Under grey skies and with calm seas we headed out to the north end of San Juan Island where J Pod ws reportedly travelling northwards. We we arrived on scene they were in resting mode. Orcas cannot sleep the same way we do because they must make a conscious effort to breathe and therefore they cannot let their entire brain rest at once. When in resting mode they shut off one half of their brain and use the other half to navigate and surface for air. They travel very closely together while resting – which makes for an inspiring scene with several orcas surfacing simultaneously. We followed them up to Boundary Pass where they made the crossing over to Pender Island. We dropped the hydrophone in briefly and there was a large amount of ecolocation occuring – likely as a hunting device. Before they began the crossing their were several spyhops and a couple of tail lobs. Spy hopping is used as a navigation tool for orcas. They have great eye sight even above water and they locate key positions in their journey by spy hopping. The tail lobs are used as a communication device, as well as a hunting tool, and can be performed just for fun too! We had to leave them just as they began waking up unfortunately but it was a great trip out today, and an awesome experience to see J Pod in such a relaxed state.
Most of the images on the blog are shot with a 400 mm & 600 mm telephoto lenses. Because of our restrictions around wildlife (100+ meters), we use powerful lenses to better share orca activity that passengers see on their trips. Keep in mind this also heavily compresses space between objects. We also crop images for best blog viewing.