Do Not Copy

Do Not Copy

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

12-31-13 If Only We Would Do For You What You Do For Us.

Tuesday, December 31st

...so I ask a question:  If these tags are for establishing/increasing critical habitat designation, yet current critical habitat does not apppear to be addressed and dealt with in a manner to benefit the whales (one example-purse seiners), why then spend so much time and $$ on other areas when it appears that not much is being done regarding the current Critical Habitat designation in the Salish Sea for the whales?

...link here to see what the federal government says about Critical Habitat.   Scroll to the bottom of that page and read what it says.
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/criticalhabitat.htm


Here is another link explaining what Critical Habitat is.

It may surprise you.  It did me.  When I hear the term Critical Habitat it sounds to me like they are going to take care of the habitat they designated to make sure - in this case - the whales will get enough salmon (food is the first basic needed to survival) which would hopefully help them to thrive and increase in population (the goal of the recovery plan).
BUT...when it states that economic, national security, and other relevant impacts 'have to be given careful consideration' (I understand that)...well then if the fishermen (just one example) raise their voices loud enough - oh, sorry whales you lose.  (It's the government that sets the fishing regulations.) Most sport fishermen I spoke with last season were just fishing what the regulations said. Let's not forget the purse seiners and other commercial fisheries out there...oh, and those harbor seals - they sure eat a lot of that salmon...

BUT...who is speaking for the whales?  It appears to me that the whales have no voice.
Here's my question: WHO is the party that will look at the pieces and reach a conclusion that will result in plenty of salmon (mainly the Fraser River Chinook salmon) without everyone and their own agendas getting in the way?
Yeah, I know - good luck with that.

This 'tagging business':
Will it have any affect for their future in a positive way?
How long will it take?...Because I don't believe the whales have forever - food the basic need for survival...

...2013 started with Scoter K-25 carrying in his dorsal fin a satellite tag, 'shot'(for lack of a better word) into him a few days prior (12-29-12)...throughout the year I tried to get images of his tag...was it still there?...was it gone?...what did the area look like?...(some of these images you may have seen on some of my prior blog posts)...



...when the lighting is just about perfect...




...2013 is ending with Onyx L-87 carrying a satellite tag that was 'shot' (for lack of a better word) into him on December 26th...




...and with Granny J-2 in the middle...
...then in the evening of December 30th, about 7:30 p.m. calls began coming over the Orca sound hydrophones...so wonderfully loud - especially for this time of year...

Thank you whales!
I hope the humans will be able 
to return the gift
in the form of an abundance 
of wild Chinook salmon for you in 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

12-22-13 Merry Christmas From the Whales!

Sunday, December 22nd
...just when I was beginning to wonder if I would ever hear the whales on the hydrophones again things changed...
...I had heard that J and K pod whales had been down in Puget Sound, which is not unusual for them at this time of year...at close to 11:30 a.m. I began hearing faint calls over the Port Townsend hydrophones...some J pod calls...
...I thought I was settling in to listen all afternoon to which ever HPs they showed up on next...meantime I got a call from Ron that there were whales over on the east side...then Capt. Jim calls to let me know...oh, well, no way to see them from here...about 12:15 I heard a few more calls on the Port Townsend HPs...and then the phone rang and soon I was off and running...
...Hobbes had gotten a call from the ferry about whales...his San Juan Water Taxi was 'at work'...he relocated the whales...out with Ivan of the Western Prince, with Chris of the Western Prince, Dave of the Center for Whale Research to hopefully have an early winter encounter...

...the whales had gone way up into West Sound...Tom Averna of Deer Harbor Charters was at a location where he could see them...
...we came through Wasp Passage heading toward West Sound...Hobbes was coming back down the west side of West Sound with the whales...there are three islands on the west side that were of interest to us:  Victim Island - the whales had already passed by there; then there was Double Island and then Alegria Island...see the vertical black arrow...

...as we were approaching I saw the whales in the distance at the other end of Double and Alegria Islands...they looked like they were aiming right toward the narrow passage between those two islands and Caldwell Pt. on Orcas Island...


..they took us on a tour, but I'm not sure of our exact travels, except that we traveled only 10 miles round trip...the whales were headed toward Crane Island and then turned, came back around going east in Harney Channel, passing the Orcas Ferry dock in the distance and Shaw Ferry...
...it seemed they had a meal as we got the whif of what is usually from the remains of a harbor seal...as they moved on baby T49B3 did a great little kid type spyhop...T49A1 was on the far side with someone else in the middle...
...the baby again - of course...with T49A2 on the right and T49B2 (I think) on the left...

