J17 and J22 subpod
Breaches and spyhops galore
After a quick turnaround in between trips we headed out hoping to be able to catch up with J-pod again in Holmes Harbor. We kept our eyes out for Gray Whales though, and Capt. Carl managed to spot gray whale 723 swimming around to the east of Hat Island. We spent about 15 minutes watching him as he changed directions a few times, then raised his tail flukes up a bit as if to wave goodbye. That was our clue to peel off and continue to the north.
Our next stop was at Baby Island where we found about 20 harbor seals frolicking around in the water. As we watched a bald eagle got harassed by some gulls in the background! Into Holmes Harbor we went, and we had to go almost all the way to Freeland Park in order to catch up with the same J-pod orcas we watched during the first trip, the J17 and J22 subpods! Things got interesting almost as soon as we arrived with about three spyhops by various orcas! Then they all seemed to settle down a bit and just started meandering to the east. Just as it was approaching time for us to go, the action really began. One of the J-pod females came shooting straight out of the water in a HUGE spyhop! Wow! Then the tailslapping began. Out of nowhere J34, Doublestuf shot out of the water with a breach! Water was flying everywhere, and he followed it up with 4 more breaches!!! What an amazing display of orca acrobatics!!
We were all in awe of what we had just seen, and it made the long trip to Holmes Harbor worth every minute!
On the way back toward the dock we even got one last glimpse of a gray whale near Hat Island again! We are all left to wonder what possessed members of J-pod to hang out in Holmes Harbor yesterday and today. Indeed they didn’t appear to be doing any fishing while we watched them on either one of our trips from Everett today. Our visits with them seemed to be focused on socializing, play, and rest. What a surprising and amazing day!!! Naturalist Bart Rulon