The M/V Sea Lion and Kittiwake left Friday Harbor today with great reports of killer whales off the west side of San Juan Island. What was so great about this report you ask? The reports were of one of our resident pods that was thought to have left the night before: K Pod! We have only seen K Pod in this area for the last three days. For over a month now these whales have been MIA, or missing in action. They have finally gotten the memo that the Chinook Salmon, there favorite food source (rich in fatty omega-3′s), are finally coming into the Salish Sea in large enough numbers to make it worth the 80 mile swim into our waters. These salmon are smelling their way to the Fraser River, and up to their natal stream-bed to spawn. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have those familiar dorsal fins and saddle patches in these waters once again.
We soon caught up with members of K Pod off the west side of San Juan Island. They were quite spread out, fishing. We watched K33- Tika, a juvenile male, swim round and round many times trying to catch the salmon he was chasing! Ironically, his name has Chinook origins meaning “swift.” Tika always stays very close to mom. Having said that, it wasn’t long before Sikiu, K22 surfaced close by. That was the first time I had seen K33 up close since last summer, and he has grown! I almost didn’t recognize him! Some of the J17 matriline were in the mix with K’s as well, including J28 and J46. After watching those whales for a little while, one whale was incing closer and closer. Usually, killer whales only surface 3-5 times and go down for another dive. However, K26, Lobo (21 years of age), surfaced about ten times, giving us spectacular views of his beautifully symmetrical dorsal fin! It is SO nice to have these guys back again!!
Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion
San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching