JULY 7, 2016 – This morning was amazing with lots of breaching Humpback Whales. The Marauder IV headed west towards Race Rocks, then turned south and caught up with six or seven Humpbacks in the Juan de Fuca Strait. The group included a calf who was breaching repeatedly. The whales were striking the surface of the water with their huge pectoral fins – a form of non-verbal communication between the whales. Sometimes they would raise one of their pectoral fins into the air and let it drop. Other times they forcefully slapped the water with their fins creating a much louder sound. The calf seemed to be having fun breaching repeatedly, and as we drifted with engines off, it approached to have a look at us. Towards the end of our time with them at least one of the adults started breaching as well. We wondered what kind of force it takes to lift 40 tonnes of whale out of the water. It’s an awe-inspiring sight. After leaving the Humpback whales we went to Race Rocks, an ecological reserve with abundant wildlife. Race Rocks is also the northernmost breeding site of the Northern Elephant Seal. Male Elephant Seals grow to a length of 5 metres and can weigh two and a half tonnes. At Race Rocks we saw many Harbour Seals, including seal pups, a Sea Lion, and lots of sea birds. Overall a great morning.
As the Marauder IV was leaving the harbour for the afternoon trip Captain Dave got word that there were Orcas traveling along the west side of San Juan Island so we headed to Haro Strait. The Marauder caught up with the “A group” of J-pod just north of False Bay on San Juan Island. This is one of two family groups in J-pod and includes J-2, a.k.a. “Granny” the oldest Orca in the Southern Resident Group at an estimated age of 105 years. Average life expectancy for a female Killer Whale is 50 – 60 years. Also traveling with this group is “Onyx”, a large male from L-pod. Onyx (L-87) is the only current member of the Southern Resident group known to have changed pods. Born into L-pod in 1992 Onyx’s mother L-32 died in 2005. A resident Killer Whale will stay with the pod they were born into for their entire life. When their mother dies they travel with other relatives in their pod. However when his mother died in 2005, Onyx moved to K-pod – a very rare occurrence. He stayed with K-pod until 2010 when he moved again, this time to J-pod. Today he is seen travelling with Granny and the rest of J-pod.
Another great day on the water. For more pictures from the fantastic day, please visit our Facebook page!