July 22, 2016 – This morning was a bit blustery, but beautifully bright as we headed out of Victoria harbour and over to the Pile Point on San Juan Island. We had a great look at the J11’s – Blackberry, Tsuchi and Mako. These three siblings lost their mom back in 2008, and have banded together to help each other out ever since. They are rarely seen far apart. Mako, the youngest, kept us entertained by lying on his back and slapping his tail flukes on the water again and again, giving us a good look at his white underside and big, powerful flukes. Blackberry, the elder brother, kept a weathered eye on his little bro as they passed by Marauder IV. After a pleasant look at the whale family of three, we steamed back to the harbour through some adventurous seas!
In the afternoon we again traveled to the west side of San Juan Island where we met more members of J pod. As we arrived and drifted slowly near other boats 3 whales suddenly surfaced in front of the Marauder and swam past the boat just below the surface – clearly visible to all on board. An incredible sight. On the way back to Victoria we stopped near Chatham Island and pulled up a piece of Bull Kelp – a common marine algae (seaweed) along the Pacific coast of North America. Bull Kelp grows incredibly fast attaining a length of 30 metres (100 ft) in just one summer! It’s an annual plant so dies off each winter with new plants starting to grow in the spring. Kelp is extremely important to marine animals and humans alike. For many marine animals kelp forests provides habitat, protection and food just as forests on land do. Kelp is also used in the production of many everyday items such as toothpaste, cosmetics, hair conditioners, bread dough, salad dressings, mustard, ketchup and many medicines to name just a few. It can also be eaten as is – a few brave passengers tried a taste. Most agreed it’s pretty good. Most people use or eat something with kelp in it everyday. Perhaps the most important thing that marine algae provide is oxygen. It’s estimated that marine algae produce 70 – 80 percent of all oxygen on Earth. In other words we can’t live without it!