Part of J-Pod turned up on the west side of San Juan Island on April 7th, but between work and doing some boat maintenance we weren't able to catch up with them. After getting the boat back in the water in the early evening, we met the news that there transients in San Juan Channel with excitement. Thanks to help from a friend, we found them just north of Yellow Island. It was the T123s and T49As.
The two teenage boys from these family groups, 15 year-old T123A Stanley and 14 year-old T49A1 seemed to be loving each other's company. (Only some transients have common names - the T123s are one such group. They're named by the Vancouver Aquarium's orca adoption program.)
|T123A and T49A1|
In my imagination, the boys liked the chance to hang out together and get away from their moms and kid siblings.
|T123A and T49A1|
|T123C with T49A1 diving behind him|
For those keeping score, the T123s are made up of T123 Sidney, her son T123A Stanley, and T123C (age two). The T49As are made up of mom T49A, her son T49A1, eight year-old T49A2, four year-old T49A3, and one year-old calf T49A4. T49A2 is an interesting whale, because he often travels with his aunt's family group the T49Bs. But he was back with his natal family group on this evening! Did you follow all that? :)
|A heavily cropped shot to show the presence of T49A2 (notice the notch), who often doesn't travel with his family|
We followed the whales around McConnell Island when they made an abrupt turn to head to Crane Island. We cut the engine and let them pass in front of us.
|Mom T49A with her two youngest: T49A4 on the left and T49A3 on the right|
The whales then crossed Wasp Passage towards Shaw:
But here they stalled out and made a kill, I think of a harbor porpoise. As gulls swooped down to pick of the leftovers, the whales celebrated and shared dinner:
With that it was time for us to go our separate ways, as they continued east through Wasp Passage and we headed back west to home. The amazing spring would continue throughout the rest of the week, as transients and the J16s would both be around the next day....and then, on April 9th, I got to meet J52 for the first time! Stay tuned to the next post for baby pictures!