Do Not Copy

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12-15-09 Those Born in 2009

It was an abundant year for new offspring in 2009.

...I first saw J-45 on February 24, 2009 but I thought I was looking at new calf J-44...I couldn't understand why this new baby was surfacing with the J14s...
...four days later, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Capt Jim's boat...we saw two babies...that cleared up my confusion...
...I think it was January that researchers had seen L-112...this image was taken from Lime Kiln in August, 2009...
...in July J-44 was clearly sloughing skin (usual for them)...
...an August pic of J-45 showed that he was doing the same...
...in October L-113 was born in Puget Sound...this image is from a few months later, which is the first time I saw L-113..
...in November, new baby J-46 was first seen as she passed by Lime Kiln Lighthouse...
...three days later J pod was seen again...baby J-46's fetal folds showing clearly...
...I hope we get to watch them grow...for a long, long time...




Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11-11-09 New Baby J-46!

Wednesday, November 11th
...not only did we hear whales..we saw them...not only did we see them...we saw a NEW BABY!
Polaris J-28 has a new one of her own
here's what went on...
I was listening to the Lime Kiln Hps today when I got a call from a friend that calls were on the Orca Sound Hps...I quickly flipped over...yes!...I bolted out the door and headed for County Park guessing the whales were coming south...after scanning a while and coming up empty I went home to listen to the HPs...
...when I walked in the door K Pod calls were coming over the Hps, and loud distinct J Pod calls too..Oh my! but where are they?...grab food...other binos...warmer clothes...out the door and back to County Park...
...this time it was only a few minutes before I saw a dorsal fin to the north, coming south along Henry Island...I waited...and watched...

..I kept thinking about the report the prior week of whales up north who were swimming in circles...all I could think of was a new baby...but I didn't really know...
...as the whales got a bit closer I headed to Lime Kiln...they were far offshore and there were a few who looked like they might be a bit closer...
...as the whales approached Lime Kiln, I had my binos up and saw a
calf straight up out of the water and sort of like falling forward...I noticed how orange the calf looked, but I didn't want to start any rumors - I SHOULD HAVE!!!...they weren't in close but I was able to get some pictures...a group of about 4 with one really SMALL one...too small to be J-44 or J-45...but...ooohh...and then I saw this tiny calf surface with a female in front...it was Polaris J-28 and it looked like she had a baby...

...they were in close enough to get a couple images of the baby...

...confirmed later that day by the Center for Whale Research and designated as J-46.  I met some folks at Lime Kiln...I had brought out the speakers so they could hear any vocalizations or echolocation clicks..the whales were not too vocal..no worries...I made up for that with all the excitement of a new calf...the woman said it was her daughter's birthday and she wanted to see whales for her birthday - Wish Granted!!...and then some...
...a couple days later, out with Capt. Jim of Maya's Westside Charters we met up with the J17 family group and got a nice look at the fetal folds on the newest member of J pod.
 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

10-17-09 J-45 Get's His Name!


Saturday, October 17, 2009
 


...coming from the heart...that's what it's all about for me when it comes to the whales...so when I was asked if I would speak at the Samish Nation Potlatch Naming Ceremony and Celebration for the naming of J-45 - out came the word Yes!...I wouldn't miss that opportunity! (the link above is for the news release on The Whale Museum web site)
...I have the distinction of being the first to photograph J-45 last February when I was out on Capt. Jim's boat and we were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca**... I was so touched when Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research told me I was the first to photograph this new calf...well, don't you know little J-45 was extra special... and each time through the summer that J Pod was in my sight I would scan and scan until I made sure he was there...here he is with his brother Riptide J-30...

