J Pod Returns

Blackberry, Photo by Katie Jones, Courtesy Orca Network

Islanders and whale watch fans were all abuzz last Sunday with the return of our favorite, J-pod. Orca Network reports they were shuffling and frolicking while foraging along the west side of San Juan Island. Fortunate kayakers and land-based whale watchers had the thrill of their lives with the pod member’s antics – splashing around, swimming in tight circles, breaching, tail slapping, flipping salmon in the air and evidently more.

Equally rewarding is the news from Naturalist Sandra Pollard aboard Mystic Sea, “Although the whales were well spread out, two spending time happily together and sharing a freshly caught salmon were Hy’Shqa (J37) and her son, J 49 – such a delight to see this little one has made it safely through the winter.”

Adult Male Orca Tail Lob 15 Feet From Shore, Photo by Rachel Haight, Courtesy Orca Network

Graduates of the Spring 2013 Marine Naturalists Training at the Whale Museum had just finished their graduation ceremony when reports came in that J pod was on the hydrophones. They immediately headed over to the west side. Alisa Lemire Brooks wrote, “…youngsters J38 Cookie, J44 Moby and J47 Notch engaged in much tactile behavior very close to shore where we could see them quite beautifully underwater. They continued their engagements & rituals further up at Lime Kiln as did we. I heard above water vocals for the first time and was privileged to see “sea snakes” on a couple of occasions. The pod engaged in just about every tactile and active behavior imaginable. I feel completely blessed to have witnessed their bonds and culture in such an intimate and beautiful place. A dream encounter come true.”

These photos are from the Orca Network Whale Sighting Report. If you can’t see the whales in person, this is the next best thing. You can sign up to receive their reports, learn about efforts to free Lolita (a Southern Resident in captivity), and keep up on the latest news and events on the Orca Network website.



J Pod at West Side Preserve, Photo by Dave Haas, Courtesy Orca Network

J34 at Lime Kiln, Photo by Center for Whale Research, Courtesy Orca Network

Member of J Pod Forges Through Bull Kelp at Lime Kiln State Park, Photo by Rachel Haight, Courtesy Orca Network

Tight J Pod Group Heading North Past Lime Kiln State Park, Photo by Rachel Haight, Courtesy Orca Netwrok