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Saturday, May 31, 2014

5-31-14 SOME OF J Pod is Here!

Saturday, May 31st
...6:00 a.m. clear loud calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophones!...I was in shock!...they came back!
...they were coming across from Discovery Island...they were spread out and slowly heading up island...
...here's my first picture of any J pod whale since February...it's been a long, long time...I am so glad to see them...

...I was invited to go out on the Center for Whale Research vessel, Orca, with Dave Ellifrit...and sea conditions were about perfect...

...we were surprised to find that some of J Pod was not present - Blackberry J-27 and his sister and brother and Oreo J-22 and her group...they'll show up...it just wasn't today...



...time out for a bald eagle crossing!
...I think our approach got the eagle motivated to attempt to get to shore faster...the eagle made it to shore and had nothing in its talons...thank goodness it was a sunny and warm day so he could dry quickly...
...on up Boundary Pass the whales went...all along the shore people were waiting at various places to see the whales...
...we know the folks on Saturna love the whales...The Whale Museum even has a whale named Saturna in honor of this place where the whales pass by - Saturna K-43...

...at one point early in the encounter some of the J14s stopped...they must have heard about the T65As and how they did a stop the other day...here's what the J14s did today...
...it was good to see Granny J-2, Onyx L-87, little J-49 and his family, Shachi J-19 and Eclipse J-41, Slick J-16 and her family, and Oreo J-22 and her two kids and her niece...

...and now we think of all the possibilities as to why the J11s (Blackberry J-27, Tsuchi J-31, and Mako J-39) and Princess Angeline J-17 and her family are not here...that's nine whales...

...from 2010 on J pod had split into two groups and I called them Group A and Group B, for the ease of not having to write their names/numbers each time...
...are we in the beginning stages of a new split?
...is it temporary due to the lack of salmon in these waters?
...maybe they have been influenced by Cappuccino K-21, who in the past has sometimes traveled with L pod for a short time...

...oh, there are so many possibilities...

...all we can do is wait and see what happens...at that time we can come up with more possibilities of what they had been doing!

Friday, May 30, 2014

5/29-30/14 The T65As Having A Good Time Around the Islands

Thursday/Friday, May 29/30th
...planning to get some work done on Thursday...well that didn't last long...I get a call from Spencer of Legacy Charters...and off I was headed...whales were coming down through Active Pass...we didn't know who or which way they might go once they exited the Pass...
...wrong way!- they were heading up Trincomali Channel - away from us...but it wasn't long before turned and headed back south...
...it was 'Lumpy' T65A and her kids and just as we were about to head back they decided to have a meal...it was quick...
 ...even baby T65A5 was in on the action...it's never too early to learn...
...this gull got a morsel...
...and T65A3 got a lot more than that!

...the last we heard they were heading back north and most likely would not see them tomorrow...
...in the early hours of Friday...2:00 a.m. I am awakened by very faint transient calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophones...the calls increased in volume and they continued vocalizing on and off until close to 7:00 a.m.!  
But it wasn't until close to 4pm when they were located...all the way down by the Deception Pass bridge...but away we went with Capt. Jim on Maya's Westside Charters...
...so early this morning it was the T65As who were making all that noise!...word was they had been seen close to 8 a.m. out in the big water - Middle Bank area - but since it is 'big water' it's not always easy to find a group of a mom and 4 kids...when they were located the second time they were heading up Rosario Strait...
...Washington State ferry in the distance...



...

...
...and eventually into Thatcher Pass where several harbor porpoise got out of their way quickly...I wasn't quick enough to get more than one at a time...

...we weren't sure where the whales might go next or where they might be tomorrow...

...and I was beginning to wonder if the Residents were ever coming back...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5-27-14 Hey - That's What the Residents Do!

Tuesday, May 27th
...Transients passing the lighthouse - again!  This is getting to be a common occurrence...

...on up island not far from shore...
...the lighting was spectacular and the seas flat...
...and the babies...they are always so 'cute'!  (T49A4 and T65A5)
...Hi Phyllis and David!!
...passing the Center for Whale Research...
...and into Open Bay...



...watch them as they are stopped ...it is not seen that often...sorry it's so shaky and it's difficult to see their fin tips at first...
...out of Open Bay and on up along the shore of Henry Island - "Hey, wait a minute, this is what the Rezzies do!"

...before heading back to the harbor on Maya's Westside Charters to pick up another group of whale watching seekers, we made a quick detour to show the folks on board the two adult males T93 and T97, who have become quite the regulars this last month...as you can see they were way off shore and not traveling near the other group...

