This morning I got a text from my neighborhood whale friend that J Pod was headed our direction (Ballard). Late out the gate (had to make my girlfriend break-y) I headed North to see them and watched them swing by Richmond Beach (near shoreline) and around the bend to Edmonds. This was a good decision- they were slightly on our side of the channel, but binoculars were necessary and IDing was impossible. This was my first time seeing J Pod, and several things were interesting compared to the transients:
-They travel much much more spread out- easily over half a mile. This made it sort of hard for boats to avoid them and obey the rules, although one boat definitely was right on top of them, I hope it was a research vessel (very small, bright orange).
-It was hard to say, because of the spread, but I would guess there were 20-25 of them . Some huge males, but most looked like female or adolscents.
-They seemed much more active- I saw so many breaches and tail slaps, waves. I hope this just means they are well fed.
After I thought they had all passed, I walked back to my truck and gave the area one more look. I spotted one blow in the opposite direction (south)- there was a lone orca about 2.25 miles behind the last of the pack I had seen go out of sight. I was up on the bluff and watched it mill about for about 5 minutes- it was much closer so I could see detail in its dorsal fin, and hear its breathing (amazing).
I then decided to drive down to the beach proper to see if I could get it up close since it was only about 300 feet offshore. I got there in about 4 min and it was now slowly headed north, presumably to catch up with the rest of J Pod. Life goal achieved.