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Saturday, May 13, 2017

5-13-17 It's the Whales' Story Not Ours

Saturday, May 13th
...in town giving a talk on IDing whales caused me to miss seeing them as they came down from the north...I know what they look like so I could live with that...however...I didn't want to miss pieces of their story...
...thanks to some others who posted that Shachi J-19 was in the lead as some of J Pod passed by close along the west side...I understand that others were spread across Haro Strait...
...getting to the west side as fast as I could...here's my take on what that might look like... :)
...the whales had gotten into what appeared to be a resting group...that resting line wasn't going in any direction, so I waited...and waited...the whales were near the bottom of Discovery Island and still in Haro Strait and were probably 4 miles or more from shore - difficult to tell from where I was except that they were the tiniest of killer whale dots...
...most people wouldn't stay and watch - too far - but there was a fella there watching and he was intent on watching...I liked him right away!
...I remember I had seen him and his wife the day before when the Transients went by...the are from Italy and had come to the U.S. on a trip and part of that trip to was come here to see what 'it was all about'...
...the day before they got a nice close look at the T101s...and today they got a different look and a much longer one...yesterday about 20 minutes and today about 5 hours (no joke!)
...after a good long while some whales ...looked to be heading north, up Haro Strait, but the majority of them appeared to still be grouped up...it was more that I could see so many blows at that distance, and of course the whales in basically the same location...
...that smaller group...they went up...no, now they were heading back toward the group...no, now they were heading up...and that continued on...I would guess they were foraging but I really don't know...
...so we watched and watched...a few of this 'moving about group' got up close to Baynes Channel entrance...
...glad to have my binos on monopod cause I could not have held them up for that long otherwise :)
...so he and his wife were scanning where one whale was, I was scanning where the other was farther north...crazy and totally fun...what else is better to do on a sunny, but cold, day!
..."WOW!" came out of my mouth as a male (it was either Onyx L-87 or Mike J-26 - couldn't tell from that far away)...surfaced 'in my binocs' clearly!! and he wasn't even a tiny killer whale dot!...but that was looking through the 'big eyes'...
...eventually I went home (about 5:30) and heard the whales on the Lime Kiln hydrophones - in the distance - and then when one call got louder (someone was likely just facing in the direction of the HPs) I couldn't stand it and went back down, just to make sure I wasn't going to miss them because I had gotten cold...
...I didn't and they went west...



A piece of their story...they know we don't... ...There is a TREND occurring, but will it continue?...we won't know for a while...
...the Trend (only in relationship to them passing along at/near the lighthouse) is Shachi J-19 is in the lead...today would count as the fourth or fifth time now.
...we'll just keep watching this unfold...

...now it's time for a big shout-out (if that's what it's called) to all the researchers who were involved in the 'before all this technology' studies of these whales.
...they didn't have cell phones, digital cameras, text messaging, a huge network of whale watching people, streaming hydrophones, etc....and they too watched the whales reveal themselves as to who they are and what they are all about...

...as I have mentioned before we are in the beginning of a new era and it is exciting (to me) to be able to watch as the whales reveal their adjustments after so much loss in recent years...
...let's just hope that a piece of that is seeing the whales getting fat and healthy.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

5-7-17 Audio of J Pod from Saturday Encounter at the Lighthouse

The previous post is about the pass by at the lighthouse last Saturday afternoon...

...it was pretty special since the whales had been here a lot in March, a couple days into April and then gone until May 7th...

video

...Hope you enjoy this...it was because of how the whales passed by that made it work so well and with what the last two did, well, that was just perfect - thank you very much whales!




