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Monday, April 8, 2013

4-8-13 Right Outside of Friday Harbor!

Monday, April 8th
...today would be a good day for Transient killer whales to be in San Juan Channel...why?...yesterday killer whales were seen off Iceberg Pt. heading toward Rosario...that's close enough, but it didn't really mean any would be seen...I made arrangements to go out on the Western Prince...just in case...
...no whales had been sighted, but the seas were calm and the sun was shining...the east end of Spieden Island had about 15 Steller sea lions enjoying the day too...branded animal 183R is a common visitor to the islands...the R stands for the Rogue River in Oregon, where he was branded as a young animal...

...as we were moving on this animal 'spyhopped' offshore from where the older Stellers where hauled out...
...I believe this is a 1-2 year old Steller...I'll be sending the images to the researchers for verification, etc. for their purposes...we don't usually see very many juveniles in here, but I remember last fall there were 2 of this same coloration down at the south end of the island...
...along Spieden we traveled...it's spring lamb time...

...a little while later we get a call that there are whales at Friday Harbor - awesome!...
...T49A, T49A1 and T49A3 were the whales present...they were taking long dives and seemed to be 'working the shoreline' passing by this marker located along the San Juan shore just outside of the south end of Brown Island...

...the whales moved out into San Juan Channel toward another marker...looking like they were going to go down island (when they had first been spotted they were traveling up island)...
...several times their dives lasted up to 10 minutes...we all had to keep scanning 360 degrees...while we were watching and waiting we had moved out toward the middle of the Channel where there were lots of birds...there was an exodus by the Rhinoceros Auklets...the whales were most likely under where they had been...

...and when they surfaced that was the spot!...they were making a kill...
 

...with a great spyhop by T49A1...


...the captain dropped in the hydrophones but the whales were not vocalizing at all...

...they finished their meal and began to move along...T49A1 and younger sibling T49A3...
...they turned as if they were going into Friday Harbor - that's where we had to get to! We sure didn't have far to get back to the dock!

...knowing these whales were heading up island I went to a spot to the north and sat and waited...it wasn't too long before their blows came into view...they went around the corner and started entering Rocky Bay...
...there they took another meal...this time with lots of surface action...3 spyhops, lots of tail lobs and some 'backwards swimming' (that's when they surface with the back of their body first and ending with an exhale as the front end surfaces...they ate for quite a while and then as the tide was beginning to ebb, so did they and started to go back the way they had come...
...I was 'ebbing' too - so cold...time to go home and warm up...

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