On July 16th, the J14s, J19s, K13s, and K14s were up North near the Fraser River in their search for Chinook/King salmon. The next day, those four matrilines were back down at San Juan Island. The J14s, J19s, and K14s then headed back North while the K13s and Onyx L87 remained at the island. On the 18th, the J14s, J19s, and K14s were back at San Juan and were joined by the J11s, J16s, J17s, and the J22s who returned to the island with Onyx L87 and the K13s in tow that evening. To find out who returned, some friends and I headed out on the water. When we departed Snug Harbor, we immediately spotted the J16s and J22s, who were headed North for Kellet Bluff on Henry Island. The orcas were in no hurry as they foraged along the bluff.
We then headed down the South end of San Juan to find the other orcas. We found them spread out offshore of South Beach, starting with Polaris J28 and Star J46, then Yoda K36 with the K13s, followed by Blackberry J27, then Lobo K26, Lea K14, and Tsuchi J31. During our encounter we also saw a minke whale (who was near Blackberry J27) and on our way home, a humpback whale popped up near Eagle Point headed South. As we passed Lime Kiln State Park we bumped into the J16s and J22s again, who had turned around since we had first seen them and were now headed South. J50, born in December of 2014 and part of the J16s, was full of breaches as she went by the park.
We found the J11s, J16s, J17s, J19s, J22s, and L4s in a mosh pit offshore of Andrews Bay, with the K12s inshore of them. During the moshing, Tahlequah J35, Oreo J22, and Star J46 spy hopped, a few of the juveniles (one of them maybe being Finn L116) breached multiple times, Oreo J22 played with some kelp, a few individuals tail slapped. Young males Cookie J38 and Pooka L106, who were a short distance away from the mosh pit, wrestled around together and showed off their sea snakes. Once the moshing was over, all the orcas headed South together.
On the 22nd, the J11s, J16s, J17s, J19s, J22s, shuffled up and down the West side of the island. Later that day, the K12s, K16s, L4s, L26s, L43s, and L47s returned to the island and they formed a big, tight group with the J11s, J16s, J17s, J19s, and J22s right off the cliffs and slowly made their way North. Their slow travel speed also gave me enough time to catch them at two other spots to up the shoreline, including Lank Bank. Many of the orcas were in an active mood as they passed the cliffs. Slick J16, Blackberry J27, Polaris J28, Doublestuf J34, and Cookie J38 played with kelp, Tika K33, Sekiu K22, Jade L118, J50, and few others tail slapped, Tika K33 did an inverted tail slap and a pectoral fin slap, Kasatka L82 lunged past someone who was in the middle of an inverted tail slap, Opus K16 cartwheeled, others did dorsal fin and pectoral fin slaps, and some, including Shachi J19 swam by the cliffs upside down.
When I headed quickly North and caught the group again, Princess Angeline J17, Moby J44, Kasatka L82, and Finn L116 were tactile and rolled around together. J52 practiced some spy peeps and aerial scans, Tahlequah J35 spy hopped, Moonlight L83 dorsal fin slapped, and Cookie J38 tail slapped. I then headed North to Land Bank and caught them again. Most of the orcas were no longer close to shore. Tahlequah J35, Kasatka L82, Sequim K12, and a few others got into a breaching mood and there were many cartwheels from some excited individuals too. Tika K33 did an inverted tail slap again, someone was being tactile with Mystic L115, Mike J26 played with kelp, and somebody tail slapped. That evening, the J14s, K14s, and Onyx L87 came back down from the North and probably had a big party with the rest of the orcas.
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