August 16, 2011

West Side Whales

As we headed south through Cattle Pass a grizzly-like head broke the surface with a large fish dangling from its mouth. The snorting and huffing creature was a male Steller sea lion, the largest of all the sea lions and the third largest species within the Pinnipedia suborder. The silhouette of another gigantic bull that had claimed his throne atop Whale Rock protruded from the outcrop.

Once traveling along San Juan Island’s west coast, the black dorsal fins of orcas appeared everywhere. The pod was widely dispersed along and from the shoreline in smaller groups of two to four. There were many mature males and a calf among the many we saw, leading us to believe it was L pod. J,K and L are the three pods which compose our Southern Resident community of killer whales. L pod is the largest with over 40 orcas and whose member Nugget (L-55) also has a calf this past year.