  ...when the T49As and the T65As got to Turn Pt. they turned right and from then on they went back and forth...
...Moresby Island in the distance...
...they didn't eat anything all day long, but I learned that they made a kill a while later...Dave from the Center for Whale Research was on scene...he got some fun pics of them...check out their site as they are listing their encounters section available for viewing...

Monday, May 26, 2014

5-26-14 The Harbor Seal Express

Monday, May 26th
...out on Legacy Charters for an afternoon trip to meet up with some whales that had been spotted earlier in the day...they had come down through Active Pass...Capt. Spencer told me they had been eating harbor seals all morning long, so I was surprised to see they still at it when we arrived on scene...
...the whales were too far away to tell who was present...

...I didn't notice this until I looked at my images...
...I still wasn't sure what it was - a wound or what...
and then after while she spyhopped...
...she has three gashes...one above her eye, one below and the other one which was the long one...from this image her eye looked normal...
...it's T124A and the gashes look like maybe they are a few days old, but I really don't know...they are still pinkish, but not real bright pink...
...we had the T124As today...or at least those are the only whales I saw in my images...
...there was a lot of this going on...
...the whales seemed to finish their meal and began to travel...they seemed to maintain a course...but it wasn't long before they sped up - ah-ha!...they were after something...
...even the new baby T124A5 got in on the session...
...not sure if they were doing some training or they were serious about having another bite to eat...it was getting rather interesting...even Soundwatch got caught...happens to everyone from time to time...
...notice that boat on the left in the image above?...well that harbor seal noticed it too...and it wasn't long before...
...yep, that harbor seal decided a boat ride was just the ticket to stay alive for another day...the whales didn't seem too happy about the situation...they kept coming back over toward the 'seal boat'...
...and the last look was from T124A2...and then they moved on...
...on the way back I transferred to Capt. Jim's boat, as he was bringing some college students out for a quick look at the whales...the first time for most of them to see an orca in the wild...let me tell you all the squeals and excitement that abounded when they got their first glimpse...and their second...and third...it was so awesome to witness such exuberance!


...two little ones under a year old seems to add the 'baby factor' to an encounter...and on our way back to the harbor we saw two very tall ships...and had to go say hello...S.A.L.T.S. 
....whenever I see these tall ships I just realize I live in 'magic land'...what an awesome place this is...
...now if only there was salmon to feed the whales...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

5-25-14 Same Whales Different Waters

Sunday, May 25th
...right outside of Friday Harbor were the T49As...now that's a real change from yesterday...today it was calm seas, drizzling and whales closer to home!
...in fact they circled Jones Island...then on to another island to go half way around and then turn back...on to another...you get the idea!
...the T49As are sort of regulars in these waters...and have been for several years now...
...the first sighting of the new baby in this family - T49A4 - was March 13th while out on Maya's Westside Charters...we were looking for Dall's porpoise and found whales instead!...link to that post...
...today the whales were just meandering about...T49A4 next to mom T49A and T49A1 and T49A3 are behind them...
...T49A4 and mom T49A...
...and back again...sprouter T49A1 on the right...
...this was the first really gray day we've had in quite a while...


...there is another family member, T49A2, but he travels with his aunt - really!
...the two sisters and their offspring used to travel together all the time, but maybe with their growing families they have gone their separate ways...we see them all together once in a while...
...the T49As have been seen for two days now...I wonder if we'll see them again tomorrow...
 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

5-24-14 Will We See An Orca Today?

Saturday, May 24th
...and the little boy quietly said, "Will we see an orca today?"
...and then five minutes out of the harbor he and his brother fall asleep!
...in order to see whales today we had some choppy seas to get through...off we were on Maya's Westside Charters...headed to Becher Bay, west of Race Rocks...
...the whales were still heading our way and if they kept coming we might just 'see an orca today'.

...arriving on scene the next thing to do was wake up the kids...and that wasn't an easy task!...the whales were under and we waited and waited...everyone was looking and then Nicholas said quietly, "I see an orca." They had surfaced right where he was sleepily looking out the window!
...the looks on Zachery and Nicholas were priceless - their smiles couldn't have gotten much bigger!...Connection made for the future!
...we got some nice looks at the whales those first few minutes because most of the time it was more like this...
...then T49A1 began surfing the waves, of course he didn't stay up like people do...but still fun to watch!


...the whales turned toward the south...a parting shot of mom and new baby with the Elwha Valley in the distance...

...I know the transients may not be too interested in what goes up the Elwha River but the Southern Residents might - Chinook salmon - hopefully the native wild Chinook will be allowed to return and restore themselves to what was once the greatest!
...on our way home we saw some kite surfers who were liking the wind today too...
...in the morning these whales had been all the way out at Sheringham - we're glad they made it in this far for the afternoon...