5-7-17 J Pod Returns After Being Gone Five Weeks

Sunday, May 7th
...it was a flat calm seas morning, blue sky, no wind...I was going out-and-about early - no matter what - it had been too long a wet and dreary time and with no word on any J Pod whales since April 4th...well that only added to the dreariness...
...that is until the word came - J Pod inbound!...but would they make it or turn and leave before they got here?...was there enough food to bring them in?...or was there not enough food to keep them on the outer coast?...it's a stressful time for all who love this community of orcas...those who don't know them may not understand...
...so here is how I felt inside, as I think many others did, today when J Pod came past the lighthouse...
...this little one wasn't the first to go by...
~~~~~
...back to the beginning...I saw her leading as they were coming up from about a mile south of the park and I quickly got to the park so I could see who came by in what order...
...it was Shachi J-19 !   This is the 3rd or 4th time she has been in the lead since last fall...
...behind Shachi by about 7 minutes was the rest of her family...
...in the same line as Eclipse and Nova but a bit offshore were Mako J-39 and Se-Yi-Chn J-45...now that is interesting...Mako and Se-Yi-Chn, both young males...hanging out together today...

...next, spread out, and a few minutes behind, were the J17s...Princess Angeline J-17 is the matriarch of this family (the J17 family group of 6 whales)...
...and her 'wildly breaching' little one (see image at top of post) were in the lead...
...Tahlequah J-35, Princess Angeline's oldest living offspring was closer in to shore and her offspring, Notch J-47 and her niece, Star J-46 were behind Tahlequah...Notch was really far offshore and Star was a bit closer in...

...next came...remember Mako J-39 from early on???...well here was his brother and sister...Blackberry J-27 and Tsuchi J-31...
...if the studies of the whales only began now one might think she was his mother and not his sister...but because the studies have gone on for 40 years we know...
...then it was 'intermission' time...it appeared that about 1/2 of J Pod had gone by...so the other half was still to come...we hadn't seen the rest of the J14s, any of the J16s or the J22s, nor had we seen Onyx L-87...
...patience...patience...it usually pays off...
..



...the rest of Slick's family was present too...and some of the J14s...
...I remember when Suttles J-40, one of the J14's was the 'person on the playground' (as I called it) making sure that three month old baby J-50 was keeping up with the rest of the family while mom/grandma tended to new baby J-52 - that was back in 2015...link here to that post.

...some folks asked it that was all...I said I didn't think so, that there might be a few others...

...they were glad they waited! Onyx and Cookie were very close to shore when they passed by along the park and the lighthouse...

...normally I might not do a 'blow by blow' as to who/which/when...but after 33 days of no J Pod, this was definitely much needed...for me...and hopefully for you too!

I understand that all the whales of J Pod were seen today...I did see all but one or two...Dave from the Center for Whale Research was out there all day long and his encounter post will state who all were ID'd...

...the biggest worry for these whales is them getting enough salmon to sustain them...that is what they eat and that is what they need...breaching the 4 lower Snake River Dams, cleaning up the waters, the shoreline habitats, cleaning out gutters and culverts so salmon are not crossing roadways on stormy days (yep - that really happens in Seattle)...and more...
...more and more people are getting involved right in their own neighborhoods - stream restoration, education, whatever it takes to get people aware and take action...
...be part of the solution to help these whales and their and our eco-systems to get healthy again...
...Is it possible? 
  Only if you think it is.
  So think it!



Monday, May 1, 2017

5-1-17 Printable Calendar for May 2017

Monday, May 1st
...sorting through some images today...
...while out with Capt. Jim...

 
 
 
...from the dock in Friday Harbor...

...while on research boat (used with permission)...

...while on the Western Prince...



...calendar for May?  feel free to print it out - full sheet jpg.
...I just looked up...

...been down with a nasty cold...glad it happened now since the Southern Residents haven't come back in just yet...hoping they give me another day or two - to heal up and for the rain to stop for at least a few days in a row!  Cheers!

Monday, April 24, 2017

4-24-17 Transients Have Been Everywhere

...over the last many days it has been whales, whales - transients - everywhere but...
...something was on my mind that I could not shake...so here's is my take - LOL...
...here are some images from recent days...
...I rode along on the Western Prince and not even out of the harbor was a gray whale...

...then word came that whales were seen in the Strait of Georgia...







...on another day the T49As and the T65As and T65Bs were together again (last time seen together was about a week before)...
...T65Bs (mother and offspring) used to travel more often with her mom - T65 and Chainsaw T63...Chainsaw hadn't been seen in these waters for the last few years, but he was seen north (SE Alaska - I think) last year but no mention of T65...hummm...so the other day when Chainsaw was seen coming in from the west there was an unidentified female who was later ID'd by one of the Victoria boats as T65!

As far as I know there has been no word on the whereabouts of the Residents...as in prior years, one day they will just show up...
...I am so anticipating hearing them over the hydrophones early one morning ...but also realizing that I am quite concerned for their well being.