Sunday, July 08, 2012

Resident Orcas & a Minke Whale in the afternoon! June 29th, 2012

This afternoon we headed to the west side of San Juan Island where we had a wonderful encounter with Resident Orcas (J-Pod) and a Minke Whale!

We had only just arrived on scene and were watching several Orcas a 1/4 mile in shore when a Mink Whale popped up out of no where just over a 100 yds from our boat! It surfaced several more times then made a deep dive and was not seen again.

As we continued to watch the Orcas several of them came further off-shore and it was obvious they were in foraging mode (hunting fish). We watched one male in particular, J26 "Mike", actively foraging for salmon and it was an impressive sight watching him twist & turn at high speed as he tracked down the Salmon.

Resident Orcas use their own biological form of sonar called "Echolocation" to hunt the Salmon. The use high frequency sonar clicks to track the Salmon and can even turn this into a higher frequency buzz to stun the Salmon when they get close enough. It is a very efficient and effective system!

We continued to watch J26 "Mike" fish for Salmon for several minutes and he has become an excellent hunter. J26 is named after Biologist Michael Bigg, who was the first person to realize Orcas could be identified using their dorsal fins and saddle patch.

Before we headed home we also saw J26's Mom, J16 "Slick" and his little sister J42 "Echo".

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