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Saturday, September 12, 2015

August 23 - 26: Let the Superpod Begin!

In the afternoon of August 23rd, we met up with the whales we had seen the day before coming back down from the north. All the Southern Residents except the L12 sub-group were there, but whereas the day before they had been in 2-3 large groups, on this day they were all spread out. When we encountered them they were spread for many miles both north-south and east-west across Haro Strait. As a result we didn't see/identify nearly as many whales, but we did get to spend some time with a few animals we don't see as often.

A big spyhop from K16 Opus, who has a little beauty mark on her chin

10 year-old L106 Pooka (pretty sure - this guy and his siblings are hard for me to tell apart)

On August 24th the L12 sub-group came in to join the party, meaning we had our first full-fledged superpod of the summer! All 81 Southern Resident Killer Whales were here! I didn't catch up with them until late in the day on August 25th, out on our boat Serenity. We could see a huge group of whales in the distance heading out into the middle of the straits, but the only group of whales we got close to on this day was the L54s.

L54 Ino in the middle with her two offspring, L108 Coho and L117 Keta

All the whales hung out down south that night, which meant they were either going to head west and leave or Lime Kiln was going to be an awesome place to be the next morning, on the 26th. Turns out it was the latter! So glad I made sure I was there. At first just a few Js and Ks came by...

J2 Granny and K12 Sequim

But then all the other Js and Ks came into view in one tight, active group right on the rocks. Best. Feeling. Ever.

As they got close I switched to video, and I'm glad I did. I think it captures the moment a little better than stills would have. Someone had the hydrophone playing on a speaker, so you can hear their live vocalizations in the video.

After Js and Ks passed, we could see another huge group of whales to the south: L-Pod! Unfortunately for us they stalled out and turned back south, but not before L41 Mega breached a couple of times, impressive even from miles away! (He's the biggest living Southern Resident.)

Breach from L41 Mega

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