The next day, J and K pod were at the Fraser River but began to make their way back South again. L pod started to head for the open ocean through the Strait of Juan De Fuca but then the orcas changed their minds and turned around, aiming back for San Juan Island. On the 21st, J pod was back at the Fraser, while K pod had split off from J and returned to San Juan Island. L pod then decided to officially leave for the open ocean.
The next morning, J pod was not at the Fraser, but in Swanson Channel, headed right back to the Fraser. However, that night, the pod turned around again and headed South. On the morning of the 23rd, J pod was headed out the Strait of Juan De Fuca for the open ocean but the orcas turned around and were back at San Juan Island a few hours before sunset. That evening, I headed to some cliffs near my house to see the orcas as they socialized and hunted for salmon along the coast line. Two females named Alki J36 and Tsuchi J31 were closest to me, while Rhapsody J32 was a little further out, breaching occasionally, and Mike J26 was really far offshore. At one point Alki did a big spy hop.
One unfortunate thing happened during this Lime Kiln encounter: the behavior from private boaters and purse seiners was pretty bad. Nearly every vessel literally drove right over/through the orcas at a good speed or was within the 200 yard restriction, which applies to all vessels (including kayaks). Whether the operators knew the laws or not, who knows. Luckily, no J, K, or L pod member was harmed. I hope that next time these people are on the water, they view the orcas from the correct and respectful distance. To learn more about how to watch the orcas respectfully out on the water, click here.
Towards the end of the encounter, the J17's and L47's came right up to the shoreline and played in the kelp just a few feet away. I returned home a few minutes before seven and had ended up seeing around sixty four of the seventy eight Southern Resident orcas.
This is the second time that Onyx L87 has split from Group A and traveled with other Southern Resident matrilines. I wonder if this will turn into a regular thing for him?
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