Do Not Copy

Do Not Copy

Friday, January 29, 2010

1-29-10 - Ruffles J-1 Event - Part 4

Friday, January 29th


... J POD IS BACK TOGETHER today!... 8:54 a.m. I could hardly believe it this morning when I thought I was hearing calls...and then I knew I was, and I knew I was hearing more than just one whale!......the park of course for me...I'll be in the middle no matter which way they were coming from......scan, scan - ah, there's a whale making a huge lunge all the way over by Kelp Reef marker...then I saw a few more whales...I knew it was J pod from their calls...now was Ruffles with them?...
...then Dave from the Center for Whale Research  called to say:
"Granny just nailed a salmon in front of the Center 
and Ruffles is with her."

...need I say more? whew? sigh of relief... woo-hoo!!!! Several whales were about a 1/2 mile off shore as they approached the lighthouse...

...Ruffles was in the lead with Granny not far behind...Blackberry J-27 was there with Mako J-39 nearby...Riptide J-30 and Samish J-14 (J-45 was around and seen later)...a big 'nursery group' was way way offshore...

...were all the whales of J Pod identified today? no...not all were, however, the whales were spread across the Strait for several miles... of some of the whales really far out, I thought I saw Spieden J-8 but didn't get a picture to verify...and another whale who hangs out with her, Keet J-33 I thought I saw him far offshore too, but no verification as of yet...

I had the privilege of accompanying Ken Balcomb and Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research on their research boat to ID as many as possible..there was a keen interest in the well being of the babies and I'm glad to say: ...BABIES all present and accounted for.

It was a joyful day and the whales seemed to be in pretty good spirits too!

 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1-28-10 Ruffles J-1 Event - Part 3



Thursday, January 28th

A Quiet Whale Day
As the mystery continued today there were conversations and questions all around and I wanted to write but not sure how...

...a day of questions,
...a day of theories,
...a day of emotions beginning to arise,

...yet all we can do is wait,
...wait with hope,
...gathering acceptance for whatever is to come.

...the wait may be short until answers are revealed,
...answers accompanied by sighs of relief,
...or tears of sadness.

...it could be tomorrow that news will arrive,
...storms and seas may delay that news,
...it could be several weeks until we know for sure.

...as a friend said today,
..."all we know is that we all care"
...care for the humans of the sea,

...for now it is not about boats, or yards too close or far,
...it's only about the well being of our friends out there.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1-27-10 Ruffles J-1 Event - Part 2

Wednesday, January 27th
Part 2 


...the last person who saw Ruffles yesterday said he was tracking down island, staying with the contour of the island as opposed to heading offshore...so I decided to scan as far off the south end of the island as I could...and eventually end up in town for a 10:30 appointment...then head back to the west side... if you ever want to know when the whales are going to show up on the west side just ask me when am I going to town! It never fails...yes, I was in town when calls started coming over the hydrophones...
...off I went the west side...I met up with another friend who went south to scan and I went to the lighthouse to scan...ah, ha! it wasn't too long when there he was AGAIN, just like yesterday, RUFFLES J-1 ...he was coming from the NORTH! -- what?...did he travel around the island last night???

...when I first spotted him he was tracking down island...he was much farther to the north today and to the northeast of Sydney Island...then he turned east...he continued east for several minutes...then he turned around and went back toward the west...there was a dark hulled boat out there, farther off to the northwest, and it seemed like there might be another whale or two near that boat...but they were so far away I couldn't tell for sure...I got word from Center forWhale Research that only Ruffles was seen...I guess those were 'hopeful whales' I was seeing out there...

...in my blog post yesterday I mentioned that there were faint calls in the distance...which to my untrained ear, that's what they sounded like... but today Scott told me that his analysis of the calls does not show any of the calls overlapping, meaning that they could have all come from Ruffles, and he could have been mumbling to himself...well don't we all mumble to ourselves at least once in a while???...

...we don't know why Ruffles has been alone for the last two days however:
...could this actually be normal behavior for him in the winter and has just not occurred within visual and acoustic hearing range in the past?

...maybe all those J Pod babies just got to be too much and he needed a break.
...is the rest of J Pod up in the Canadian Gulf Islands somewhere, and he is being the salmon scout?

...do we really know if this call is unusual for him?

at some point we may know why all this is happening...for now, 'we wait'...

As of this afternoon he was in close proximity
to the west side of San Juan Island...
so we will see what tomorrow brings...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1-26-10 Ruffles J-1 Event - Part 1



Tuesday, January 26th 
Part 1
...it began with a strange sounding call...at first I thought it was something squeaking on a ship that was passing by...then I realized the ship had gone and the sound was still happening...I didn't get a chance to record so if you want to hear the recording Scott made go to the Orca Sound Limekiln page...
Archived sounds from Lime Kiln...in the grey box below that, scroll down until you see:
100126-1235-1311 003615 lk repeated....click on that.

...off I went to the park (of course) to look...I almost gave up, when there he was!...Coming from the north...a few miles offshore...looking from the lighthouse toward Kelp Reef marker, he was just to the south side of it and a few miles away...who was it?...

...it looked like Ruffles...I looked at my pictures on my camera, but I hate to ID someone from that far away using my camera...He was traveling in a methodical manner, a few surfacings and then a longer dive...traveling in a 'straight line' down island, a couple miles from shore...unfortunately I had no access to the hydrophones so I didn't know if he was making these calls or if there were other whales in the area...so I kept scanning...

I talked to Beam Reach/hydrophone Scott and we pretty much concluded that this was the whale making the call...based on Scott hearing the calls (volume) and my seeing the whale (location)...he also let me know that others had heard some other calls that were very faint...whew! the rest of J Pod must have been around somewhere...Dave, from the Center for Whale Research, told me that he has seen them do this in the past...most of the pod would go close in along the east side of Vancouver Island... that might explain it...
...anyway...I could still see Ruffles traveling down island, then after another 20 minutes or so, and, deciding there was no one coming from the north (for at least 15 minutes) I would go south and look and then come back...I couldn't find Ruffles anywhere...I went to County Park and scanned to the north...it was a flat calm day - thank goodness - and I could see up to Henry Island and across Haro Strait but no more whales...so, when all else fails go to the park and wait...

...two more hours of scanning and no whales in sight...
what was the most bothersome to me was the sound of the call I had heard before leaving home...it was a very unusual call, not one that I associate with J Pod...but I'm no expert...and maybe it seemed unusual because it was the only call I was hearing...
...then later I got word from Scott who forwarded info from John Ford: "I've often heard whales that are traveling apart from the rest of the group repeat a single call over a long period in a similar fashion, though mostly just in the northern residents. This kind of repetitive calling is usually associated with high excitement levels."
Thanks Scott and John...that's pretty interesting...

...will J Pod be heard on the Pt. Townsend hydrophones tonight? ...will they show up on the Lime Kiln hydrophones?...or maybe they are going out the Strait of Juan de Fuca...

...I surely hope someone spots the rest of the pod, so we can all sleep well.