After three weeks with no Southern Residents, I woke up on the morning of June 5th to the message form a friend that she had started hearing orca vocals on the hydrophones on the west side of San Juan Island at 5:45 AM. I popped out of bed and half an hour later was motoring out into Haro Strait, where the timing was perfect to meet up with a big group of J- and L-Pod whales traveling all together. It's always awesome to see so many dorsal fins, but especially so after a long absence!
I was amused by the fact that I got L90, L91, and L92 all in the same photo - with little L122 in there as a bonus. It was great to check in with all the babies and see that they had survived the winter all right!
|From left to right: L90 Ballena, L92 Crewser, L122, and L91 Muncher|
It couldn't have been a more beautiful morning, with those glassy calm blue waters and the Olympic Mountains in the background.
|From left to right: J54, J28 Polaris, J47 Notch, J34 Doublestuf, and J22 Oreo|
|J17 Princess Angeline and her youngest, J53|
As they reached Henry Island, the groups from each pod separated, with Js traveling ahead and Ls slowing down and hanging back. They had been a ways offshore, but as they neared the island the whales took the shoreline, so the lighting changed but remained just as stunning as all the blows were backlit.
|Moving in towards shore along Henry Island|
|The Center for Whale Research boat almost obscured by the mist from whale blows|
|L123, the youngest member of L-Pod, born November 2015|
Eventually, Js continued north to meet up with the other whales that had gone up ahead of them, and Ls turned back and would spend the rest of the day doing the westside shuffle.
While their return was coincidental, it couldn't have been better timed, as my husband Jason and I had a part that afternoon with friends and family to celebrate our marriage. Being able to spend a couple early morning hours with just the two of us and the whales made it truly a perfect day!