In the morning, we received reports that Southern Resident killer whales were inbound towards the San Juan Islands. It was a sunny day with mild to medium wind and ideal for collecting fecal samples. Eba, Jim, Giles, Research Assistants Aisha, and Nikhela left the dock to fuel up before meeting the whales. We made contact at around 1:30 pm and got a report from The Center for Whale Research that members of J pod were present.

The whales were spread along the west side of San Juan Island, and we made first contact with a large male near Hannah Heights. Giles identified him as J38. Following our contact with J38, we saw many more members of J Pod exhibiting mixed behaviors from play to logging. We have confirmation that we were with J19, J47, J44, J53, and the J16s. Between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, we observed a lot of breaching, tail slaps, and pec slaps. Additionally, we observed modified rest, with some whales coming together to log. Around 4:00 pm, Eba hit on a scent, and we found the first fecal sample of the day shortly after.

Between 5:15-5:25 pm, we collected another sample offshore of the San Juan Island County Park. The scent of the fecal matter was so strong even we could smell it! We returned to our home port around 6:00 pm and froze the samples after additional processing in the evening.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena


Southern Resident Killer Whales


J Pod

Research Activities

Fecal Collection, Behavior Data