As the sun rose on the morning of 9/12/13, members of all three Southern Resident orca pods made their way up the West side of San Juan Island towards the Fraser River to the North. Over these last few weeks J, K and L pod have been really sticking to the Fraser, occasionally coming back down to San Juan. At the moment it looks like the orcas are feasting on the Chinook salmon that are heading for the river to spawn. The humungous amount of rain fall recently most likely helped the salmon locate their birth river since we had such dry weather and the fish can't smell the river without some rain water helping to push down sediment. I caught a ride with San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours and San Juan Safaris and was able to see all of J and K pod with some L pod members mixed in there too as they headed for the Fraser.
It's been so great seeing J, K and L pod on a regular basis recently. My days are winding down to when I leave for my freshman year at Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington, and I hope I get to see these guys one more time so I can say goodbye. Hopefully all of them will be accounted for next summer, plus a few new babies. Crossing my fingers!
Melisa Pinnow grew up on San Juan Island in Washington State. She recently graduated from Evergreen State College with a Bachelor of Science in marine biology and ornithology. She is a certified marine naturalist for San Juan Excursions and also works at the Center for Whale Research. It is her hope that sharing her orca encounters will inspire others to love and protect these magnificent creatures for generations to come.