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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

7-8-15 Up Island or Down Island

Wednesday, July 8th
...the K13s, a family of seven whales, were split this morning...Skagit K-13 and Scoter K-25 were by themselves moving ever so slowly up island...

...they soon changed direction and came back down island...the rest of their family was down island from the lighthouse and were also slowly moving up island...
...as they reached the lighthouse, one of them breached (missed it!) as Scoter and Skagit moved in toward them...
...they were under the surface for a few minutes and then surfaced all together heading back down island together...

...I always get curious as to what they are doing and why...possibly just taking a break, they appeared very relaxed...they might have been slowly seeking out some salmon, but nothing that required much energy.  I have an image from several years ago of Riptide J-30 traveling very slowly with his mother and three siblings...I took pictures every time they began to surface...one image shows Riptide with a salmon lying across his lower jaw with his lower teeth showing...there was absolutely no indication that he had gone after a salmon...maybe the salmon was just in the wrong place (for the salmon) at the right time (for the whale)...

...on Peregrine for most of the day we watched in the afternoon as all the K13 family group traveled up island toward the lighthouse...the question was, "Would they or wouldn't they make it to the light?"
...they were in a resting pattern for quite a while and then they 'woke up'...they hadn't reached the lighthouse just yet...there were a couple breaches, a spyhop, a tail slap...
...Skagit K-13 continued moving up island and actually got past the lighthouse a short distance before turning and going back down...the rest of the family had already turned back down island...
...meanwhile, Solstice L-89 and Spirit L-22 were a few miles down island in 'their spot', Sequim K-12 and her family members were farther south spread out and foraging (I didn't see them, only heard about it)...
...and then whales, fitting the description of the J16 family group, were seen coming down Boundary Pass!

...I figured I had a couple hours to catch up - ha!...
"J pod inbound from Seabird!"  What? How did they get that far undetected? Wow!...no time for figuring it out, just get to the park...they were coming in from the west and some up from down island and they were all heading up island...
...at first I only heard L pod calls and lots of them, way more than there to be only L-89 and L-22...then I heard K pod calls...and then...J pod calls...
...by now it was starting to get to the point of camera issues due to the lateness of the day...but I did manage to get IDs on enough to feel confident to say:
-all of K pod was back - since two family groups were already in here, the others who had come in Cappuccino K-21, Opus K-16 and Sonata K-35, Lobo K-26, his mom Lea K-14, and who appeared to be Yoda K-36 and Kelp K-42, completed K pod...




...pause for some bald eagle action...
...okay, back to the whales...
...J pod wasn't so easy...Onyx L-87 who travels with J pod was way off shore, the J14s came by the lighthouse house close to shore...others were way far off...they were all going up island...
...BUT Tika K-33 and his mom, Sekiu K-22, appeared to be the last of the whales stalled out by the lighthouse and foraged - in this case it looked like they were chasing fish!  But they were not going up or down island...


...the calls lasted for about five hours...almost to midnight...
...I heard very loud calls over Lime Kiln hydrophones and they lasted a long time over Lime Kiln Hps, but not on Orca Sound, so I wondered just who might be where when daylight got here...and had they gone up island or down island or both?

...it was the first time ever, that I actually had to turn off the hydrophone speakers, I had to get some sleep!

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