August - one day joy and the next shock & sadness.
J Pod & the L12s were last seen in the inland waters on July 4th and last seen heading west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on July 5th. K Pod & the rest of L Pod had not come all the way in to Haro Strait yet this season. Now, 8/17, members of J, K & L pods were incoming!
It was mid-afternoon when they were seen coming up island toward Lime Kiln lighthouse. They didn't just pass by. Instead for the next few hours there were very many energetic whales. It had been a long time since seeing such a large grouping with lots of behaviors during an extened time, going up-island & a few minutes later the same group going back down...no, wait!...they changed direction again...and again. At times it was challenging to keep up with all the social and energetic SRKWs. They seemed to be celebrating their return. They know the Lime Kiln lighthouse area and often come in close to shore, passing through kelp, where salmon will often be. It appeared that a large amount of salmon had come in and most of them eventually followed the salmon north. A few images to show some of what occurred:
While so many people were glad to see the SRKWs back in the inland waters, it wasn't known that Lolita, aka Tokitae, was dying. There was great anticipation that she was coming 'home' to the Pacific Northwest after 53 years in captivity, but for some reason it wasn't to be. It came as a shock to all. There has been anger, sadness, shock, lots of questions as to why? - Why was she doing so well and all of a sudden gone? So many have written many wonderful words honoring Tokitae.
If each of us are willing to look back... look at what she taught you over many years. There's a saying 'each one teach one'. Yep, that's what she had done all these years but did we notice? She is free now and her spirit will carry on and perhaps cause positive changes for those who care to think deeply about what she 'gave each of us' even if you have never been to see her. She will live on in our hearts and perhaps 'ah-ha' moments will cause you to smile because you just realized what she was teaching you.