Close Encounter of the Cetacean Kind, Part 1

The resident orcas here in the Pacific Northwest are like Rockstars. Sadly, the pod is dwindling. Some of their relatives are in fact the whales of Seaworld. If you’ve seen Blackfish, much of the original tragic kidnapping takes place in these very waters.

We all know how much I love dolphins and that I make the Bahamas my mecca each year. I did get my dolphin trip in this year and then I thought, here are these Orcas, right here, in the hood, and I don’t even visit them. They are of the dolphin family, so it made sense that I pay them a visit. I even have family in the San Juan Islands, what have I been thinking? I have gone on a commercial whale trip and by chance saw the Superpod a few years back. It was magical to see from afar. But this specific trip was very special and unique.

And, I feel like I made some new friends. I met members from the J, K & L pod. And, the Superpod was together again. This time I was much closer. In fact, we had a close encounter of the Cetacean kind. Of the days I was out on the water, we were among easily 40-60 whales.

All over the world, cetaceans have signature sounds, songs that they send through the ocean. These songs are literally their voice, identification and persona wrapped into one. Then a family, or a pod has its own song. This is how they find each other. It’s also, how we have come to identify where they come from, who they belong to as in pod members, as well as understanding their migration patterns.

The J pod has its own song, the K pod has its own song and the L pod has its own song. When they all come together, they make up a Superpod. (I don’t know who does harmony……) The Superpod makes up to close to 90 whales in total. There are plenty of other pods that come through the area as well as transient orcas. The J, K & L pods are the residents.

Last week, while hanging out with my new whale friends, one whale came over and swam under the boat. In the series of pictures, you can see, the approach from one (port) side, and coming up from under the bow on the other (starboard) side of the boat. It was beyond thrilling. And, it was my birthday!


I went to the whale museum in Friday Harbor and found two fellows that have similar markings.

Perhaps you can help me figure out who came to say Happy Birthday! Then, maybe I should adopt him!

whale adoption

Did you know you can adopt from the J, K & L pods of Orcas?

Do we think I met Blackberry or Lobo?

I hope to make a visit to the J, K & L pod part of my migration pattern each year. Because I love close encounters of the cetacean kind!

Related Articles