July 6, 2011

Syncronized Surfacings in the Fog

Traveling east between Orcas and Shaw Islands and then south along Lopez, we emerged in the Rosario straight.  Despite starting in beautiful and warm Friday Harbor sunshine, we quickly became encompassed in a cool low-lying fog bank (but still at least giving us 225 yards of visibility).  Looming off our starboard side was another whale watching vessel, stopped, watching, waiting.  With a quick radio call to them, we learned that they were waiting for whales off of their port side; wait, that's where we were!  A moment later, we saw them: four orcas surfaced about 220 yards now off our port side, the eerie fog surrounding them.

As we watched the whales, another group surfaced behind us with three more individuals.  With the fog, it was difficult to see how many whales there were and in what groupings.  Two here, five there; three this way, six more that way!  Then all of a sudden, they vanished on a dive.  We shut down our engines and waited, each passenger scanning a different direction.  When they finally surfaced, there were about twenty orcas together in a tight group, just off our stern!  We could hear the poof-poof-poofs of their exhalations.  At a glance, we determined that there was a mix of J and L pods, with identifications of a male,"Mega" (L-41), and a female, "Princess Angeline" (J-17).

As we were getting our last glimpses of the whales, the fog lifted and we welcomed back the sunshine.  On our travels back to the harbor, we watched as a bald eagle circled overhead and then swooped down at the sea for a fresh fish stick dinner.

Serena, Naturalist

San Juan Safaris