Posted by: onboardtourswhales | August 9, 2011

Orcas and Humpback!

Historically, Humpback Whales have been in the Salish Sea! A surprise to see one out at Hein Bank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca Monday August 8, 2011, around 3:30pm. The whale was intent on traveling southwest, surfacing to breathe and swim on in the slack water, minimal ebbing tide!

This morning, Wednesday August 3, 2011, at about 10:20am to 11:00am, great to see the Orca K-13 family off of False Bay, with reports of J-Podders coming from Middle Bank toward Haro Strait, swimming against an ebbing tide! They all joined up and used the next strong flooding tide to get to Swanson’s Bay by Pender Island, Canada, where we saw 2 very large, tightly together, groups of J-Pod & K-Pod killer whales (at least 31!), at about 3:30pm to 4:00pm. They swam near shore, very actively spy hopping, tail-fluke and pectoral fin slapping the surface! A few young whales did cartwheels and swam upside down- sunning their bellies?!

It’s awesome to see all the families in a pod, also to see a family together, like we did Monday August 1, 2011, at about 3:30pm to 4:30pm. L-41 Mega with sisters L-77 Matia and L-94 Calypso, and 2 year old niece Molly Cousteau. L-25, 83 year old Ocean Sun was with them too. She is thought to be Lolita’s mother. Lolita is the last surviving whale of the 45 that were captured from the Southern Resident Killer Whales. She is still in the Miami Seaquarium and needs our help to bring her home… I also wonder if L-25 Ocean Sun might be grandmother, or closely related to L-41 Mega and his sisters, as she is so often sighted with them… L-12 Alexis is the estimated grandmother, but has not been seen with them for a couple of seasons now. L-22 Spirit and her sons L-79 Skana and L-Solstice, and adopted? orphan L-85 Mystery sighted too! These 2 L-Pod families were heading southeast past Pile Point, False Bay to Eagle Point, then turned back, as the orcas often do in this area off San Juan Island, and the way the strong flooding tide moves here in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was like they were intent on scanning and fishing the area. One spy hopped on this calm water, sunny day! On the way past Whale Rocks, we saw Harbor Seals and Steller Sea Lions hauled out, thermo-regulating their warm mammalian blood. In 15 years, I don’t remember Steller Sea Lions here in July, usually here in the spring and fall, are they taking up residency?

Humpback Whale!

L-41 Mega 34 years old and now the oldest male of Southern Residents


  1. When you say “spy”, do you mean one is from a pod that is spying on another pod? Do they keep watch on each other in this manner? I find their behavior so interesting! Caroline, love the names, but you don’t have a 007 as a spy!!!!

    • I don’t know how that word, spy hopping, came about, I think sky hopping when I see the behavior! Spy hopping is when a whale is vertical and rises it’s head above the water. Their vision seems to be as good as ours, but acoustical processing is their primary sense; so their world and communication is through vocalizations, echolocations, and hearing. The oceans are great sound conductors! Killer Whales, Orcas do lift their eyes above the water, may be taking a look around, but Gray and Humpback Whales often have their eyes just below the surface, while their big, long rostrums are above water. Maybe they are checking out the top of the water column? because they will often do a circular turn in that position. Also, whale eyes are not binocular, like our human eyes are. Fascinating to imagine seeing different views through each eye… So to answer your question, pods are groups of families together, spending their entire lives in these family and/or related groups. They may be looking for mom or relatives, or navigating, or just enjoying the sky! The Whale Museum accepts name suggestions for the the new calves, so you can submit 007! 🙂

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