June 20, 2010

Chillin' In The San Juans

It was a cool and blustery overcast day in the San Juan Islands today, but that did not stop us from spending time with the orcas.  On the west side of San Juan Island, from Kellet Bluff to Lime Kiln Point State Park, we tracked several orcas through the surf.  Of the animals that we were able to identify there was L26 "Baba", her daughter L90 "Ballena" and her grandson L92 "Crewser" who is a sprouter male.  The orcas are a matrilinial society, which means that the oldest female in the family is the leader.  That also means that the different family groups are identified by the oldest female's official designation.  Therefore, the family group from L pod that we spent time with is known as the L26s.

As for sprouter males, those are young males that are going through the gangly teenage stage just before becoming adults.  It exactly coincides with the teen years in humans and the growth spurts that we endure.  For young male orcas though, it means that their dorsal fins are starting to get taller and straighter making them look more like their adult counterparts.  Females keep their shorter, curved dorsal fin simply gaining weight and length in their body as they mature.

So, from all of us at San Juan Safaris, to all of you hooked on the Discovery Channel, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!

~Tristen, Naturalist