Monday, August 6, 2018

8-6-18 No Salmon Means No SRKWs

Monday, August 6th

Even before moving here in 2004, I had heard that the SRKWs were referred to 'as like the canary in the coal mine'. 
-And now they are the 'canary'.

The SRKWs had been demonstrating, by their travel patterns and locations, that the wild salmon were declining, but it seems that little attention was paid to the plight of the whales.
-After all, they were still showing up in these waters.

In 2010, the sockeye preseason predictions were for a 'moderate return' of 3,000,000 sockeye.  Three months later it had proved to be the largest sockeye return in 97 years - the number?  34,000,000.  (The whales were here over 120 consecutive days.) It was anticipated that with a 4-year cycle, the 2014 could be even larger.
-But it wasn't. It was below the lowest predicted return numbers.

Then Dec 2014-Dec 2015 there were several babies born into the SRKW Community...and 'all of a sudden' everything was 'just fine'.
-But everything wasn't 'just fine'.

Now the SRKWs are barely in their core-summer-habitat.
-There isn't enough food.

Wild salmon are the Backbone of the Salish Sea.
-Waiting to make decisions is NOT a viable working model.
Waiting, begets more loss, more decline...and now on the road to extinction for the SRKWs?

The Salish Sea is broken.
It's broken in Canadian waters.
It's broken in U.S. waters.

It needs to be fixed before it's too late. 
Too late for the SRKWs.
Too late for the wild salmon.
Too late for all other marine life.
Too late for humans.

What about YOU?
What are you willing to do everyday to make changes that will help planet earth heal?
The government isn't doing it, so it's up to each of us.

You've seen the lists, links, about things you can do. Start doing them and do more.

Vote - It matters.
Vote for those who see the value in thinking into the future while actively fixing the present.

Here is an image taken of Slick J-16 with Scarlet J-50 by her side, as they passed Lime Kiln lighthouse, on July 23rd.  I thank them for giving us this look, a look that will not reveal just how bad Scarlet is.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

7-31-18 J and L Pods on the Last Day of July

Tuesday, July 31st
All of J Pod took all day, yesterday, to get from the Strait of Georgia to Haro Strait...being heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones at about 1:00 a.m. This morning the seas were choppy, the wind was strong...and where the whales were remained unknown until late in the morning.

They made their way up island, the leading group, by about 5pm...the seas were still choppy and the wind wasn't as strong, but the sun glare was providing for many back lit images. They were spread out, moving quickly with the current, the and lighthouse was in my I ran from one side to the other to get pictures...I would look later to verify just who was in my images, but for those moments it was to get them on the camera. Tahlequah J-35 had not been seen yet, so that was the 'mission' to get her in an image...mission accomplished.
The L12s were evidently here...but one of the first whales to go by was Kasatka L-82 and that was a surprise!
 ...similar but different...

Seeing Kasatka meant that the L55s were here, at least, and they travel with the Ballena L-90, the last surviving member of the L26s. Also should be Surprise! L-86 and her offspring, the L47s - Marina L-47 and her family members, the L72s - Racer L-72 and her offspring Fluke L-105.  Many of those showed up on the backlit images.  July 31st is the ONLY day L Pod whales have been in Haro Strait in the month of July.  Glad they are here.
The whales were mixed, Js and Ls, some in very close to the shore. Dr. Otis' two interns, Amanda and Sarah, had the opportunity, since it was past the documenting hours (daily 9-5), to get all the way down on the rocks with the hope that some of the whales would come in close...the smiles on their faces gave the answer to that!

There were other whales still down island, and since the L12s had not passed by that must be them...and who was with them, but Onyx L-87!  Now that was interesting.  Onyx (see his story- link on the right column) has traveled with K Pod and then J Pod exclusively since 2006.  When J Pod and the L12s are together, Onyx will spend time with his family unit, the L12s but when the L12s turn and go back down island (that is what they usually do), he will continue up island to get back with J Pod. But this time??? The others were a couple hours ahead of this group... was interesting to see Onyx L-87 with the L12s, with them being so far behind the others.  Interesting to note that over the last year, Onyx has spent a great deal of time with Tahlequah's family.
At 9:15pm calls were heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...okay, so the L12s are coming back down. But since I wasn't there I could not confirm...that is until I get a message from a friend who was at the lighthouse and who knows what Mega L-41 looks like..."Mega just went by!" was the exclamation!!

So as the day came to a close, J Pod was north, Tahlequah was still carrying her calf, at least some of the L12s had changed direction and went down island.

