Saturday, October 18, 2014

10-18-14 The Calm After the Storm

Saturday, October 18th
...it began - 04:47 a.m....calls on the Port Townsend hydrophones...I was so surprised they woke me up because their calls were very faint...but there were a lot of them...J pod calls mainly, a few K pod calls and a few L pod calls...I wondered who was present and where they would be when it got light out...
...here's a short clip...
video

...daylight came, hours passed, no whales heard or seen...but then just before leaving the dock on Maya's Westside Charters we get word - "contact"!...oh, goodie...
...J, K, and L pod whales and a lot of them!
...they were in a few groups, spread out...
...after yesterday and the very strong winds and high seas, it was a most magnificent calm, sunny day...
...it's like seeing friends I haven't seen in a while...for some it had only been a few days...others it had been several weeks...
...though J-34 and J-46 were at the surface at the same time...there were 20 plus others under the surface!

...Granny J-2 was one of them...all of J pod and the K12s and the K14s too...
...here DoubleStuf J-34, Mike J-26, and Blackberry J-27, plus a few others were surfacing together...
...lots and lots...
 ...just a fun pic with Oreo J-22 and friend and the bird...
...besides the rest of K pod, lots of L pod whales were present but not the L12s or the L54s and not the new baby L-120...
...now a look back to six years ago...I re-posted the last half of October 2008...read what occurred back then...

Friday, October 17, 2014

10/14-17/14 They Sure Do Get Around!

Tuesday, October 14th
...what would today bring in the way of whales?...
...well, it began at about 4:15 this morning, when extremely faint calls came over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...they were so faint I couldn't determine if Transients or Residents...there were only about a dozen calls heard over about 17 minutes...
...someone is out there...somewhere...
...by the afternoon out on Maya's Westside Charters we were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca watching humpbacks...at this time of year they seem to be moving down from the north and some making a stop in these inland waters...

...at one point we saw humpbacks spotted in four different locations on the horizon...I heard that over 10 individuals had been seen...we were heading toward some other humpbacks when, on our way the Capt. made a turn to the south..ah-ha!...something was up...
...killer whales had been spotted by Ocean Magic!
...and once on scene, I knew who I had heard in the night...the same whales who had been in Massacre Bay and by Skull Island yesterday (see prior post)...
...at first there was no big male...then one of the passengers spotted him about a mile to the south...that was T137A...in between the group we were watching and him was one other single...mom - T137...

...they were spread a good distance, but we could see they were coming back together...heading west...
...don't know why, but T137D was way behind the rest of the group...he had to do some porpoising to catch up to the others...
...just as we were leaving the scene we heard that other Transients were a couple miles away and were coming in...the T35As and T38A (see post from two days ago)...
...we made a quick pass at Race Rocks...always an amazing place...
...On to Wednesday, 10-15 - I learn from Ivan of the Western Prince that the T35As, T38A, and the T36As were all together, but the T137s were not seen...
...Then on Friday, 10-17 - I learn from Ivan that those same whales showed up outside of Friday Harbor...
They Sure Do Get Around! 

And the Residents?...well they just happened to make their first fall appearance into Puget Sound on Thursday!...

Monday, October 13, 2014

10-13-14 There Was Only One Way Out

Monday, October 13th
...a beautiful, calm morning...a few clouds in the distance...a day to be on the water...
...I planned to go on the Western Prince...the boat I saw my first ever whales from...so I couldn't end the year without at least one trip on the Prince...
...as I was pulling in to park my car I get a call telling me to get out on the Prince, because whales are not far from Friday Harbor - wow! I was already there!
...killer whales had been spotted from the ferry...actually a couple of times, so we knew they hadn't gone too far, but the options were many, with so many islands they could be behind while we or others were on the other side...but that wasn't going to be the case today...

...we went up past the Orca Island ferry landing, heading west...there were a couple options after that...we turned and headed up into West Sound, a place that 'no one ever sees whales'...except last year members of J Pod were in West Sound, but that was like the first time in 'forever'...

...we slowly went up scanning and scanning...then Ivan spots them, all the way back up on the west side of the sound...they were in Massacre Bay...and by Skull Island...what names!...they were spread out...a couple on the west side and several on the right side...they had been working the top end of the sound...
...they began to move over to the east side and down...






...they came out of West Sound...
...
 
...often in rough seas, when they surface they will bring their heads up...I would imagine it would be to get a good breath...
...seeing whales in Massacre Bay and by Skull Island - Amazing!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

10-12-14 Who Is That With the White Patch

Sunday, October 12th
...yesterday (10/11) J pod whales were seen heading west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the morning...so sometime last night they had turned around and headed back down...they had been very vocal over the Lime Kiln hydrophones when they went up island...

