On our earlier trip we had already spotted Orcas off the coast of San Juan Island. They had been lazily milling about and when we returned we joined up with the “Cookie” group from J-Pod. This consists of a family of whales named Oreo (J22), Doublestuf (J34) and Cookie (J38). Oreo is the mother of Doublestuf and Cookie, both young males. Doublestuf is currently a ‘sprouter’ and is 14 years old. This means his dorsal fin is just starting to grow to it’s full height of 6 feet, just as teenage boys start growing in their adolescence. In the wild these fins grow tall and straight, but you have likely noticed the flopped over dorsal fins of orcas in captivity. In the wild orcas are able to dive deeply and swim in mostly straight lines. In captivity, orcas swim in circles and often prefer one direction over another. Shallow water depths and repetitive circling mean gravity is able to act on the soft cartiledge of the dorsal fins. They collapse to one side before they are able to harden. The dorsal fins of the orcas today, however, towered three to six feet over the surface of the water each time they came up to breathe. We left these majestic animals excited from our encounter and headed to Trial Islands to visit the harbour seals hauled out on the rocks. These cute, wide eyed seals are related to dogs and are essentially ‘sea-dogs’. Calm waters and successful sightings made this an exciting trip for all!
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.