July 2, 2013

Best Trip Ever !

As the sun was looming low in the sky, the Sea Lion headed out once more to show our guests a wonderful time with our Southern Resident Killer Whales. We headed out through the whirling up-wells in the San Juan Channel and met our whales in Cattle Pass. We met them with as much excitement as they appeared to be feeling! Some L-Pod members were in the Pass; they were already breaching, tail slapping, and traveling close together. They swam increasingly close to Goose Island, jumping out of the water, rolling over onto their backs, cartwheeling through the water ... it was amazing!

The whales jumped and carried on around Goose Island and were heading south to meet up with more of L-Pod. Two family groups were coming together and were about to collide with power and enthusiasm. Captain Mike re-positioned the boat and we waited in anticipation for the two groups to meet, and when they did it was spectacular! I've read that when two family groups, or pods, meet up they celebrate. This was certainly the case, and it was the best celebration I've ever witnessed as a naturalist. Whales were breaching out of the water in synchronicity, three at a time sometimes, tail slapping, rolling, spyhoping etc. Calves were breaching with excitement, and continued to do so long after the older females began to settle. We even heard them all vocalizing when we dropped the hydrophone into the water. If I could understand Orca, I would say they were happy to be reunited!

I felt very fortunate to whiteness this family gathering. This was the best example of how intelligent and social these graceful beings are. We are just now beginning to understand how deep our Resident Orcas social structure and culture is rooted in them. They have traditions and vocalization styles all of their own, it is unique. It is thought that these family's have inhabited the Salish Sea since the last ice age and it shows. What myself, Captain Mike and our guests saw tonight was a small part of history in the making. It was magical.

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion
San Juan Safaris