Sunday, April 13, 2014

4-13-14 K Pod Showed Up - Creating Lots of Questions

Sunday, April 13th
...Residents?...Yes!...J pod?...No!...K pod-Yes!

...I bet some people are checking their sightings archives tonight!
Why?...well, it might be the first time that K pod has come in during April AND it might be the first time K pod has come in before J pod at this time of year...BUT I'm not sure...I too have to do some checking...

I do know it's the first sighting of K pod in many months - and thanks to the spotting by Ken Balcomb, head of the Center for Whale Research, and Dave Ellifrit, also of the Center, who got out there early in the day and confirmed that all of K pod was accounted for!

...this is the first sighting of any of the pods of the Southern Resident Community since March 3rd, when J pod was seen heading west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca...

...out on Maya's Westside Charters for the afternoon trip...David had met the whales at Race Rocks on the morning trip and we needed to fuel up...timing is always great...and when we headed down Haro Strait the whales had already started crossing over toward San Juan Island...
...the had split into three groups...we met the most northerly group...that's the Olympic Mountains in the distance...
...it was the K13 family group (7 whales)...Skagit K-13 spyhopped several different times as the whales crossed the strait...
...I could see Lime Kiln lighthouse in the distance...
...one more spyhop and down island they went at a steady pace...
...the K13s began porpoising and continued that for about 25 minutes...
...they met up with the rest of K pod members and all began traveling east...
...when I looked at my pictures a bird caught my eye (see ? above) ...what kind of bird is that?...I have no idea...
...Sequim K-12 and some of her family members...
...I learned later that the whales had gone east for a while and then turned and headed back...

lots of questions: - back to where?...back out? up San Juan Channel? up the west side? (didn't see them before dark)...or did they change direction again and head east?

Did they come in looking for J pod?
Did they come in because someone is going to give birth?
I don't think they came in looking for food, because I think J pod would have done that first.
So where is J pod?
...and the list of questions goes on and on...

Tomorrow may shed a bit more light on the subject...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

4-12-14 Whales Almost In Friday Harbor!

Saturday, April 12th
...over the Lime Kiln hydrophones in the early morning...
video
Later...
...just as we were about to leave the dock on Maya's Westside Charters another boat spotted whales just entering Spieden Channel...they were heading east in the channel and passed by Lonesome Cover Resort...
...we stopped to see some Steller sea lions hauled out at Green Pt...183R is a 'regular' and the arrow points to what appears to be a juvenile Steller sea lion.

...T77A and T49C were moving down San Juan Channel, zigging and zagging...then they were down for several minutes...then...
-a disturbance at the surface
-Steller sea lion back flippers at the surface
-the whales surfacing down island from the Steller
-the Steller took a few moments before getting out of there!

-the two whales continued down San Juan Channel...after about 45 minutes they were on to something...one whale would be down while the other remained at the surface for 3 minutes...then they would switch...it continued in three minute intervals for close to a half hour...they had something down and were not letting it surface to get a breath...
...then at 3:36 they were both up at the same time and one of them surfaced with a high spyhop!  bingo - lunch was ready!

...gulls began to show up to get their lunch...
...one of the boys tail slapped several times repeatedly...tenderizing his meal perhaps...
...after a while they seemed to spend a bit of time roughhousing...
...
...then they headed for Friday Harbor...
...they passed the entrance to the harbor and went in the south entrance to Jensen Boatyard and Marina!...this was getting pretty wild...not common for whales in come into this tight area...

...they didn't stay long and turned and came back out along the south side and continued to head down island...
...we saw these two whales three days ago as they traveled to the north...I wonder when we will see them next and which direction they will be going then!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

4-10-14 This Killer Whale Family Needs a Nickname

Thursday, April 10th
...out on Maya's Westside Charters for an afternoon trip...shortly after leaving the dock we got word of whales sighted in the Strait of Georgia...
...
 ...
...it wasn't until I was looking at my images from the day that I noticed something very unusual on T123...
...at first I thought my focus was off, until I zoomed in...
...'wrong'? well, only because her smooth skin just wasn't...
...then I looked back at the last time I saw her...
...I only got one other image that showed more of the markings...
...I sent the images to the Ken Balcomb and Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research, and to Jared Towers of the DFO Biological Station at Nanaimo..it will be interesting to hear back as to what these markings are from...
...there are so many marks...and they all appear to be horizontal lines...there is one section (bottom arrow) that even has a small divot out of it...and the other 2 arrows point to where it there are other small divots...
...well, she seemed just as normal as can be with her oldest, T123A and young one, I think about 2 years old,...
...T123A has had a skin issue for a while now...aside from the tagging remains, notice how patchy his dorsal fin is...it is like that on both sides...

