May 10, 2014

J Pod Returns Home

Like many days in early spring when killer whales have no set pattern of occurrence, we left our Friday Harbor location without a confirmation of killer whales. However, when we got a possible report of transients headed through Active Pass, we decided to go check it out and see what we could see. As we entered the Strait of Georgia, our small groups of guests aboard the M/V Sea Lion got a nice surprise as we began to see dorsal fins emerge in the distance. As we got closer, I realized that what we were seeing were not the mammal-hunting transient killer whales, but rather our resident J Pod that had finally come back into these waters after a long winter away. Finding the Resident Pod, after we’ve all longed for their return, was like finding gold.

This was the first sighting of J Pod in the Salish Sea in months, and we were all very happy to welcome them back. It was a great feeling to see the familiar rounded dorsal fins and colored saddle patches; as opposed to the nicked, scared, and more uniformly gray saddle patches and dorsal fins of the transient killer whales. I quickly began to do a “head count” for guests on board, so they would all know exactly which killer whale families and matrilines they were watching. J2 (Granny) who was estimated to be born in 1911 was still alive and traveled very closely with her adopted family member, L87 (Onyx). Also in the grouping was the “Cookie Clan”, or J22 (Oreo), J32 (Rhapsody), J34 (Doublestuf), and J38 (Cookie). All in all, we watched almost all 26 whales from J Pod yesterday. It was yet another great day on the water.

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris