Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The "Other" Residents.....

From May to October, there are three pods of resident Orcas commonly seen in the Northwest Washington Area. The three pods are known as J-Pod, having about 28 individuals; K-Pod, having about 19 individuals; and L-Pod having about 54 individuals. They are classified as the Southern Resident Community and are found in southern BC and Washington. One of the pods stays in the general area of the San Juan Islands and Salish Sea all year long. Those are residents of J-Pod. In the winter, K & L-pods travel more widely in the outer coastal waters being observed as far south as Monterey, California and as far north as Langara, Queen Charlotte Island. During the summer, K & L-pods are seen throughout the Northwest Washington area, including San Juan Islands and areas of British Columbia.

To my knowledge, I only encountered members of J & L-Pod on my trip. Some photos of the Orcas are unidentifiable, but I am 99% sure that I only saw members of J & L-Pod.

So... let's meet them! :)

J-1 (Ruffles). Ruffles is the oldest male in J, K, L-Pods with an estimated birth date of 1951. His dorsal fin is approximately 6-feet and it's quite wavy. He is the most photographed and filmed Orca and in fact, was one of the Orcas in the wild in the movie "Free Willy". Ruffles is also anti-social and quite mellow, traveling mostly alone, and at times leads the pod a 1/2 mile or so out from the others.

J-8 (Spieden). Spieden is a female with an estimated birth date of 1933. She is very distinctive from other Orcas due to her wheezing sound when breathing through her blowhole.

J-14 (Samish) Samish is another female with an estimated birth date of 1974. Her grandmother is Granny (J-2) and her great-uncle is Ruffles J-1) who are the two oldest members in the Southern Resident Community. She has had 5 children. The only survivors of her children are: Riptide (J-30), Hy'Shqa (J-37), and Suttles (J-40).

J-27 (Blackberry). Blackberry is a male Orca with an estimated birth date of 1991 and is quite young compared to the others I encountered. Mike (J-26) and Blackberry spend a lot of time together playing as they are both the same age. Blackberry can be a very mischievous teenager.

J-2 (Granny) who is mentioned above. I think one of the breaching photos in the gallery is of Granny, but I am not 100% sure. It seemed like every time she was around, she would breach. Granny is believed to be the oldest female Orca in J, K, and L pods with an estimated birth date of 1911. Like Ruffles, she was also one of the Orcas in the wild in the movie "Free Willy".

(Sorry Granny... No images at this time to share of her...)

L-53 (Lulu). Lulu is a female Orca from L-pod with an estimated birth date of 1977. She is one of the most active whales in L-Pod. She travels mainly with her mother Canuck (L-7).

L-57 (Faith). Faith, despite the name, is a male Orca. His mother, Asterix, died in 1996 leaving Faith as the only member in his immediate family.

Have a great weekend!! :):)

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