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Saturday, October 24, 2015

10-24-15 A New Baby In J Pod !

Saturday, October 24th

...out on Peregrine with Andy at the helm we leave Snug Harbor with no word on whales...at this time of year that is often the case...
...no sooner are we out when we get word that whales had already passed Open Bay (which they weren't but we didn't know that) so we headed down island because it was supposed to be that they had gone by about 20 minutes ago...
...okay we had whales! - yay!  that's the first thing...now to locate them...
...we had gone less than a mile when we turned back to see what was up that way...first two humpbacks!...cool...but no orcas...
...and then...who pops up but Muncher L-91 and baby L-122 (first seen in early September by a photographer from shore on San Juan Island)...
...wow!...L pod has come back down from the north...
...we could see that the whales were spread across the strait...
...then Scoter K-25 pops up...wow!...K pod is here too...

...but the big question for me was:  Where was J pod?...as far as I knew no one knew for sure...
...we gradually made our way IDing the whales we saw...it would be great to see J pod...if they were here...ah!...we hear over the radio that some J pod whales are here...
...we came upon Tahlequah J-35, Notch J-47, Saturna K-43, Tika K-33, and his mom Sekiu K-22...I had already seen Rainshadow K-37 who was chasing fish like Scoter K-25 had been doing...and several other L and K pod whales...we had hardly moved at all...and everywhere you looked you could see a whale...
...then Andy begins to move the boat a bit up island...we were looking for more J pod whales...he spots a baby...thinking that it was one of the J16s -- J-50 or J-52 -- (we had already seen Eclipse's baby J-51)...I look...at first I only saw Princess Angeline J-17 and one other...and then a 'very tiny' whale surfaces with those two...huh?...that doesn't compute...neither J-50 or J-52 would be with Princess Angeline...
I said, "this is important, stay with them"...they were about 500 yards away...and I needed to see them again...everyone on the boat was focused on finding this tiny little whale...
...and then...it was so very small...definitely it's a new baby!!!
...and that's the main story for all day today...there is a new baby in J pod. (I will post more of the story of this day in my next post...there is a lot that went on today with all the whales that were present.)
...for now, here are some images of the newest member of the community...

...Tahlequah J-35 for most of the time we were with them, seemed to be the 'support person'...as I call it...she traveled behind J-17 and the baby...Moby spent more time up with his mother than any other whale during the time we saw them...
...the Center for Whale Research documenting this new calf...


...next question everyone asks:  who's the mom?...the Center for Whale Research will determine that provided that this baby is seen again...let's hope...
...it's October the whales were heading out to sea (they might be back soon)...it can be the toughest time of year for a newborn...

...Princess Angeline J-17 might be the mother or the grandmother or even just a friend helping out for the day...

...they were heading west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca..

note - so there is no confusion:  while on the water and hearing that some J pod whales had been seen, as well as some Ks and Ls...there were a few boats up in the direction of who we thought might be the J16s or the J17s...the J16s have two calves the J17s' youngest is five years old...there was NO mention of a new calf or a little whale, or any indication of something new, by any of the boats...it was was around noon that Andy spotted a baby and I began to try to figure out which one it was (as I wrote, above, in this post)...we thought we had discovered a new calf...once sure it was not any of the other J pod babies I called the Center for Whale Research but was unable to connect...I kept trying...

...I knew this was a brand new calf and assumed it belonged to J pod because of who the calf was traveling with...
...I did not know that it had been seen by another person and the people on that boat or that the Center had already been alerted...without that information I believed that we had discovered a new calf (and we needed to stay with this little group until the Center arrived on scene - it just made sense to me)...
...in the end we were not the first eyes on that new calf, but we were glad we were able to stay on scene until the researchers arrived...
...and the passengers?...I think they were delighted to see a new orca calf for the first time in their human lives :)
...and Andy, Jeff, and I - oh, yes!  We were delighted so very much!

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