August 9, 2016 – This morning Marauder IV headed east under cloudy skies towards San Juan Island in Washington state. Arriving at the west side of San Juan Island, we saw killer whales from J-Pod spread out over a large area. When feeding on salmon, they spread out and hunt individually staying in contact with family members with loud underwater vocalizations that travel several kilometres under water. Shortly after arriving at the island, we noticed a mother with a calf. It turned out to be an L-Pod female named Polaris with her calf J54 (yet to be named). Also with them was Polaris’s other calf, Star (J46). J54 was born in December 2015. By the end of December, there were eight new calves in J-Pod and L-Pod — a much welcome baby boom for an endangered population of killer whales. After leaving San Juan Island, we stopped just off Chatham Island to talk about Bull Kelp, a seaweed that can grow 30 metres in one summer. Then it was on to the Chain Islets, a group of rocks home to seals, seagulls and cormorants. There were lots of seal pups and seagull chicks – fluffy grey balls that can’t yet fly. One chick was jumping up and down and beating its wings, practising for the big day when it finally lifted off and flew.
The afternoon trip was similar to the morning. As we left Victoria Harbour we got word that J-Pod whales were still on the westside of San Juan Island so we headed there to see which whales were still feeding in the area. Again we found Polaris and L54. Also in the area was Blackberry (J27) a large male who is often seen in these waters. With his tall dorsal fin and distinctive markings on his saddle patch he is easy to spot. On the way back, we again stopped at Chain Islets to look at seals and seabirds. A great day was had by all.