May 8, 2017

J Pod in the San Juan Islands

J Pod in the San Juan Islands

Today we left Friday Harbor with the exciting report of J pod hanging around the San Juan Islands.  We headed around to the North side of Orcas Island where we saw a few Steller’s Sea Lions swimming around as well as a harbor seal.  We also got some great looks at a pod of harbor porpoise.  Harbor porpoise tend to be a bit shy around boats so it is always exciting when we get excellent look at them from our vessel.  We hugged the North shore of Sucia Island where we saw a bald eagle as well as a Steller’s Sea Lion haul out.  We then headed over to Rosario Strait where J pod had been reported.  We watched as about 15 whales looked to be resting.  When orcas rest they exhibit what is known as Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, which is when one hemisphere of the brain rests at a time.  Researchers believe that the main reason for this adaption is because of the orcas need to remain conscious in order to breath.  As humans we breathe constantly without thinking about it (unconsciously) but marine mammals only breath when they need to and must contract muscles in order to do so.  As we continued watching the whales rest I spotted one of my personal favorite whales in the group, J27 (Blackberry).  He is 26 years old and has a younger brother and sister, who were both in the resting group as well.  While watching the calm and slow surfacing of the whales in the tranquil water we couldn’t help but feel content and relaxed during the sighting.  We headed back to Friday Harbor with satisfaction of our successful day.