In addition to the many questions regarding Tahlequah, a new question has been added regarding Onyx.  Who will he be with next? 

The concern for Scarlet J-50 continues.  With the backlit issues today, it was tough just getting images and tougher figuring out who is who...but here's Scarlet with her big brother Mike J-26.
...I want to add here that it is with gratitude to the US enforcement boats, who I believe have gotten more funding from WA state for more hours on the water this season...this was before the troubles with Scarlet and with Tahlequah arose...the coordinating efforts of Soundwatch (on the water boater education of The Whale Museum), using the Whale Warning Flag at the lighthouse when whales are in the area, the enforcement boats, The Center for Whale Research, DFO (Canada Dept of Fisheries and Oceans), the PWWA captains all cooperating in the areas around the J16s and J17s and all the SRKWs, as they go through this difficult time... in the efforts to get the Snake River dams about a shout-out to WA state for what is going on already...more enforcement boats, culverts being replaced to unblock fish passage...hopefully no more video of fish crossing a road with the culverts backed up...bulkheads along shorelines being removed to reestablish a natural shoreline, things of that nature are there is good going on - Whitney and Whale Scouts, Laurie has her 'own' stream...all restoration work for helping to improve the environment for salmon to recover...
I'm sure there's more going on...but those are a few...


Sunday, July 29, 2018

7-29-18 Is It Back-to-Normal for the Whales?


Today, Tahlequah J-35 continued to carry her calf.  
This was day six.

Today the rest of J Pod returned.
Tahlequah's family came down Boundary Pass and into Haro Strait.
They passed Lime Kiln lighthouse, going down island.
The rest of J Pod came up island at the same time.
They met up.

The feelings of relief came over many of us.
Their family was back together, at least for today.

To witness them joining back up was heartfelt.
They met their friends.
They traveled north.

Is it over? Will things get back to normal?
What is 'over'?
What is 'back to normal'?

Normal is having enough food to eat.
Normal is having healthy babies, who will live a long life.
Normal is having space to live their lives.
Normal is freedom from stress.

Begin to look at these whales of J, K, and L Pods differently.
They have given the humans an opportunity to understand.
They are like us.
We are like them.

Respecting our neighbors, means respecting the whales and their aquatic world.
Celebrating these orcas is a privliege and not a right.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

7-25-18 SRKW J35 and the Loss of Her Baby

It was learned on 7/24 that Tahlequah had a newborn and the baby died. 
24 hours later, to see her still pushing the baby...

As we humans watch, wait - for action to be taken to save these whales from death, we now have Tahlequah J-35 whose newborn died. She is a mother and loves that baby. Her family knew a baby was about to be born. The rest of the SRKW community likely did too. Tahlequah didn't just accept it and move on. NO...she kept that baby with her the next day, kept pushing the baby to surface. When she passed by the lighthouse, Suttles J-40 and Star J-46 were assisting her, helping to keep the baby at the surface. Not only is she morning the loss of her baby, SHE WON'T LET GO. Neither should we. I woke this morning thinking of not only the physical aspect of her having a calf and losing it, but the stress she is experiencing. What about eating? She can't take time out to eat when her job as a mother is to protect her baby, and that means keeping that baby at the surface. Those who are assisting her are stressed as well, but doing the job that they know they must do to help her. Every member of this SRKW community is at risk and every member of the SRKW community is needed to keep this endangered population alive. My heart breaks....

The Snake River may be far away but holds a major key to restoring wild salmon runs.  The SRKWs don't have time for more studies.  They can't eat studies!  Take action, call your elected officials to get the dams breached.  

Watch the Dammed To Extinction trailer  

Monday, July 23, 2018

7-23-18 SRKW J16 Family Group

Monday, July 23rd

...the whales of J Pod have split into different groupings than they had before...we will have to wait until they return to see if they all come back in together...
...for the last few days only the J16 family group has been in these waters...and they have been going up into the Strait of Georgia and then back down Boundary Pass...

...on the night of July 21st and the early hours of July 22nd...J Pod calls could be heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...only this time it was a bit different...
...they were not seen along the west side of the island until this morning, July 23, when they all-of-a-sudden showed up coming down island...and who was it?...the J16s...

so...I guess they were the ones making all those calls the other night!

ADDED 7:25 a.m.  MAYBE NOT!  Lots of J and K pod calls in the early, early hours of the morning on 7/24!

And the Albion numbers are moving up...Chinook and Sockeye!!