Southern Residents in the San Juans

We left the dock this afternoon crossing our fingers that we would catch up with our Southern Residents, on a once again gorgeous sunny day in the San Juan Islands. It was a long trek to Canadian waters (against the tide no less!) but we had the beautiful scenery and talk of whales and tales to keep us entertained. We were lucky enough to see several harbor porpoises doing a bit of fishing, with some following uncharacteristically close in our wake! Our journey was rewarded when we met up with some residents hanging close to the shoreline of N. Pender. After a bit of observation we concurred that we were with J16 Slick, her youngest offspring J42 Echo, a three year old female, and her oldest, 19 year old J26 Mike. There was fourth whale among them, though we were unable to determine whether this was her daughter Alki or son Keet. It’s interesting to note that like many killer whale moms, there is a large age difference between her oldest and youngest, which stems from her ability to reproduce at about 14 years of age, and lasting into her 40’s or 50s. Since Mike was not born until she was 19, it’s possible that this was not Slicks first calf. Though she was never spotted with a baby prior to Mike, it’s quite common for a mother’s first calf to succumb to illness due to a life-long buildup of toxins in its mothers fat rich milk, which is passed on to the newborn. Fortunately with each new baby the mother is able to flush her body’s toxins out so that her next calf will have a lower dose to deal with. On our way back home we spotted a bald eagle and several Canadian geese! Thanks to our guests for making the exciting journey with us!
Naturalist, Heather Hill

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We have not finalized our 2021 trip dates yet: please contact us with your desired trip dates so we can work to accommodate your request.