After circling around Danger Shoal for quite a bit of time, Blackberry began to head North, and was soon paralleling Granny J2, Cookie J38, Doublestuf J34, and Oreo J22. At one point, Oreo J22 spy hopped, and awhile later Blackberry J27 breached. The five of them loosely headed up Haro Strait together and once they reached Turn Point on Stuart Island, we left to them try to spot other J pod members further North. The next orcas we saw were Polaris J28, Tsuchi J31, and Star J46, which Ken Balcomb and Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research were with off of Moresby Island. To help Ken and Dave find more orcas, we headed up in Swanson Channel to do a little scouting. We first spotted Princess Angeline J17, Shachi J19, Eclipse J41, and Onyx L87, then Samish J14 and Se-Yi'-Chn J45. In the distance, we also saw Hy'shqa J37 and Ti'lem I'nges J49.
As we neared Mouat Point on North Pender Island, Ken and Dave spotted Slick J16, Echo J42. They also noticed that as Slick J16 surfaced, a tiny calf was tucked in her slip stream!! This new calf, designated as J50, was born sometime in late December of 2014. The relationship between Slick J16 and J50 was unclear. Born around 1972, Slick is expected to be post-reproductive, so it is possible that Slick's daughter, Alki J36, is J50's mother and that Slick was just baby sitting her grandchild so Alki could have a break. I did spot Alki towards the end of our encounter as she traveled loosely with Princess Angeline J17, Tsuchi J31, Moby J44, and Star J46, so she is not missing. Hopefully the next encounter with J pod will confirm who the mother is. Someone is at least producing milk because the calf looked healthy and was not acting lethargic. It should also be noted that J50 is extremely raked up along its dorsal fin and flanks. It is thought that J50's birth was a difficult one and that an adult whale helped pull the calf out of the mother's uterus.
After a little while longer, we also left the J50 and family, and headed to Active pass and then slowly headed back down Swanson Channel to pick up any individuals we hadn't seen yet on the way back home. In order of appearance, we saw Ti'lem I'nges J49, Hy'shqa J37, Se-Yi'-Chn J45, Alki J36, Notch J47, Tsuchi J31, Princess Angeline J17, Star J46, and Moby J44 on our way back through Swanson.
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