  ...then at the ceremony I was asked if I would be a witness to the ceremony...what an honor!...okay, so I started to cry...oh, my...as explained by the speaker of the ceremony, it was the requirement of the 4 witnesses to pay attention and remember what occurred..then at the end of the ceremony each of us was to stand and to speak about what we learned about the ceremony and how we would witness this...about of the naming of J-45 to others for the rest of my life...now when it comes to talking about the whales - I CAN DO THAT!!
..so here I will share a bit with you...
...each witness had a blanket placed over their shoulder, across to the other side and fastened...the witnesses sat side by side, along one side of the gathering circle of the Samish...
...four blankets were placed on the floor, laid flat, one on top of the other...
...a selected young man, Jacob Moore, had a blanket placed over each shoulder...he was given the framed image of J-45 and was asked to stand in the center of the blankets... (I was under the understanding - which was incorrect- that Jacob's last name was Suttles and that he was related to Dr. Wayne Suttles, who J-40 had been named in honor of in 2005.) I apologize for any misunderstanding this may have caused.
...the blankets represent purity, purity of the heart, the heart where the name for J-45 came from...there was much thought put in to the decision of his name and the name came from the hearts of the Samish people...
...Jacob carried the image as he led the singers and drummers...
...this was the introduction of the young whale and his name?: Se-Yi-chn
...Se-Yi-chn means 'younger one' ...and it was explained that in the Samish language there is no word for brother or sister but the reference was always to 'older one' or 'younger one'...that the focus was always on respect for the elders...an elder would be anyone older than you... Se-Yi-chn with his immediate family......when it was my turn to witness to the gathering I said what an honor it was to be a witness to the naming of this whale, that it was extra special for me and and honor for The Whale Museum to be part of the naming...I explained about the meaning of the blankets...I 'blubblered a bit'...then I remembered about sharing with others and I think I blurted out...'oh, yes, about witnessing to others, you can be sure I will...I will tell everyone, it will be in our newsletters and it will most definitely be shared..." then I realized I needed something, "but I will need to know how to spell his name." :)...oh and did I cry while I was talking? yes...can't help it...
...and then..after each witness spoke, the Samish people came and gave gifts of thanks for our witnessing and sharing...I was thanked for my tears...and that made me cry even more...

what a day!



Here is a link to photos that were taken that day.

Here is a link to a post on October 23, 2009 by Candace Calloway of the Seattle PI about the Naming


**-I later realized that I had also photographed J-45 when J pod came past the light house a few days earlier...and I thought I was photographing the other new baby, J-44! Only one other person was present on that occasion and he didn't have a camera  :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

6-6-09 Whale of A Mystery -Spock and Comet

The year was 2009...
Saturday, June 6th - Chapter 1
I love a good mystery but not when it comes to these endangered killer whales...
I didn't see a single killer whale today, but a lot of people saw two...that's right just two...one person thought they saw three fins up at the same time...another person said they saw six but not six fins all at once...but throughout the day only 2 whales were ever seen...and there were a lot of people out there looking for miles and miles - from shore and from boats...
...it was only Spock K-20 and her 4 year old, Comet K-38...


...NO OTHER WHALES were seen in the Salish Sea - anywhere...strange very, very strange...

...this year has already been as a strange year as far as sightings go, and today really added to it...



~~~~
Sunday, June 7th - Chapter 2
...the last I had heard, Spock and Comet had gone up through Boundary Pass yesterday...and continued north as if they were going to the Fraser River...
But on Sunday afternoon they showed up in an unlikely location...
...I got a call from a friend saying she had seen Spock and Comet off American Camp at about 3 pm and the two whales were heading up island...but she doesn't carry a cell phone and couldn't call until they got home, which was about an hour and a half later...in that length of time Spock and Comet could be long gone from shore viewing...
...as we were talking I saw the Peregrine, Capt. Jim's boat ...soon he began to motor slowly down island...I called him and let him know the situation...
...I had to give it a try...would I miss them as I drove south and they were coming north?

...I headed down island and spotted them about a mile or so off shore about 2 miles south of the park, heading down island! I got a hold of Capt. Jim...he got to the whales...took photos for proof of presence of Spock and Comet! - awesome!  ...it is likely they may have been dismissed as a couple transients -  but Capt. Jim's pictures showed proof - yes!

Spock and Comet were going against the flooding currents and it would change to an ebb in about 2 hours...they seemed to be feeding in a tide rip or maybe just going slowly against the current...

questions on my mind...
Why just the 2 of them?
Where are the other 4 K Pod whales of the K13 subgroup that Spock and Comet belong to?...the 6 K13s had traveled with J Pod for two weeks in May.
The statement that 'they never leave their families their entire lives' - is that no longer going to be true?
Is there something wrong with one or both of them?

...just posing some questions, I have no answers...


~~~~
Monday, June 8th - Chapter 3

...this morning I learned that there were killer whales at Secretary Island (in the Strait of Juan de Fuca) heading west...that was at 6:30...by 10 a.m. they had made it to the Sooke area...looking as if they were going out....but they stopped and milled about...and began to come back in... oh and yes it was Spock and Comet...