...today, Sunday, out on Maya's Westside Charters there were two trips...on our first trip we headed over toward Victoria where there were some humpbacks and with the hope that the Residents would be coming back in or some Transients would show up...

...there was a huge bird gathering...

...and where there are birds there is often something else near by...


...but no one saw any killer whales...we got word there was were humpbacks closer to home...and then it began to rain a bit...
...wondering how the afternoon might go...

...and no sooner do we get off the dock than we 'get the word' - ORCA!...someone had just made contact...need I say more?...:)
...we heard someone say, "one of them has a white patch." (see that white on the dorsal fin - above)...bingo - if it was on the left side it would be T38A ...if it was on the right side it would be T38C...
...with the rain, the whales being close to the shore, etc. - what a challenge...
...but it wasn't long before they made a kill...it was the last day for that harbor seal, but those whales had a meal...nature, it has to take care of everyone...

...we knew they were after something but couldn't tell much until that juvenile surfaced with the seal in its mouth...then two others came right at us and one spyhopped, as you can see...they will often spyhop when they have made a kill...
...but they didn't seem to eat it right away they moved on...
...it was a short while before we saw gulls coming down to the surface for some scraps...killer whales are messy eaters - with conical shaped teeth that interlock - lots of ripping but no chewing...
...back to that white spot...
...T38A...first time I believe the T38s and T35s were photographed in these inland waters was one year ago...maybe they will make this an annual visit...
...it was time for us to go dry off...we went one way and the whales went...
...so far this fall we haven't seen all of those two family groups...maybe they too will show up soon...who we saw today were: T38A, T35A, T35A1, and T35A2
~~
...no sightings of any of the Southern Residents today...they are where the food is...maybe there will be enough for the whales to want to follow it in...and hopefully eat it before the fish make it to the hooks or nets out there...I'd prefer the fish make it into the mouths of the orcas...

Friday, October 10, 2014

10-10-14 Whales From Sun Up to Sun Down

Friday, October 10th
...listening to the hydrophones for any hint of whales in the area has not been very fruitful over the last few days...
...covered in fog, so visual was out of the question much of the time...

...I happened upon an online video of whales vocalizations recorded and in the title was the word 'rare'...I immediately wondered where that would be...
Ketchikan, Alaska...
here's the link to the audio... https://screen.yahoo.com/videos-for-you/hydrophone-captures-whales-talking-rare-140843864.html
...it's a great example of hearing the 'language' of other whales...I don't know who they are...there is one call that is repeated over and over...I imagine whoever studies whales in those waters might know...

...evidently 'J Pod heard I was going to write about someone else talking, so they decided to give me something to compare it to'...in other words they showed up on the Lime Kiln hydrophones at 5:39 a.m. thank you very much!
...I only heard faint calls, lasting about 25 minutes...this time I was blinded by the darkness of the hour...and then fog...
...it wasn't until about 10:30 a.m. or so that I heard faint calls...'they're coming up!'...off to the park - completely socked in- arrgh!...but soon it began to lift...enough to see a little bit...

I heard K Pod calls...
...for your listening pleasure Lobo K-26 and his brother Kelp K-42 were passing by...
video

...then a bit later Lea K-14, Kelp K-42, and Yoda K-36 (not shown here) came back down...Lobo had gone way off shore by this time...


...off to go out on Maya's Westside Charters, I wanted to see all who were present...or should I say 'who got a birthday present' - Toby!
...the seas were rolly and choppy making it easier to spot those with the tall dorsal fins...
 
 ...Mike was offshore and Onyx was more inshore...
 ...the boat rolled one way when i wish it had rolled the other!

...one looked to be spyhopping, but then there was this strange something going on...
...Lobo, who had been with Granny J-2 when we had first arrived on scene, was now with Mike J-26...this was very interesting to watch...


...it was definitely fun attempting to take pictures through windows today!

...then I get home only to find out that the whales are coming up island...I had seen a couple Kingfishers at the harbor...glad I stopped to grab a few shots...

...the fog was gone, the rain was coming, and it was getting darker...
...under some trees to try to keep the camera dry...ha!
...the whales were not in close, but when I looked at my images...there was Moby J-44 having some fun with some kelp on his rostrum...
...difficult to see...he is on his back and has a piece of kelp draped over his mouth...
...the whales sounded more social and less food searching...and I know that at least Moby was having fun!
video


...by the end of the day, between the shore and the boat encounters, I did get to see some members of Group A and Group B [J11s, J22s (or J10s), J17s], and the four K14s...we had close to 30 whales here...a lot more than I had thought earlier in the day!