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...
video


..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...

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