Guests boarded the Kestrel in hopes of finding Killer Whales and positive reports gave us just enough excitement to boat over to Iceberg Point. We travelled at 35knots as we moved towards the whales, taking a quick pit stop to check out harbor seals. Once arriving on scene we were excited to find J2 – Granny leading the J-Pod of killer whales. Granny is 105 years old this year and the oldest killer whale known! She currently travels with her grandkids, great-grandkids and great, great-grandkids. She led the pod from Iceberg Point to Hannah Heights on the west side of San Juan Island. Guests got amazing looks at the speed of travel and the physical diversity of the J-Pod members. In addition to travelling, we were lucky enough to see L-87, a member of L-Pod who travelling within a miles range, breach twice!
Guests asked what might cause a male, especially from L-Pod, to be travelling alone and near J-Pod. Scientists speculate that because males need a considerable amount of food, in comparison to females, they have learned solo foraging methods. Killer whales frequently cooperatively feed; however, once the females and calves are full they will stop hunting even if the male is still hungry.
Overall it was an amazing trip that highlighted intricate social structures and unique behaviors.