...it was a grey day and the dark water created photo challenges, but I think the lighting was actually some of the best in an eerie sort of way...
...it wasn't long before T49A1 - the sprouter - and the kids began to play and play and play...even baby T49A3 was in on the play...


...T49A1 - caught in the act! - Capt. Jim has often told people, when he is retrieving someone's hat from the water, that they needed to know that whales peed in that water!...well, you know I like Proof of Presence images!
...last year, shortly before Christmas, the Residents came up the west side and gave us a Christmastime pass by...this year it's the Ts on the east side...Thank you whales!
...later, at home, while downloading images from the day I believe I heard a couple faint Resident calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...5:31 pm and again at 6:55 pm...very brief and extremely faint...but no recording so I can't verify it...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12-14-13 Rezzies Are Here!

Saturday, December 14th 2:20 a.m.

Yes! 
They're here!  
These sounds recorded at 2:20 a.m.
THIS MORNING!!!
Just maybe they'll come to the
10th Annual Tours to the Top!

...tomorrow, that is.
But they can come by today too, if that's where they might find some salmon.


Monday, December 9, 2013

12-9-13 If It Had Been Yesterday Today, Last Year

Monday, December 9th
...if it had been 'Yesterday Today, Last Year' then the whales would have showed up, though a bit early in the day, for Holiday Tours to the Top of the Lighthouse...
...they did show up today, but it actually began late yesterday and possibly a day or two before...
...confusing?...yes, I'd say so!

...December 6th...mid morning...extremely faint calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...

...December 8th...around 9 p.m...faint calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...
...December 9th...7:52 a.m....several signature L pod calls heard over the Lime Kiln Hps...then nothing...
...December 9th...around 8:40 a.m...loud and clear on the Orca Sound hydrophones- like so loud!

...but I hadn't seen anyone!...off and running...first stop County Park, since I thought they were going up island...wrong!
...they were coming down island!...off and running again!...to Lime Kiln! 
...four whales were approaching...

...as they approached, their angle wasn't helping me to ID and then they dove...oh, no!!!

...they were down...down..."won't someone please surface right here?"...

...his mom was present along with his sister L-83 and his nephew L-110...
...I'm not sure who these two are but it was a gentle looking touch...


...all the other whales were quite a distance from shore...
...after getting home I listened to the recording form the Orca Sound hydrophones and was surprised to hear calls from what sounded like all three pods...hmm...lot's of ship traffic and lots of ship noise...here's a short clip of what I heard over the Orca Sound Hps for close to an hour...


...mimic calls?...some members from all three pods?...there's even a call (repeated a lot) in there that I associate with the L12s or Onyx L-87...so I'm really curious who was there...
...all back together or still split?...
...as long as the whales know, and I'm sure they do :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

11-30-13 From Shore and Boat at the Same Time!

Saturday, November 30th
...it was a quiet morning that 'exploded' in a good way...
...I got a call there was a humpback close to shore, just a mile north of me, possibly coming my way...Maya's Westside Charters had just left the Harbor and they spotted it before I could reach them...
...then a call about Transients near Friday Harbor...
...I called Hobbes and he told me 'they morphed' into Residents! (that happened to me on the 28th!)
...off and running to meet friends on their boat...Dave Ellifrit, of the Center for Whale Research was with us...and down island we went to meet the Residents...
...we turned up into San Juan Channel and could see them...




...at first it looked like the whales might go on the inside of Goose Island, but then they angled out and went along the outside...




...as we were approaching where there is good viewing from shore, I saw Ken Balcomb, the head of the Center for Whale Research...

I didn't know until later that he was taking video!...I'm sure that splash and what occurred just before it is on the video he took - YouTube video
...we all got to see the whales from shore and boat for this encounter...
...and I bet he got this cartwheel on the video too...
...the whales continued to be surface active...and Granny - I just love it when she gets so animated!
 ...and finishing her cartwheel...
...and then she rolls over and...

...as the whales continued on, Cattle Pt. lighthouse became the background focus...of course...get a whale breaching with the lighthouse in the background or something like that...well, did I get lucky or what!

