We spotted a large dorsal fin about halfway between Point Roberts, USA, and East Point on Saturna Island, BC, a little over an hour after leaving our home port. The whale turned out to be J27 (Blackberry), and we trailed him downwind and at a distance of more than 400 meters for about 30 minutes – until Soundwatch contacted us on the radio to say they had a group of 3 animals grouped up close to the beach near Point Roberts. We decided to head inshore to find the group, hoping that more whales might up our chances of finding a sample. By the time we arrived, the whales had headed offshore, spread out, and commenced foraging.

Over the course of the entire encounter, we were never with more than two animals, with their next nearest neighbor being several hundred to several thousand meters away. Indeed, as we scanned the area looking for another group to follow, we saw whales breaching several miles to the west of our location, along the northeast coast of Galiano Island.

Since J pod returned to the inland waters of the Salish Sea on May 31st, researchers from both the Center for Whale Research and SR3 have noted the whales as being spread out, indicating the whales are spending a lot of their behavioral time budget foraging far apart from one another, most likely to increase the possibility of finding the Chinook salmon or other prey items that are themselves, few and far between.
Given the increasing oncoming winds and flooding tides, we returned back to Snug Harbor.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena


Southern Resident Killer Whales


J Pod

Research Activities

Fecal Collection, Behavior Data