Posted by: onboardtourswhales | September 8, 2009

Killer Whales Traveling San Juan Channel

Keeping Up with the Big Guys!
Keeping Up with the Big Guys!
Hey-Wait Up!

Hey-Wait Up!

L-Pod Families

L-Pod Families

L-73 Flash and Friends

L-73 Flash and Friends

September 4, 2009

About a dozen or more L-Pod whales (L-5, L-73, L-74, L-84, L-25, L-12, L-41, L-77, L-94), came through Cattle Pass into San Juan Channel, where we watched them off of Griffin Bay, at about 1:25pm, as they hugged Lopez Island, slowly heading north with a strong flood tide. They stayed together, pausing many times, as if deciding where to go next! We wondered if they would go into Upright Channel, but no- as a group they instantly, fluidly turned and swam along Shaw Island until Parks Bay, where they turned west, north, then back south retracing their route. Now it is about 3:40pm and we are right outside of Friday Harbor. We heard reports and could see another group of whales- K’s? further south in the channel, who had made it to Reid Rock by this time. They lingered and seemed to be foraging in the tide rips there. Reports were that J’s were with them earlier, but did not go through Cattle Pass. (Despite my mixing up L-73 Flash with J-1 Ruffles- L-73 sure has the same wavy dorsal fin!!) Such a rare occurrence, and a treat, to see these whales in this channel, especially L’s & K’s without the J’s- who spend the most time in these waters. We only saw one spy hop, and a few of the youngsters roll and show their pectoral fins, no other surface behaviors other than traveling and a little foraging. They way they swam so slowly and stopped frequently appeared as if they were hesitant and unfamiliar with this channel. I went to the Cattle Point Lighthouse at 6:10pm, to see the whales, now in 2 groups and the tide is starting to ebb, go south along Goose Island through the pass toward the southwest. There were 2 Bald Eagles on Goose Island and 2 Stellar Sea Loins in the water watching with me! The orcas picked up speed as they rounded Cattle Point, so I went up the road to the South Beach overlook, where they spread out halfway between shore and Hein Bank, heading west at 7:06pm. These unusual sightings are one of the reasons we love September whales!!


  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

    • Thanks for the kind words and support! Trying to catch up, post, and add photos soon. Working on my comments of NOAA proposed regulations… Caroline

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