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Sunday, November 17, 2013

11-16-13 Who Are These 4 Whales?

November 12th - Saturday, November 16th
...one exciting day full of marine life does not guarantee the next...in fact there were no Pacific White Sided dolphins spotted anywhere, no Transient killer whales found, not even a Dall's porpoise or a Harbor porpoise...
...out on Maya's Westside Charters, as close as we got to 'black and whites' were some very curious black and grey harbor seals...
...then to the other end of the light spectrum - a rainbow!
...that gull wanted some scraps from that Steller sea lion...

...no true 'black and whites' did we see on November 12th...
...out again November 14th on Maya's Westside Charters...
...Long tail ducks...
...he had a great vantage point...
...and then we were getting closer to the right species...
...there were two groups of Dall's porpoise in two different locations, the animals in one group were all huge!, while the others, not as large and some in pairs - assuming moms and offspring...fabulous encounters with both groups!


...but no killer whales seen on the 14th either...

...and then, out on Maya's Westside Charters on November 16th...we had heard there were a couple humpback whales in the Saanich Inlet a few hours before we headed out...we thought we'd give it a try...once we got to about the middle of Haro Strait the water became like a sheet of glass...our first 'black and whites' were...

...they are not a common bird for me, so it was pretty neat to see them and to see many too...onward to the Saanich Inlet...it was great conditions for spotting killer whales - transients - and a perfect area for them, in and among these islands we were passing...but none were to be found...
...as we entered the Inlet I began looking for the blows of humpback whales...they could have come back up and be exiting the Inlet by now, or not...they could be further down...THEN!...off in the distance I saw a blow then another and I saw dorsal fins...soon we could tell it was not humpback whales but it was some killer whales!...our quest paid off!  :)
...I could see there were two adults, both looking like females and two kids...
...and...
...a total of 4 transients we encountered...

..."oh, I know that one! I've seen it in the DFO book"...never thought I would ever actually see her...T38A...she has a white patch...it is the brightest white you can imagine...
...the other female whom I had not previously met...


...the two in front have to be T38A and T35A1...

...it kept me wondering:
I referred to the Towers/Ellis/Ford Bigg's Killer Whale Catalogue from 2012 (though one needs to find the catalogue once you get to that site) to match my images to the IDs and for some of the ages:
...T35A1 was born in 2010, making it seem unlikely for T35A to have had another calf, who looks at least 2 years old...BUT then I looked at T99 - she had her second calf in 2007 and her third in 2009...I also saw that T37A1 and T37A2 were born two years apart and in the catalog images they look similar in sizes to the two calves we saw during this encounter...

...maybe that unknown calf is the second calf of T35A and it was born in early 2012 and/or it's just really big for it's age...

Then again, might this unknown calf belong to T38A?

...T38A was born in 2000...which would have her giving birth at age 11...I found that a couple others had their calves at age 11...so it's not impossible...

OR...maybe T35A was baby sitting for T38A...

I have been every which way on this one, and now after looking through all this my guess is that this is the second calf of T35A...maybe this calf is younger than he/she looks...notice the eye patch and the yellowish coloration...some calves have that for a long time and others don't...

BUT...wait I must for the researcher to let me know...
...update:  I got verification from Mark Malleson, who had seen these same whales earlier in November.  He verified with DFO that the calf is T35A2...

...and I realized that T38A, who I was assuming is a female, only because the whale looks like a female, could actually be a male who has yet to sprout...so, I guess we'll see how that part turns out too...

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