...and one more time, but this time it was Racer L-72...
...the whales seemed to split off into groups as they were exiting the pass...Ivan of the Western Prince, along with Chris and Sarah were with a group...one of the little kids - J-49 - kept spyhopping, and spyhopping, and spyhopping...maybe he was trying to get one hundred last looks at Sarah before she left - she was moving to a different state - oh-no!
...there's a split going on...
...NOT everyone was present today...

who was present today?
Granny J-2, Onyx L-87, (by matriline number) J19s, J14s, K12s, K13s, L4s, L21s, L26s, L37s...there wasn't a superpod coming down San Juan Channel today...41 whales
...those who were present on November 28th and NOT present in San Juan Channel today (Nov 30) were: J pod Group B, L54s, L-84, L-88, J16s, K14s, K16s and K-21...30 whales


...the others may have been coming down Rosario or Haro Strait...I didn't see any in Haro...so many options as to where they could be...I guess that might be part of the 'next chapter in the lives of J, K and L pods' !

Saturday, November 30, 2013

11-28-13 Thanksgiving Day Whales

Wednesday, November 27th
..."a squeak?" "What?" "It's the Residents!"...oh, wow, after three weeks of not hearing from them!...it sounded to me like they were coming across, but there was no telling where they would be the next morning...


Thursday, November 28th
...based on what I thought I knew from listening to the whales last night, I was out the door scanning early and was completely surprised when, right away I saw whales a few miles to the south and off shore...
...at first I thought it might be Transients, because I only saw 3 whales and last night I knew I had heard J pod whales, a few L pod calls and possibly some K pod calls but I couldn't be sure, but I knew it would have to be way more than just 3 whales...
...and then...oh, my goodness!...there they were - all over the place! 
...it wasn't long before I found myself out on the Center for Whale Research boat...when Dave spotted the whales I think everyone said, " Happy Thanksgiving!"
...the whales were spread for miles, slowly moving toward and up island...they were so full of energy, mixed up, lots of socializing - it was wonderful to see just about all the members of the community...as they passed by Lime Kiln Lighthouse they were very vocal...
...early afternoon I found myself on another boat...by now the whales had gone north past Kellett Bluff, Granny J-2 and some others were up ahead in the middle of Haro Strait...others, who were behind her, had moved off shore, going east to west, but still going up...
...what they did next was really interesting...one group made a turn at Halibut Island and traveled west along the island, coming out at the west side of Halibut and angled up to the south east side of Mandarti Island...

...then they turned and headed back into Haro Strait, turned left and continued heading up...
...then when they got to Tom Pt. off Rum Island, I could still see whales out in the middle, still going up Haro...(you can see on the video clip a whale, in the distance, breaching)
...the ones we were with stopped just south of the Rum Island and the next thing they did is something we don't get to see very often...we were getting a glimpse into their world of communication - perhaps deciding which way to go, maybe they were communicating with those out in mid-strait letting them know what they were going to do...it lasted a few minutes and was fascinating to watch...

...they traveled west along the south side of Gooch Island...
...having fun along the way...
...the west end of Gooch - a bald eagle in that tree...

...they then turned and traveled east through the very narrow channel between Comet (corrected from Canoe)Island and Gooch Island, and ended up back in Haro Strait...


...I think it may have been to avoid a strong ebbing current...

...when they came out into Haro Strait again, some others joined them and now the group numbered close to 40...they continued moving north...Simon, of Ocean Ecoventures was out on his boat...CB-CA = Cowichan Bay, Canada...
...he told me he could see blows up along the bluffs at Pender Island, that's where Granny and 20+ other whales were...
...with Morseby Island on their left, the 'island hopping' group we were with was heading up their way...

...and we went the other way very thankful for the day...

Monday, November 25, 2013

11-25-13 I Think She Was Trying To ID Us!

Monday, November 25th
...out on Maya's Westside Charters...I always tell the passengers that at this time of year we never know what we might see once we leave the harbor...but little did any of us know what was in store for us on this afternoon...
...Melisa spotted a humpback whale...
...the whale was a bit north of Kelp Reef marker...trending down island, zigging, zagging, and circling along the way...after getting south of the marker - deeper water - the whale showed her fluke...
...Capt. Jim said we'd watch the humpback for a couple surfacings and then head on to see what else we might find...the humpback didn't surface and didn't surface...where was she??? and all of a sudden she was spyhopping right next to the boat and just holding that spyhop!...she came up so quietly we didn't even know it until one person saw her LOL!!!...and then the 'adventure' began - amazing!
...we had not approached the whale.
...she came to us and because she did not leave the boat we could not move.
...she was under us...all around us...more than once her head was on the starboard side while her tail was on the port side! - Scary!!


...I don't know the ID of this whale...and this didn't add any information!


I've uploaded a 11 minute video to YouTube of this once in a life time encounter from today. (Of course if she sticks around she may do it again!) ...here's a 1 minute clip to give you an idea, but it pales in comparison to what's on the long version...

...this may be common in Hawaii during the humpback season, but it's not common here, making it all that much more unbelievable...