Please remember that these endangered animals have a large territory to cover, a limited food supply, and have suffered a huge decline in their population over the last century. (Image taken under authority of NMFS permit No. Orca Action Month is a time to celebrate the presence of the Southern Resident orcas in the Salish Sea and take concrete action together for their survival and recovery. San Juan Orcas was also established to offer help identifying individual orcas. Don’t expect the whales to stick around, however – they usually move on from our area around San Juan Island after September in pursuit of the salmon they depend on for survival. Because no two fins or patches are exactly the same due to nicks, scars and a variance in shapes and patterns, researchers use them to identify individual orcas.
The northern minke whale is the smallest of the baleen whales at approximately 25-30 feet in length. No part of the material found on this website may be reproduced or utilized in any form, or by any means, without the prior written consent of the Center for Whale Research. We are proud members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association formerly known as Whale Watch Operators Association Northwest.
The other two southern resident pods, K and L, were not sighted Thursday. The Southern Residents favor the west side of San Juan Island, where we launch the majority of our kayak tours; therefore, we usually have a good chance of seeing them on any of our trips during the summer months. Learn More. This error message is only visible to WordPress admins, Summer Whales and Wildlife in the San Juan Islands, How to Plan your Day Trip to the San Juan Islands this Summer: A First Time Visitor’s Guide. 11:25 - Orcas off of San Juan County Park. Mating occurs between members of different pods when two or more Southern Resident families unite to form “superpods” of up to 150 animals. The primary focus of CWR research is the Southern Resident population of killer whales (orcas). San Juan Island is the easiest place on Earth to spot an orca. This rich marine habitat attracts a local clan of orcas that are among the most studied – and most threatened – marine mammals. After a few years, the salmon return to the very stream they were born in to spawn. The population of Southern Resident orcas, made up of J, K, and L pods, reaches 74 whales with the addition of both J57 and the new orca calf. This 24-member pod tends to frequent the west side of San Juan Island in mid to late spring. Whales typically only leave their designated pod for mating purposes or social play. Until the mid-70s not much was known about the orcas that inhabited the Salish Sea. At one point on Thursday, a crowd of 11 boats was watching the whales surface and splash along the island’s west coast, with dozens more people watching from shore. The Salish Sea includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound, and all their connecting channels and adjoining waters, and the waters around and between the San Juan Islands in Washington State and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. Resident orcas may also eat bottom fish and other salmon species. With a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife law enforcement boat among them, all the boaters stayed outside the voluntary, quarter-mile wide “no-go zone” designed to protect the southern residents, according to Colosimo. Resident orcas are fish eaters – consuming up to 400 pounds of fish per day! J pod had been spotted across Haro Strait, near Victoria, British Columbia, earlier that evening. J Pod most frequently visits the Salish Sea throughout the year, while L Pod seems to prefer the outer coast of Oregon and Washington during the winter. Please support our research and conservation efforts, As of October 2020 the SRKW population totals 74 whales: (Image taken under authority of NMFS permit No. The fecal samples can reveal everything from stress and pregnancy hormones to which rivers the orcas’ salmon diet came from. Click below for our latest info. Orcas are distinctive from other sea creatures due to their characteristic black-and-white patterning, stocky bodies, and large dorsal fins.
L25, (estimated to have been born in 1928) is both the oldest member of L pod and the oldest whale in the Southern Resident community.
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