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Sunday, November 24, 2013

11-24-13 That's Why You 'Gotta' Have Pictures!

Sunday, November 24th
...the phone rings, it's Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research, "did you see those whales?" 
...of course I replied with, "No! what? where?" ...then... "Okay, I'm out the door to see if I can pick them up!"
...I get to Land Bank, on the west side of the island, and based on what Ken had told me it didn't take long to locate them. I was totally surprised I could pick them up from that distance, but Ken's information about location and with their blows made it possible...
...it wasn't long before he showed up with his friend, who had first spotted the whales from the Center...with their 'big eye binos' they were able to track them better than I with my 10x50s...
...off to the boat to go out with friends to see if we could catch up to the whales...Ken, friend, and Dave were not far behind...
...how many whales - 6 to 7, maybe the ones from the other day...but we'd have to locate them first to know for sure...
...we went 'this' way and the other boat went 'that' way...but no contact was made...
...Capt. Jim had a private trip this morning and let us know that he had seen two humpbacks, a mom and a calf, traveling up island and to let him know if we make contact with the killer whales...
...Ken and crew had also spotted two humpbacks off Beaumont Shoal...but we were way to the south still looking for the transients, so we didn't see any humpback whales today...
...soon we headed toward Discovery Island and were going up Haro Strait, closer to the Vancouver Island side...
...we were approaching lots of bird action...an eagle flying amongst them...

...as I was watching the birds, off on the far side of this large area I saw the whales...oh, my, what a low profile they were keeping!...I just saw that one surfacing and down they were for several minutes...but I saw 'Arrow' (actually T38C) so I figured they were the same whales as a couple days ago...
...the next surfacing showed me why we had such a tough time finding them...we could barely see their blows!...

...the previous encounter with this group occurred off San Juan Island two days ago...they were sly when taking seals (or seemed to be)...and today they were once again sly...for a while the whales seemed to be in a resting pattern and were taking 6+minute dives...sometimes they would zig or zag, but for the most part they were maintaining a steady course...
...at one point they woke up, but I couldn't tell if they were playing around or got something to eat...
...they continued on and it was getting time for us to head back...
...the whales were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca...'Arrow' was pointing the way, and the way was west!...
...but will that be 'it' for their unusual visit to these inland waters?...who will get the next proof of presence images?...- that is the only way that one can verify a sighting is accurate...and to verify if a person is reporting about their encounter OR re-reporting something they heard/read about but were not present to witness, and that often leads to inaccurate information and to taking credit inappropriately...

...the whales we saw and got pictures of today are an interesting group...some members of three different family groups... T35, T38, T38B, T38C, T38D, T75B, and T75C...on the 16th of November while out on Maya's Westside Charters we encountered the other members of two of these families (see my blog post 11-16)...will they meet up in these waters or out on the outer coast as they head back up toward Southeast Alaska?...or perhaps they may stick around here for a while...
...I am wondering where T75B1 will show up next...in the transient world it's not uncommon for kids to be seen with a group other than mom...we wait and watch and look and match up...that's why 'you gotta have pictures'!

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