Sunday, June 2, 2013

Whale I'll be darned

I went on Soundwatch today, and boy oh boy did I see a lot of whales! It started off with seeing J pod and part of L pod as they were doing the West Coast Shuffle.

The West Coast Shuffle is when the Orcas go up and down the west coast of San Juan Island looking for salmon. There are three pods in the San Juan Islands, J pod, K pod, and L pod. They are what are known as Southern Resident Killer Whales and J, K, and L pod are considered endangered. But aren’t Orcas around the world doing well, Sarah, you may ask. How can these be considered endangered?

My friends, I shall tell you: there is not one type of killer whale, but three. They are called transients, offshores, and residents. Resident killer whales are whales that live in a particular area. The whales here are Southern Residents, which mean they go up a little bit into Canada, but don’t really go anywhere else, except for the ocean to follow salmon. The point is they mainly stay here: in the San Juan Islands. These Southern Residents only eat fish and were some of the most heavily hit by the captures for SeaWorld and aquariums during the 1960s and ‘70s. About a third of the population was taken away, and since Southern Residents only interact with Southern Residents, there are now only 83 whales where there used to be around 200. This is why they are endangered.
Eric, leader of Soundwatch
Among the whales, there are also transients and offshores. Transients are the killer whales that eat marine mammals, such as other whales, seals, porpoises, etc., etc. They travel in small groups all around. Transients are probably the reason why killer whales are called killer whales. Offshores are pretty much a mystery. They live, as the name implies, offshore and not much research has been done on them. It is thought that they might eat sharks, though. This is determined by the wear and tear on their teeth when the rare offshore body is found.

And now a pretty island

But back to Soundwatch today: the killer whales were not the only whales present: I also saw a humpback. It was so cool! My camera was acting up, but I managed to get a few shots. I also saw the flukes of the tail, but my camera would not cooperate, so you will unfortunately not get to see that magnificent sight. But it was awesome!

All in all, I spent about 8 hours on the water today. WOW.

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