The T36Bs and T46s milled about for a while and may have made a kill when the T99s arrived out of nowhere and joined the other two matrilines. As the T99s were joining them, members of the T36Bs and T46s logged in a line the surface, almost like what greeting ceremonies looked like with the salmon-eating Southern Resident orcas (J, K, and L pod). All the orcas then got very tactile, and social. There were multiple breaches, back dives, headstands, tail slaps, pec slaps, dorsal fin slaps, cartwheels, spy hops, and aerial scans. The T36Bs, T46s, and T99s then continued down San Juan Channel and past Friday Harbor, occasionally returning to excited tactile and social behavior temporarily. We left them as they had just passed Turn Island, aiming for Cattle Pass.
On the 28th, J pod appeared in San Juan Channel late in the day. We quickly jumped aboard Maya’s Legacy Charter’s vessel ‘Imagine’ for a quick look and arrived on scene with all the J17s swimming past Jones Island as they headed south in a loose group. Onyx L87 was further out in the middle of the channel trailing the J17s. More Js then popped up off in the distance further up the channel. We left as the J17s were approaching Yellow Island. It was still very sad to see the J17s without Polaris J28 and Dipper J54, and Onyx L87 without Granny J2.
At 7:00 in the morning on the 29th, we headed out on the water with our friends in search of orcas. Not long after we left the dock, a report came in of a pod seen nearby at West Beach, Orcas Island. We headed for West Beach through slightly lumpy seas and rain and Johnny spotted the orcas right away offshore of Freeman Island. It was almost all of J pod and they were in two resting groups paralleling each other as they slowly moved north in President Channel. The larger group was made up of the J11, J14, J19, and J22 matrilines. It was still sad to see the J22s without Doublestuf J34. The other group was made up of the J16s and they were closer to the Orcas Island shoreline. The J17s and Onyx L87 were not accounted for and had split off from the rest of the pod.
The two groups then moved away from each other as the J16s continued around Point Doughty, Orcas Island, while the J11s, J14s, J19s, and J22s aimed for Patos Island. Both groups woke up soon after with multiple breaches, belly flops, spy hops, tail slaps, and cartwheels. The J11s, J14s, J19s, and J22s moved further away and eventually disappeared in the choppy seas and rain.
The J16s headed east between Sucia and Orcas Island and eventually, Mike J26 split off from them and aimed for the channel between Patos and Sucia Island. After a while, the rest of the J16s also turned in that direction. The now spread out J11s, J14s, J19s, and J22s re-appeared with some making their way along the Sucia Island shoreline, while others were further out in the channel. The J16s paralleled the others and they soon all passed Parker Reef heading southeast. The seas quickly deteriorated and we left them as Sonic J52 breached, cartwheeled, and tail slapped next to his mother Alki J36 in sharp 3-5 foot waves and building winds.
On the morning of the 30th, the J16s were spotted in Boundary Pass. That evening, we headed out on our friend’s boat to join them. We arrived on scene a little south of East Point, Saturna Island. The family of six were headed for Boiling Reef. Slick J16, Alki J36, Echo J42, Scarlet J50, and Sonic J52 were closer to shore, while Mike J26 was offshore.
Once they reached Boiling Reef, Mike J26 joined the rest of his family and they went between the reef and Saturna Island. They then continued past Tumbo Island slightly spread out, then re-grouped and moved further out into Georgia Strait. Slick J16, Mike J26, Echo J42, and Scarlet J50 formed a resting group, while Alki J36 and Sonic J52 paired up behind them and also rested. We left them aiming for Texada Island. What a great spring break! See ya'll in the summer!
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