...by 12:10 I heard they were about 4+ miles south of Constance Bank, still heading east...
...a while later they were about 3.5 miles north of Dungeonness Spit still going east...
...then around 3p.m. Protection Island still going east...

...I began to wonder if they would continue east and continue on by Admiralty Inlet and go up the west side of Whidbey Island...anything but the Sound...

...according to one report they were seen at Ebey's Landing and Partridge Pt. areas late in the day.- that would be the most western point on the west side of Whidbey Island...
(...I got my information from others, so this is what I think I know...)

~~~~
Tuesday, June 9th - Chapter 4


Day four...where will Spock and Comet be this morning?....down in Puget Sound?...out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, like yesterday morning?...or back up closer to San Juan Island?...

..I left early to see if I could find them...oh, but there is so much water out there, I'd never find them...but then I couldn't just sit at home and hope someone else would....
..I scanned and drove farther south, scanned and drove again...paused for a bald eagle at False Bay...

...drove and scanned again...I got a call that there were whales coming up island so I back tracked and scanned and waited...and waited...I was just about to give up with "kwuuffff" or however you spell the sound of a whale exhaling...

...it was Spock and Comet slowly moving up island - again against the ebbing currents - at a steady pace...

...as I watched them approach I saw Comet change direction and move in toward the shore...then Spock changed direction too and then I saw Spock logging for just a few seconds...those changes lasted less than a minute and then they began to move north at a steady pace....that was at about 10 a.m.

...a short clip of Spock and Comet as they passed by along the park...


...so nice to see them..yet everyone is concerned for them...a short while later when they passed Andrews Bay, Comet made a direction change...after a fish maybe...it was only once and then back on track with mom up ahead.

...I think a lot of people are wondering if they are eating or not...so now every move they make that's different from the slow travel mode is...well is different, is all I can say...
...by 12:15 they were about 1/2 mile west of Battleship Island...
...at 1:18 they were headed for Mouat Point...

...Katherine, dog Tucker and crew of the 'dog boat' left Spock and Comet at about 3:00 pm after they had gone through Active Pass. Katherine also said that early on there was a bit of milling and two breaches off Henry Island, most likely by Comet K-38...but that was it...
...Capt. Jim said that at 6:15 pm Spock and Comet were heading toward East Pt., which meant they were coming back toward Boundary Pass...would they come down the west side or go down Rosario Strait (which it appears they may have done during the night between day 1 and 2)?


more questions and ponderings:
..are the others out on the outer coast waiting for Spock and Comet to show up...who 'hugs the tree' so to speak...are the ones not here 'hugging the tree' out there on the outer coast and Spock and Comet doing the same here in the inland waters...therefore not finding each other...


...how will they find each other?...will it take Granny, the matriarch of the community to bring J Pod in and they stumble upon one another?...

...or will it be Skagit K-13 - Spock's mom and Comet's grandmother to bring the rest of the family in so they will find each other?...



~~~~

Wednesday, June 10th - Chapter 5

...I get a call to let me know whales were nearby...off I went and was able to get pictures of them...they were so far from shore, but with Spock's distinct saddle patch and Comet surfacing next to her...
...seeing Mega L-41's tall dorsal fin...
...and then 3 other members of the L12s group...

...Spock and Comet had met up with some friends...
...someone asked if what they thought they heard last night, at about 11pm, could have been Spock and Comet...
...it was most likely the L12s who must have come in undetected...it was just too great a distance for Spock and Comet to cover between 6:15 and 11pm...when the whales were first seen this morning they were coming up island...and as you can see from the images above, the whales had turned and were heading back down island...typical for the L12s... 

...the next day they were off the southwest side of the island again...only Mega and Ocean Sun L25 passed by the lighthouse before turning and going back down island...
 


NO MORE 'TREE HUGGING' NEEDED but Spock and Comet are still not 'home' just yet, with the rest of their family...I just hope they will stick with the L12s...

Capt Jim got a great breach shot of Comet and finally we now know that Comet is a male!!


~~~~
Thursday, June 18th - Chapter 6

A week later...they were spotted 'in coming' (Strait of Juan de Fuca) with J Pod!!

I was on Capt. Jim's boat and we went out to meet the whales as they came in...Spock and Comet were right up in the lead and zoomed past us...

...then came the rest...the L12s and all of J pod...and in toward San Juan Island they were headed...we had to leave before they made it to Haro Strait...
 