...now both mom and oldest offspring have skin issues...
...it's just
 'begging for a nickname' 
for this family...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4-9-14 These Two Whale Look So Much Alike!

Wednesday, April 9th
...it was close...whew!...Gold Wing located whales just a short time before we were due back to the harbor...and lucky for all we had an afternoon trip on Maya's Westside Charters...another whale filled day!
It's so wonderful to see the joy on people's faces when they get their first glimpse of a killer whale in the wild...and then to hear all the questions it raises...
...it doesn't take lots of whales...two will do nicely...

...T77A was seen in the inland waters (I think the last time) in April, 2010...he - at the time people were saying 'she'...
...this unknown 'female' was traveling with T103...
...the whale hardly showed it's saddle patch marking...one person got an image with a bit of it and it was sent to researchers...word was 'unknown'...then after quite a while it was stated that it was CA58 from the California transient community...
...well, over time, 'she' morphed into a 'he' T77A...
and he got an additional notch, close to the location of the first notch...refer to the DFO official book on the transients...so the second notch was acquired prior to spring of 2012...
...and look at how T77A has grown...no confusion now on whether a he or a she!
...T77A is on the left and T49C is on the right...these two males look so much alike, everyone was calling them 'the twins'!
...they were moving at a leisurely pace, zigging and zagging, taking long dives sometimes 6 or 7 minutes...then we couldn't find them...
...after about 13 minutes I spotted one of them over near this area on the western end of North Pender Island...we had probably missed a surfacing, but they could have been down there flushing out a seal...their behavior changed and it seemed as if they had gotten something or were following it along...
...there was a period of 19 minutes when they only surfaced once...
...and soon they had body parts in their mouths...lunch!
...that's T49C with scratches on his head...
...he also had new scratches on his side, but he had them before the seal take that we saw...
...no telling where 'the twins' will show up next...together? or possibly with others...and since they showed up together and we've seen their similarities, that helps in reducing confusion on the next encounter if only on of them happens to be present!

Once again April is 
proving to be 
Transient Month!
 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

4-8-14 A Day Full of Whales!

Tuesday, April 8th
...it was a busy day with whales...first there was a report of 20+ whales inbound in the Strait of Juan de Fuca...being Ts, they would most likely disperse once they got closer...they did...
...out on Maya's Westside Charters for a morning trip we headed toward Victoria...on the way we learned of some whales already in Haro Strait going north...cool!...

...it was raining...visibility was less than a mile...not good for spotting whales...by the time we got closer to Victoria the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through...
...and we found one of the groups of Transients, T75B, T75C, T36A, T36A-1 and T36A-2...

...these five whales were in travel mode, heading toward Trial Island and possibly toward Haro Strait...and it was time for us to head back to the harbor...
...in the meantime those early morning whales in Haro Strait were found...so out of the harbor for the afternoon trip we met up with the T49As and the T65As as they were entering Swanson Channel from Morseby Passage...T49A1 and T65A2 traveling together...the moms were traveling with the rest of their kids and they were spread out at least a 1/2 mile...of course, we wanted to see the babies...
...this baby has scratches that look like raised long welts- mostly on the right side...and then there was this one set of scratches on T65A-5 - 'J1'...for those of you who knew Ruffles J-1...it was a bit 'eerie' when I saw this!
...the whales slowly moved up Swanson Channel...we left them after they passed by the entrance to Active Pass and were heading up Trincomali Channel...
T65A-5's playful behavior about sums it up for just about everyone who was out on the water today and saw these most magnificent animals...