May 16th, 2013
|T-63 aka Chainsaw|
It is quiet on the water this morning. Departure is at 0930. We have 30 passengers from Boulder, Colorado, 26 of which are middle school students who have been studying marine biology during the school year! The last sighting of Orca whales was 9 p.m. last night. No one has seen them this morning. Yet. Our hopes are high.
Leaving the dock we slip up San Juan Channel to the north. When the last boat left the whales last night, they were headed north. We are one of the first boats out this morning so now to keep a sharp eye out, binoculars at the ready, listen carefully to radio chatter and think like a whale!
By 11:30 we are searching the coast of Saturna Island in Canada. No whales. The tide is high. No seals hauled out. We do find several groups of Harbor porpoise diving in deeper water. With fog lifting our visibility gets better and better. At Boiling Reef a few Steller sea lions are hauled up, waving their massive heads back and forth and letting go with loud roars. In the midst of all that noise loud barking sounds replace the roars. Four California sea lions are in the middle of the Steller sea lions trying for a space of their own.
With our thoughts still on finding J pod, who we were lucky enough to be with yesterday, we take a last look across and up Georgia Strait. We will look for five more minutes, and then it’s time to turn around. Suddenly Captain Nate points to shore!! He is smiling…really smiling! Whales! And as it turns out, not J pod whales at all…..but Transient killer whales. And not just any Transient whales, but…a whale I have been hoping to see for years!
|Chainsaw and a T-65 whale cruise past Tumbo Island|
My jaw drops open! What a remarkable fin and here I am, right now, looking right at it!
Our passengers catch the excitement of the entire crew and rush to the side decks and bow. Cameras snap, breaths catch with each surfacing and blow.
Today Chainsaw, who has a recorded birth year of 1978, travels with four other whales, the T-65’s. One of these whales, T-65B has a very definite nick at the base of her dorsal fin.
|T-65B(1993) in the lead|
I’m not sure “who” the other whale with her is as I don’t get a good photograph or look at the saddle patch or a close up of the fin.
Once again, time on the whale clock speeds by. We are already way past out turn around time. We escort the “starts of our trip” back around the reef where all the seals and sea lions are hauled out. There is a little foraging action by the whales, but generally they start west in Boundary Pass.
We stick with Chainsaw a little longer as we are all heading toward home now together. Finally we have to turn south….everyone smiling about our luck.
By the end of the day, yesterday’s whales have gone unreported! Where could they be? While it’s always great to see “old friends”….it’s AMAZING to make new acquaintances….especially when you least expect it!
So, with rain predicted all week, the fog lifts by 11:00 and the sun pokes out for the afternoon. With Resident whales appearing yesterday they prove hard to find, and we literally stumble across Transients. The Transients turn out to be very special! And since we are the first boat to spot whales today we are deemed “Heros of the Day!”
Hard to beat a day like today! But, then….
|One last look….what a guy!|