There are three amazing encounters I want to highlight since my last update. The first was on September 17th. As I stood along the rocky shoreline at Lime Kiln State Park, J pod (minus the J17s and J22s), the K14s, and K16s were slowly swimming past in social groups. Then one group, consisting of the J11s, J14s, and J16s came right into the kelp! You could see their entire bodies underwater as they glided past just feet from shore! This is the type of encounter you dream about happening at Lime Kiln!
Another encounter took place on August 3rd. I was watching part of the J17s, Suttles J40, Se-Yi’-Chn J45, and some of the K12s from the cliffs near my house. The rest of J pod, the K14s, K13s, and the L12s were also around, spread out before me for miles. The first close pass by was from Tahlequah J35, Suttles J40, Se-Yi’-Chn J45, and Notch J47. The four of them were in a tight resting line as they slowly passed by super close to shore. A little while later, Tahlequah J35, Suttles J40, and Notch J47 came back to the cliffs and joined up with Princess Angeline J17 and J53 and everyone logged at the surface together in a line, except for J53 who did not want to rest and kept darting around! I had never seen so many individuals log at the surface together in a line so this was a very unique sight for me to see. The logging group then woke up and Notch J47 breached. Offshore, Sequim K12, Sekiu K22, and Saturna K43 were acting similarly and at one point, Sequim K12 tail slapped a few times.
Something interesting to note is that Suttles J40 and Se-Yi’-Chn J45 ended up staying at the island while the rest of the family (Granny J2, Hy’shqa J37, and Ti’lem I’nges J49) headed north for the Fraser, along with the J16s, J19s, K13s, and K14s. I can’t help but think the loss of Samish J14 has made this family less close-knit.
The third encounter was on August 4th. Aboard the Odyssey of San Juan Excursions, we met up with the J11s, Suttles J40, Se-Yi’-Chn J45, and the L94s as they socialized offshore of South Beach. I love seeing the orcas socialize because they often show their playful sides. Mako J39 and his older brother Blackberry J27 would leave the larger group, mess around, and then rejoin the group again. They did this multiple times. Mako J39 was full of tail slaps and must have done them at least a dozen times. He also rolled onto his side (nearly on top of his brother’s head) and did an inverted tail slap. At one point, Blackberry J27 also did an inverted tail slap. He then laid on his back and slowly sank his lower body so that he became vertical in the water. We could see his giant face just under the water as he seemed to be staring up at the sky! The larger group were also energetic and tactile, with many tail slaps, a few inverted tail slaps, spy hops, and belly flops.
Towards the end of the trip, the group began to disperse. Mako J39 and Blackberry J27 left and went their separate ways. Calypso L94 and Windsong L121 headed north, but Tsuchi J31, Suttles J40, Se-Yi’-Chn J45, and Cousteau L113 continued to roll around together. Suttles J40 then forcefully lifted Cousteau L113 out of the water and the sound if their bodies making contact sounded like two boulders colliding. Cousteau L113 then tail slapped and continued rolling around with Suttles J40 and the other two.
Below is a slideshow that shows some of the photos I took during these three encounters, as well as a few other encounters between August 16th and September 4th. Please do not use my photos without my permission.