Today Captain Mike, naturalist Caitlin and myself headed out of the San Juan Channel, through Cattle Pass and to the south end of the Haro Strait. We had heard rumors about the whale activity on the south end of the island and hoped to encounter L-Pod and even some transient killer whales! This trip we had a particularly great, enthusiastic group of guests on board and our hopes were high when we saw our first spout from our resident L-Pod.
This is the second day that L-Pod has been in the Salish Sea and we’re very happy to welcome them back after being away for about a week. We encountered L-25, Ocean Sun and four others. They were in a particularly good mood today, breaching, logging, and tail slapping! Of course, researchers haven’t really figured out why these whales “breach”, “log” or “tail slap” but I’d like to think that when we witnessed the behavior, it was because they were having fun!
We also encountered something very rare today- we saw transient killer whales in the same general location! These two groups of whales are rarely seen in such close proximity to one another, and often times can be quite adversarial. These two types of orca are very different as they differ in their social structures, habitat preference, diet, morphology, pigmentation, and even genetically! Our resident orcas consume mostly Chinook salmon and do so at 400 pounds a day! Our transient orcas prey predominantly on marine mammals such as harbor seals, harbor porpoise, and Dall’s porpoise. It was certainly a treat to see these two very different forms of Killer whales in the same day! Our guests definitely learned more about identifying certain whales today, since they could clearly see the difference in their dorsal fins and saddle patches! What a phenomenal day! “Work” seems to get better and better!
Heather, Naturalist, Sea Lion
San Juan Safaris