Posts Tagged ‘Resting’

J Pod and L Pod, Here To Stay?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Today, Captain Mike, a few quests, and myself headed up northeast towards Lummi Island where we intercepted J Pod steadily moving east. Like Andrew mentioned in yesterdays blog, the community has been anxiously awaiting the return of our residents pods and were overjoyed to hear of a superpod traversing through our area. The resident pods seemed to have split up by the time our afternoon and sunset trip rolled around.

However, that didn’t stop us from seeing whales today! Earlier in the day we were able to meet up with L Pod, who was grouped together closely hugging the shoreline of Saturna Island in a “resting” pattern. Resting patterns are a way that orcas can go into a half awake, half asleep state. Being marine mammals, they need to be able to breathe air consistently.  Using a resting pattern allows orcas to surface, while turning off portions of their brain to recover, and still be aware of their surroundings.

However, in the evening trip,  J Pod was doing anything but resting. On our sunset tour, J Pod, who we haven’t seen for over a month now, gave us a great showing. Below the sheer cliff drops of Lummi Island was a spread out group of J Pod. All along the Lummi coastline our guest were spotting blows, until quite quickly the entire group switched directions and headed towards Sinclair Island.

Over by Sinclair Island, the depth is only 5 to 10 feet in some areas that the pod was foraging! This could be a tactic used by the orcas to limit the amount of space available for salmon to maneuver in. This wasn’t the only foraging techniques guests saw, we also got to see a myriad of barrel-rolls, tail and pectoral slaps, spy-hops, and the occasional breaching! It was a great way to welcome J Pod back to the San Juan Islands and hopefully this active group sticks around for longer!


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

Sleep With One Eye Open

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

A group of killer whales that were hugging the coastline came into sight as we rounded the southwestern end of Henry Island. Cappuccino (K-21), one of the mature males of K pod, was spotted with his open saddle patch. Within the first ten minutes two mature orcas spyhopped, bringing half of their bodies above the surface, and there were a few lobtails from the juveniles. Then all activity ceased as they slipped into resting with a typical tight, slow moving formation. The mood was tranquil as dorsal fins of all shapes and sizes broke the surface in unison and the orcas took a lingering breath before sinking back into the Salish Sea.

Resting, or unihemispheric slow wave sleep (USWS), is when only one of the cerebral hemispheres engages in sleeping and one eye remains open. This form of sleep occurs in all the species within the Cetacea order, along with various marine mammals and birds.

Kirsten, naturalist