May 15, 2011

J Pod Vocalizations!

I have to say that some of my best whale days have been gross, rainy days.  Today was no exception.

We made our way down the east side of San Juan Island and around toward False Bay.  It was one of those silent, glassy, flat water days.  No seals hauled out, no sea lions on our way south.  We passed a bunch of soggy Cormorants and saw a Bald Eagle sitting on the ground.  When we got closer to Lime Kiln we saw blows way in by the rocks.  Then we saw a few more farther north. Then a couple surfaced about half way between us and shore.  We soon realized that just about all of J Pod was spread out over a distance of close to 5 miles.  It was hard to focus on just one group of whales.  I think at that point every passenger was watching a different whale.
We picked Blackberry and Mike out of the lineup as well as Looker, the 2010 calf.  There wasn't a lot of surface behavior.  The whales in close to shore were cruising north at a steady pace and the few different groups farther out looked like they were just slowly milling.  We shut down the engine and sat for a long time, observing the whales about their business.  None of them were particularly close to us, but Capt Mike dropped the hydrophone and I couldn't believe what I heard.  They were, hands down, the best vocalizations I have heard this season.   There was even a point when we could hear the whales at the surface, without the hydrophone.  A couple of other boats in the area said the same thing.

We sat still and silent while we watched and listened in the rain.  The passengers were in awe.  I was in awe.  There wasn't a single noise aside from the whales.  It was the type of day that makes you appreciate just how incredible these animals are and how lucky we are to share these islands with them.


Naturalist, San Juan Safaris