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Monday, November 10, 2014

11-10-14 We Got Whales!

Monday, November 10th
...once November started, I kept thinking about several years ago - November 11, 2009 - when J pod whales showed up coming down island, passing Lime Kiln lighthouse...
...and that it could happen again...

...I was planning to go out on Maya's Westside Charters today for a noon time trip...but my hopeful memories told me to go scanning before the trip...
...maybe I'd spot a humpback whale, so when my eyes locked on the tall dorsal fin of a killer whale I about freaked!...I was so shocked I started to shake - LOL!!...and laughing at myself for trembling...and then I remembered November 11th, 7 years ago...okay, so one day off...
...back 7 years ago there had been a report several days before of whales seen to the north and they were 'swimming in circles'...all I could think of was 'baby', so when Polaris actually showed up with J-46 - yeah it was epic then too!

...okay, back to the present...November 10th, 2014...

...at first I thought that maybe they were Transients, mainly because I only saw about three whales...but then they spread out and that made me wonder, because the distance was greater than the way transients usually spread out...
...if I had been listening to the Lime Kiln hydrophones I would have known they were L pod whales!

...when I left them to head for the boat, they were heading down and were miles from shore...but when we got out there we were stretched to find them..uh,oh...
...earlier, from shore I had seen a sail boat near the whales, so we located a sail boat and the fellow let us know they had changed direction and were heading back toward San Juan Island...we headed that way...all of a sudden one of the passengers called out that something was just ahead of us...we got a brief glimpse and then nothing...
...we all wanted to see the whales and especially Noah, who had just studied killer whales in school - we just had to find them...

...Mark on Prince of Whales out of Victoria joined the search...he spotted blows up island...after seeing how far the whales were spread, the long dive times, and few surfacings in between...well, that filled in a lot of questions...
...Mystery's fin - what a hook it has!...but it doesn't always show like that...
...Lime Kiln lighthouse is in the distance on the left...the whales were at least three miles from shore when we finally saw them...
...still a puzzle to me as to which way they had come from...they might have come in, gone up so far and then back down...but what was most unusual to me was that when I saw them they were coming down from the north, at a steady pace and were miles from shore...KWDs (killer whale dots) at that time...
...they stalled out between Baynes Channel and Discovery Island and then came back towards San Juan Island, up past Lime Kiln - offshore - and then back down and headed out late in the day...

...the two moms and their little ones were spread way out...Mystery had disappeared for a while and showed up way north...
 
...then they began to come together...

...then Capt. Jim spotted some blows about two miles away...I grabbed a couple shots...it was Mega L-41 and probably Ocean Sun L-25...
 



...Dave from the Center for Whale Research zoomed over to verify who it was...


...Solstice L-90 and his mom Spirit L-22 were off from the others foraging...sort of like Mega and Ocean Sun - distance wise...


...just before Capt. Jim was about to depart I got to 'hop' (more like fall into) the Center for Whale Research boat and continue on with Dave Ellifrit from the Center...this is the last image I took from Capt. Jim's boat...
...while on the CWR boat we watched as the whales eventually all came together, Mega surprised us with a huge breach - and only once -and they continued their direction to the south and west...
...link here to the Center for Whale Research Encounter report, with images too, from today...

It was an epic November day!

NOTE:  a few days ago while out on the water a couple passengers commented a few times that they saw jumping fish - and they were big!...yesterday afternoon I saw that same thing three times...salmon leaping...and then today Residents showed up...interesting...

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