Posts Tagged ‘L pod’

Westside Whales

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

It was an eventful day today with our resident whales along the westside of San Juan Island. We were greeted by both members of K Pod and L Pod for our afternoon trip on the M/V Sea Lion. We first met up with these whales at Battleship Island and then followed them north towards Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island. I always love being able to see them at Turn Point because Mt. Baker, the lighthouse, and the whales, will occasionally line up perfectly for the ultimate whale watching shot. A few of our lucky guests were able to capture that magical shot! Most of the resident whales continued their trajectory north, however a few stragglers stuck around for our evening trip. We were rewarded with Mega, Mystery, and even Solstice. Great day for whale watching and we got to top it off with a full moon in the sky!



Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Couldn’t ask for a better day!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

As we left San Juan Island yesterday, everyone couldn’t help but comment on what a phenomenal day it was.  Sunny skies, no wind, and flat calm glassy waters- oh, and the 40 or so killer whales that were in the area helped a little too! As Captain Mike, Chelsea and I motored out into the San Juan Channel, we made our way up to the north end of the Island where we met up with J and L Pod. For those of you who are just tuning in, J and L Pod are made up of Southern Resident Orcas, a group or killer whales that feed primarily on salmon. These whales were spread out over a six mile spread throughout Haro Straight fishing for the biggest and fattiest of all the salmon: Chinook salmon! We spent some quality time with everyone’s favorite’s including J19 and 41 (mother and daughter combo), L87, J27, L54, and L92. It was an amazing and peaceful day, with many breathtaking encounters. I really couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Wildlife and Whales Everywhere You Look!

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Today was a beautiful day all around with sunny sky’s, nice people, L-Pod, and lot’s of wildlife! The M/V Sea Lion headed North today towards Turn Point (the most Northwestern part of the continental U.S.) where we had reports of some Southern Resident Orcas. I couldn’t contain my delight when I told guests we had reports of these Orcas especially since it is rather late in September and they are still around!

On our way out we say some steller sea lions surfaced right in front of our boat, our Captain, Craig, about had a heart attack while everyone on board was enthused! We spent some time with the stellers and harbor seals then continued heading north into Canadian waters. We had reports of the leaders of the pod by Pender Bulffs. However, there were no boats around so we weren’t quite sure where the whales were. The water was pretty rolly in Boundary Pass, but I quickly spotted some blows in my binoculars and we headed that way. As it turned out, we were the only boat the entire time to watch the some 15 L-Pod Orcas- I didn’t mind the private show!

Many of the orphan whales of L-Pod were there today including L-84 Nissa and L-88 Wave Walker, both of whom lost their entire family and were adopted by the other L-Pod members. L-54 and her calf born in 2010 were also there. We watched as the 15 whales spread out length-wise side by side and herded salmon right towards Pender Bluffs for about a half mile, and then headed north along the shoreline continuing to surface in synchronicity. With the evergreens in the background and the puff, puff, puff of the whales spouts in the air, it truly was beautiful.

The day get’s better though, on our way home Captain Craig found us some dalls porpoise to play with! We engaged them with our boat (carefully), and they began happily playing in our boat wake. You could see them gliding effortlessly and very quickly though the water right next to and under our boat! These porpoises are so much fun!! Probably one of the top 3 days of the month! Great guests, great whales, and great wildlife. I love my job :)

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion
San Juan Safaris

Synchronized Orcas!

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Today was another one of those magical days, sunny skies, flat water, and family groups of Resident Orcas everywhere. When the M/V Sea Lion got on scene with the whales we saw numerous dorsal fins and spouts in the distance, and they were all coming our way! As it turned out, all of LPod was there traveling together in the Haro Strait. I quickly calculated the number of dorsal fins and surmised that it had to be LPod since they have the largest pod size and most male Orcas. Male Orca dorsal fins are each to recognize morphologically speaking; their dorsals are, on average, 5-6 feet tall!

It was truly amazing seeing all 36 whales surfacing and breathing together. They Orcas were “resting” a term given to the behavior of Orcas when they come close together, surface more often, and move at a slow pace. In fact, the degree of biological kinship between individual Orcas is thought to be correlated with the degree of respiratory synchronicity. In other words, the rhythm of breaths serves as a behavioral display of family unity; and even possibly social familiarity and affection among Orcas.  It was very peaceful to see while listening to their vocalizations over the hydrophone.

I managed to narrow down who we were watching: L25-Ocean Sun (matriarch of L-Pod est. born 1928), L85- Mystery, L22- Spirit and L89- Solstice (Spirits son), L41- Mega, L77- Matia and her calf L119, L78- Gaia, and L92- Cruiser were among the many we saw! I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow!!!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lino

San Juan Safaris

The Boys Are Back In Town!