~~~~
Friday, June 19th - Chapter 7
...it gets even more interesting...
...after dark the evening before, the whales made it in to Haro Strait...at some point in the night they went north, but we don't know if they all did or just J pod, whales where seen way to the north today, but there was no confirmation on who it was...

~~~~
Saturday, June 20th - Chapter 8
...okay, now it's getting really wild...

SO...this morning J Pod showed up going to the south end of the island very early..thanks to a phone call, I took off in my car to try to locate them...I located them off Salmon Bank...I watched them for a while and they seemed to be hanging around there or a bit farther out...but later I learned that no one could find them...then a report came in that whales were seen at at place called Whirl Bay...out by Race Rocks...but that was too far in that time frame...so that couldn't be J Pod...or could it?...

..we were on our way, when 'magically' J Pod appeared coming up island, ...out on Capt. Jim's boat...we went to find the leaders...they were approaching Turn Pt. ...we were hoping to see Ruffles J-1 and Granny J-2 - we did...

...and guess who was with them?....Yes! - Spock and Comet...when I first saw Spock's saddle patch, I thought for sure it was her and excitedly called back to Capt. Jim..."you gotta get up there I think Spock and Comet are with Ruffles and Granny!"....I was so excited when I confirmed with my camera and binos that it was them...!
...the four of them were way up ahead of the rest of J Pod...they were surfacing and diving closely together...

Ruffles was animated!! ... tail lobbing, on his back, pec slaps - the most active I think I have ever seen him in my 5 years watching...he even came bursting through the surface with a forward leap...

...Spock breached...and Comet...and Granny too!

I wonder how long the 'company' will remain with J Pod?
Will they stay until K Pod returns?
Will J Pod stay in now for a while?
Will Spock and Comet now stay with J Pod as part of the 'realignment' or 'restructuring' since Lummi K-7 died last year? 

 

~~~~

Sunday June 21st - Chapter 9

Oh the whales!..what a surprise of a day!...rain in the morning, breaking into sunshine as the whales began to pass by at the light, going up the west side...(it appeared they had gone down Rosario St. last night)...who would be here today?...and who would be traveling with whom?.... I just couldn't wait to find out!

...nice to see Shachi J-19, Eclipse J-41 and Spieden J-8 in a proximity closer to Ruffles and Granny than they had been yesterday...and instead of Ruffles being with Spock, Spirit L-22 was his companion, at least for a while...

...speaking of Spock, she and Comet were with Samish J-14 and her kids..very cool...as the whales were passing by at the light they began to forage...it's amazing to watch..whales going in every direction at the same time...then circling...sometimes lunging...sometimes what looks to be playing...it was only for a few minutes as they continued to move north...


...they were moving at a 'normal speed' and didn't seem unusually excited...
...I wonder if they knew someone else was on their way down...

...the next thing we heard was word that the rest of L Pod (maybe 30 more whales) and maybe even the rest of K Pod (17 more whales) were heading south...they came through Active Pass, through Swanson Channel down toward Turn Pt....J Pod, Spock and Comet and the L12s were heading up toward Turn Pt.

 

~~~~
Monday, June 22nd - The Last Chapter

aahhh...back with their family...

Spock and Comet were with their family, the rest of K pod, and all of J pod were present as they came down island toward Lime Kiln and beyond...and that's what occurred with Spock and Comet from June 6th - June 22nd.


post script:  Spock and Comet have stayed with their family ever since (as of the end of 2012)...as far as we know :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

4-26-09 Whales and Puppy Dogs - What Do They Have In Common?



Original post was April 26, 2009
I had a computer issue and had to re-load, re-tag all - yes 'all' my images- thousands upon thousands...it lead to the uncovering of a most interesting and most hilarious sequence of images....when I thought I saw what I thought I saw, I had to send the pics to Dave of the Center for Whale Research to verify my 'imagination'...this is the most risque this site will ever get, but I just had to share this!


...it occurred in August of 2008, I was sitting along the shore on the west side of the island as the whales were passing by...all three pods were present, J Pod mainly in the lead with K Pod next...they were mixed up too...several L pod whales came in close to shore and were the last of the whales to pass by...

...as one of the whales was surfacing he rolled over on his back...looked like he might be playful behavior??...and just like a young puppy dog often does when they get excited...guess what this whale was doing?... the same thing!!!
...can you see what's going on?
...I'm not sure which of the males, but this is Gaia L-78 as they moved on...

I apologize if I have offended anyone, this was just too funny to pass up.