Friday, August 16, 2019

8-16-19 The Sea Continued to Wake Up

Friday, August 16th
...it was a busy day watching...it was a busy day for the waking waters off Lime Kiln...this image may not be very impressive, but when there hasn't this activity in this area all season long..well, it's a big deal...
...J Pod was still in the inland waters...they spent a good portion of the day down island...I think that was the foggy day...and by the afternoon the fog had left and the whales came up passing the lighthouse...
...the whale warning flag was out and ready...
...as they were approaching...

...under the surface there were more...

...they traveled north for a while...looking as if they were going to continue...
...but just after thinking that, they turned and came back down island...

...in the meantime...


...they were spread out and moving at a leisurely pace...
...some were far offshore, others midway, and some a bit closer...

 ...no matter their distance, it is moments like these to cherish - stillness, calm, peaceful, being one with the orca...just sitting and watching in the quiet time of the evening.
 


 
 

 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

8-15-19 What Had Been Missing - SRKWs and Salmon

Thursday, August 15th

...I have blogged several times in the last few years that the waters along west side of San Juan Island, north and south of the Lime Kiln lighthouse a couple miles in each direction, were just about void of life in the waters for a good part of the summer...that is except for small forage (species I don't know), and sometimes harbor porpoise...
...there were very few and sometimes one gull that could be seen for miles...
...the SRKWs had not been here since early July and that was for two days only...
...the whales were on their way east in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Aug 14...
...they arrived to Haro Strait on Aug 15, being heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones at about 3:00a.m....
...the seas came alive...stunning to see pink salmon leaping their way up to the north...long lines of them leaping throughout the afternoon, sometimes lasting for 20 minutes...then soon more would come through...
...the whales spent a good deal of the day foraging in an area where they usually do, they came up island in the afternoon...

...they didn't get too far out of view when they turned and came back south...



...it was about 3:30 now...
...later, at about 6:30 a couple whales came up and past the lighthouse...they were not traveling close together, about a half mile apart some of the time...they soon came back down island...

...those two were heading back toward the rest of J Pod...
...if it hadn't been for the whales being where they were, at this time of day, I would not have gotten to see this sunset...
...would they be here on the 16th...?

...it is said that the whales don't eat pinks because of their small size - 4 to 6 lbs - they need the biggest bang for their 'energy buck'...so there are likely sockeye (which they eat some, but they are about 8-10lbs) but more likely Chinook salmon (bigger) passing through too...
...the Albion test fisheries in B.C. had a bump up in their counts of Chinook salmon...  Yay!!





Friday, August 9, 2019

8-9-19 THREE SRKWs Dead-A Call To Action

Friday, August 9

On August 6, the Center for Whale Research announced that Princess Angeline J-17 and Scoter K-25 had died.  Both had been in declining health for several months.  There was a time when it seemed that there was a chance for them to recover, but it wasn't to be.  When it was also announced that Nyssa L-84 was was missing and presumed dead, that just hit me, and likely everyone else, very hard. 

The next morning..."buck it up, get with the program...there are 73 Southern Resident orcas who are doing their best to survive in these terrible times."

-Ignoring what is facing them, and ultimately us, is not an option.
-Going about life as you have been, is no longer an option.
-What are you willing to do?
   -Not just for the whales,
   -For your children, your friends' children, your grandchildren,
   -For generations to come.



Would you miss the whales if they were no longer?
  ...miss seeing them, hearing them over the hydrophones, hearing about them?

You know caring about the Southern Resident Endangered orcas means you are willing to make changes in your life to help them.
Your helping the whales, is actually:
  -helping the eco-system
    which
   -helps the salmon
    which
   -helps the orcas
   -and helps you, your family and future generations.

Here's an IdeaBoardz-PODs Challenge
Thanks to The Whale Museum for creating this. You can go to TWM's Facebook page and read the text.  It's inspiring and a call to action for each of us to make changes.
It's just getting started...
J = Join in.
K = Knowledge is power.
L = Learn from others.

...you know, each-one-teach-one.