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Alright so not only our are Southern Resident male orcas in town, but our females too! On both our afternoon and evening trip, guests aboard M/V Sea Lion were swarmed with J, K, and L Pod! Captain Mike had his hands full trying to maintain the designated 200 yds away from the resident orcas when all 82 whales were out and about foraging over Hein Bank. You would think aboard the boat it would be filled with “ooohs and ahhhs” from guests, but infact, it was filled with “Nooo and Ughhh” from all the almost caught breaches in the painfully small viewfinder of their cameras. Breaches happening all around the boat had passengers spinning in circles just trying to catch the ultimate shot. As far as whale watching goes, I’d say its a great day when your biggest problem is the inability to pick a spot to look because there is just so much activity going on around you. Needless to say, it was an amazing day on the water and I am so happy to have been able to be apart of the experience. Perfect photo or not!

Caitlin, Naturalist- M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

We Saw It All Today!

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Kittywake departed from our Friday Harbor location today as the sun was still high. This morning was pretty foggy so we were all happy that the weather took a turn for the best! We had calm waters, little wind, and clear skies for our afternoon whale watch.

We headed out through the San Juan Channel, into Cattle Pass and onto the West side of San Juan Island, just south of Lime Kiln Lighthouse. We caught up with our L-Pod members, Mystery and Wave Walker! They were foraging and having a great time tail slapping as they went along! Our guests were very happy to see them, for most, it was their first time ever seeing Orcas.

As we headed back, we were fortunate enough to see a Minke Whale, Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, and even a Seller Sea Lion. As our guests put it, ‘was there anything we didn’t see today’?! I love days like this where we see such a wide variety of wildlife.

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Kittywake
San Juan Safaris

L Pod, Minke Whale, and Stellar Sea Lions!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Leaving Friday Harbor, Captain Mike, Kevin, passengers aboard M/V Sea Lion, and myself headed south towards the Westside of San Juan Island for both our afternoon and evening trip. On both of these trips we met up with a subgroup of L pod. Same as yesterday, it was Wave Walker, L-88, that stole the show! Wave Walker has a very distinctive saddle patch that helps in identifying this 20 year old male. He wasn’t alone though, he was joined up with L-84, Nyssa, and the L-54′s, who comprise of a mother and her 3 offspring. It was a great day not only to see resident orcas but also some other amazing wildlife in the area. We got great looks at a few Stellar Sea Lions that have made it back from up north, and also a lone Minke hanging out in Griffin Bay. Never a dull moment in the San Juan’s!


Caitlin, Naturalist-M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

L-Pod Orcas and Minke Whale!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

The M/V Kittywake left Friday Harbor this afternoon in search of an elusive Minke out in Griffin Bay! We soon caught up with the small whale feeding on sand lance, krill, and small schools of herring right off of San Juan Island. The Minke gave us lots of great views surfacing many times, giving our guests some great photography moments. It’s always a great day when we start off seeing whales ten minuets into our trip!

After we left the Minke Whale to continue foraging, we saw some Harbor Porpoise surfacing in the distance as well as Harbor Seals forging in the tidal up-welling zones.  The Harbor Seals quickly surrounded our boat, peering up at us with their large eyes (which makes them look so endearing)!  While we moved away from them, one Seal emerged with a large salmon in his mouth!

Of course, the best part of the trip on M/V Kittywake was when we got on seen with our Southern Resident Orcas. L-Pod was still off the West side of the Island foraging on the Chinook Salmon. We got some great views of Mystery and Wave Walker (L-85 & L-88), or large male Orcas.  All in all, it was a great day out on the water with everything from Sea Lions to Orca whales seen by all of our guests! I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Kittywake

San Juan Safaris

L Pod Near False Bay

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Another great day on the water for the M/V Sea Lion’s passengers and crew! It started off a little daunting when the fog bank had yet to clear before our afternoon trip, but Captain Craig timed it perfectly! Once we passed the southern tip of San Juan Island the fog bank cleared and it was smooth sailing till we arrived on scene with a few members of L Pod.
Our afternoon trip got to witness excellent foraging displays by the L-12′s, who were constantly corraling their prey below the surface. It was a great opportunity to witness their feeding displays in action!
However, it wasn’t till our evening trip that we got a more intimate look at L-88, Wave Walker! Wave walker is a mature male, who was born in 1993, and seemed to have taken a liking to the M/V Sea Lion. He gave passengers aboard a multitude of excellent looks and even followed our general trajectory as we motored away. I don’t think anyone aboard walked away without a great shot to share with family and friends back home!
Overall it was a great trip for both our afternoon and evening trips and I can’t tell how great it feels to see some black and whites back in the area!

Caitlin, Naturalist- M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Orcas on the West Side of San Juan

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The M/V Kittiwake departed from our Friday Harbor location today with spirits set high with an awesome whale report early on. We confirmed the report later when we got on scene with our L-Pod Orcas! It was going to be a great day!

After going through the renowned Cattle Pass and a little bit of fog, the Kittiwake made her way to the Southwest side of San Juan Island off Pyle Point. It’s always a great sight to see your first dorsal fin and our guests were amazed at their grace and beauty. Our L-Pod Orcas were traveling close together tail slapping, spy hopping, and porpoising out of the water. L-87 (Mystery), L-85 (Guia), L-2 (Grace), L-88 (Wave Walker), and L-77 (Matia and her Calf) were all identified while on the water.

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Kittiwake
San Juan Safaris