setting with the calm gray waters and stunning clouds still made it beautiful to watch them go by:

The last whales that came by did so quickly, perhaps trying to catch up to everybody else. It's hard to get good photos of porpoising whales - they were almost out of the frame on this shutter click!

I heard they did meet up with the other Js off the south end of the island a bit later and they had a big party. They stayed down there until dark, so I was wondering if they would still all be together the next morning, or if some would leave. You know I would be out there to find out! Stay tuned....(I'll give you a hint: they stayed!)

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