 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

7-27-19 SRKWs and Transients Comparison Practice

Saturday, July 27
...this is a re-post...updated a bit...

...many people have asked, "how do you tell the difference between an SRKW (Southern Resident Killer Whale) and a Transient?"

...one of the people who asked this question and who caused me to get a bit creative is a gentleman who lives on a nearby island and has had, in the last few years, many killer whales pass by where he lives...
..he had come into the lighthouse and was asking questions and taking notes on what to look for and he was using post-its...so I called him Mr. Post-Its - (I'm terrible at remembering names, that is unless it's an orca's name.)

...well, Mr. Post-Its told me that when he was younger he wanted to be a marine biologist but his life took a different turn and added that it has been all good...so, I suggested that now was his time to use some of his training from years ago and be that marine biologist, right from his front window...
...so for Mr. Post-Its and anyone wanting to see some of the differences, here's a general comparison sheet to help you get started...or as a refresher...
...and now here are some practice whales for you...
...these are only a sampling...but might give you an idea of some of the general differences you might see...











...the answers...you'll figure them out...sometimes you have to look for those 'tiny things' that will reveal - Transient or Resident?



Some have asked for the answers:
#  1 R
#  2 T
#  3 R
#  4 T
#  5 T
#  6 R
#  7 T
#  8 R
#  9 R
#10 R
#11 T
...fun stuff! 

Added:  Below are Southern Residents. Some individuals have a kink or twist to their dorsal fin that can sometimes help in identification or add confusion as to who one is looking at. 
How their fin tip looks from one side is the opposite of how the fin tip looks from the other side. One of the 7 images in the set is going the opposite direction as the others.
A few examples:
Some can look very different depending on the angle.
 
Each orca is an individual, not only in their dorsal fin shape, saddle patch markings, eye patch markings, nicks/notches or scratches, they are each individual in their personalities.

Monday, July 22, 2019

7-22-19 SRKWs - Catching Up from 7-6 to 7-22

July 6 - July 21
...during the night of July 5, J Pod, Onyx L-87, and K Pod went north...someone took some early morning footage of the whales in Active Pass...it was beautiful and peaceful...
...it was about five hours later when the whales were approaching East Pt...a location in the Strait of Georgia that leads into Boundary Pass that the whales often take when they come back down to the west side of San Juan Island...
...not continuing north to the Fraser River area was an indicator of how much salmon was NOT in the Strait of Georgia in the areas they often forage.  However, they might have spent a short time foraging or searching for salmon in the Strait of Georgia...
...as the whales came down and approached Lime Kiln lighthouse in the afternoon, they seemed to be in a 'hurry'...maybe to get back to the same area off San Juan Island where they had spent the the prior day.  They did.  They were spread out and foraging...watching them from a great distance until almost dark, I could still see a good amount of breaching, tail slaps, spyhops and more...so their energy appeared to be remaining high...
...having watched them for the last 15+ years from the abundant salmon years to the sparse years, there are clear differences in their behaviors when there is and abundance of salmon and when there is not...



...the whales did not come all the way back up island, but instead it was believed they were heading back out to sea, which was later confirmed...
...over the next two weeks...it turned into a time of seeing a lot of 'little things'...

...once in a while a 'big thing' might show up...


...but when those big things are not there, you start to see those 'little things'...




...sometimes an opportunity comes to you...
...sometimes you have to wait for it...
...while on my way back to town I learned of whales coming north in San Juan Channel...


...I had heard about and seen many images of this 'little white whale'... these are a couple of the first images I've gotten...it was amazing to see T046B1B under the surface...and so close to shore in San Juan Channel...

...the Southern Residents have not yet returned to the inland waters...

...when people ask why aren't the whales here...I sometimes reply with:
  I think the whales are telling us:
"We know you humans have a lot of things you are working on to fix, so we're just going to leave you alone so you can focus on fixing things and get it all worked out.  When you get your act together, we'll be back."

The question remains:

Will the humans work together to restore the ecosystem, which includes restoring wild chinook salmon stocks, cleaning up these toxic waters and prevent new/foreign toxic substances into the waters of the Salish Sea?  That's just for starters.