MY ADOPTION ORCA(S)
Polaris was named after the North Star, the navigational star for mariners. Because she has a closed saddle patch on both sides, she was once rather hard to identify. One year she returned with a large tear in the middle of the trailing edge of her dorsal fin. It is not known how she got this tear, but it makes it much easier to identify her.
During the early summer of 1994, Polaris was photographed as she breached playfully near her mom, Princess Angeline. From the photograph it was obvious that Polaris was a female! In March of 1998, Princess Angeline was spotted with her second calf who was given the alphanumeric designation of J-35, and named Tahlequah (pronounced ''Tell-a-kwah''). Because of the younger calf, Polaris was much more apt to do things on her own. Polaris was five years old when Tahlequah, and now at the age of 13, Polaris continued to be seen traveling closely with her mom.
A few years ago, the adults of J Pod were foraging off the south end of San Juan Island. As the adults were busy feeding, the young whales were seen playing. At one point the adults left the area, and Polaris was surrounded by Tahlequah, Rhapsody, Doublestuff, Keet, and Tsuchi. It seemed that Polaris was left to baby-sit the younger whales while their moms continued to forage. Durning this time, Tahlequah seemed to get a bit out of hand, and Polaris was seen to open and close her mouth at her as a reprimand!
Princess Angeline's subgroup spends quit a bit of time with Oreo's subgroup. Princess Angeline and Polaris have helped with her offspring. This has given Polaris the opportunity to practice her mothering skills to hopefully be able to use with her own calves someday.
In September, 2005, Polaris was seen with salmon in her mouth! Not a common sight-one comment was 'she's having a feast.'' She is not camera shy and gives people lots of up-close pass-bys! In early 20006, Polaris was seen with Faith (L-57), Mega (L-41) and Solstice (L-89). Some wonder if she will be having her first calf soon. On July 5th, 2006, Polaris did a full breach just off the shoreline along the west side of the island!
She continues to be on spunky, playful whale as she is observed from shore in 2007. Coming in close, into the kelp, playing with the other whales or surfacing unision with mom and sister. Again this year she has been seen with Faith, Mega, Solstice and even several times with Shachi and her calf Eclipse. Maybe she is sharpening her mothering skills.
Polaris (Left) and J-27 Blackberry (male) (from orcanetwork)
Polaris near Lime Kiln Lighthouse
Polaris Crusing again
POLARIS' FAMILY TREE (at bottom left)
Onyx is named after the gemstone which generally has a beautiful black color, very similiar to that of a killer whale. This whale has a large fingerlike mark on the left side of his saddle patch, and the saddle patch is closed on the right side with a narrow finger. Both sides are soft grey in color. the "white" on the saddle patches vary from whale to whale. Although Onyx's mother Olympia had 5 offspring, Onyx, and his older sister Spirit are the only survivors. Onyx is easy to pick out among the other males in Olympia's subgroup, due to his small size. Even though his nephew Solstice is a year younger, he is larger than Onyx. Regardless of his small size, Onyx spends a good deal of time rough housing around with Solstice and Skana. July of 2000, researchers on a boat were observing Olympia, Onyx, and Solstice. They soon witnessed Olympia initiate a very long dive. When she finally surfaced, she breached twice. It was unclear whe she had done this until Onyx and Solstice surfaced with her. The two were both rolling around and tail slapping, while she was lying at the surface. When Onyx tried to roll over onto mom, she slapped her tail twice and dove. On the next surfacing, they were traveling tight and play time seemed to be over!
Part of L pod was seen near Monterey, California in the year of 2000 and again in 2003. Onyx may habve been there with his family, although it is uncertain where L pod typically travels during the late winter and early spring, tese two sightings have let do speculation that they may enjoy trips to California during this time.
The pod returned to the San Juan Island region in late May of 2004, and again in 2005. Onyx was beginning his "fin sprout", this is when a male's dorsal fin begins to grow taller than it is wide, and may be six feet tall by the time he is 20 years old. Onyx travels in the company of the L-12s, a subgroup of L pod. The L-12s have five males, and six females. Mega (L-41), has the largest dorsal fin of the group. Onyx's nephew Skana has the next tallest dorsal fin. Solstice and distant cousin Mystery (L85), are just a bit ahead of Onyx in sprouting. One day in the summer of 2005, these males passed close to the rocky shoreline on the west side of San Juan Island. 2006 brought some possible adjusting to this subgroup because Olympia had dissapeared in the fall of 2005, and was presumed dead in 2006. Onyx has since then, been staying close to his sister and nephews.
J and L pods were seen off the coast of California in March 2007. They returned to the inland waters of the Salish Sea in June. When L pod got together with J pod, Onyx was seen spending time with Polaris (J-28), and her family. Onyx and Polaris were born around the same time and are most likely playmates from way back. Some days in 2007 when Onyx was expected to be seen with L pod, he would show up with the whales in J pod! He really likes to get around! In december he was seen with K pod in Puget Sound, when the rest of L pod were way down off the coast of California!
Skana and Uncle Onyx!
Onyx's Family Tree (in L32's subgroup)