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Saturday, May 2, 2015

5-2-15 Which Way Did the Whales Go?

Friday/Saturday, May 1st and 2nd
Friday, May 1st
...no scanning from shore would find the whales early this morning...they were several miles away from here...but by 11 a.m they had made their way to the west side of San Juan Island...out with Capt. Jim and Nancy at noon...
...the seas were beginning to get a bit nasty (the theme lately) so when two whales were spotted coming toward us, the Capt. decided we would turn and go up island with them and with the swells...
...it was Eclipse J-41 and her baby J-51...they appeared to be in the lead, but later we saw Eclipse's mother far up ahead...J-51 was doing some porpoising...

...then, on one surfacing J-51 showed just about how long a three month old might be...nice to have mom on the far side for added perspective...

Behind them by quite a distance were the J16s, except that Mike J-26 wasn't with them.  It's interesting to watch J-50, who I'm now calling 'CatchUp!', because no sooner does she catch up, a few minutes later she is catching up again!  Slick seems to up ahead most of the time. Often Echo J-42 has J-50 by her side or near to her.
The whales were quite a distance up ahead and in shore from us...we were moving at a crawl it seemed...just enjoying the babies...
...then all of a sudden they turned and began coming back down island, but instead of going down they changed course and aimed right toward us...this was deliberate on their part...



...we heard that the other whales had changed direction and were heading down and they all did, passing the lighthouse at Lime Kiln...but about an hour later the J16s came back up island past the lighthouse...they had a split off from the rest of J Pod!

...the J16s passed the lighthouse in a nice group and continued up island...

...the rest of the J pod whales went down island and off to the south...I watched from shore and it looked like they might be leaving - again...
Saturday, May 2nd
...so when they woke me up in the middle of the night (2:30 a.m.) it sounded like they had come back up...
...but when morning came they were no where to be seen...hummm...out with Capt. Jim for a 1:30 trip...we had several options - the J16s were somewhere up near Sucia Island to the north...the T65As were to the south at Hein Bank...and some other whales had been spotted coming down Swanson Channel...we headed that way...and were we ever glad we did - it was the rest of J Pod!...
...ah-ha! - they had gone up in the night...but based on the time frame they changed direction before getting into Active Pass and started to come back down...this is significant to me because I believe it is an indicator of the lack of salmon in these waters...

...Princess Angeline J-17 was in the lead, with Moby J-44 behind her...and she was on the move...in the distance were others...farther off to the west were Blackberry J-27 and Mako J-39...Granny J-2 was in the lead of the largest group traveling together...
..they were all heading for Turn Pt. the northerly entrance to Haro Strait...
...BCY0324 Big Mama the humpback was not far from us so we went over to see her...and a cruise ship was just entering the picture...photo op coming up!...we hoped...
...but then this cormorant stole the show!
...on our later trip we were only about 10 minutes from the harbor when one of the passengers spotted a whale - it was Shachi J-19...not sure if others had passed by while we were in the harbor...but soon we saw Eclipse J-41 and her baby J-51...behind them came others and soon people didn't know which way to look! - fun stuff - the J16 family had caught up and were actually up ahead of others...

...some of the whales went back into Open Bay...some foraging was going on and when they came out of there, they were being playful, which continued as they moved down island...here are a few images...
...a double spyhop...
...they were definitely in a playful mood...
...Granny J-2 was moving along swiftly...
...this little guy has his breach down!...


...watching closely to what they are doing will tell a lot about the abundance or lack thereof of salmon...
...like seeing the whales?...then please help the whales by helping to save the wild stocks of salmon...it matters for the humans and other species as well...
...if you haven't read about the push to get the four lower Snake River Dams removed, please click on the SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE INITIATIVE - TAKE ACTION in the upper right column on this blog...read about it and consider signing the petition - it matters a lot!

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