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Sunday, November 30, 2014

11-30-14 What Were They Doing?

...yesterday that is..this is a continuation from yesterday's post.
...click to enlarge the cartoon...

...my attempt to show what the whales might have been doing during their unusual foraging behavior yesterday...

...in the center are the small fish...
...surrounding them are the winter Chinook - aka Blackmouth...
...BTW...the Blackmouth are not paying attention to anything but the little fish...
...the orcas, notice the smiles on their faces...waiting...
...and then they would begin going after the salmon...see the video clip on the prior post...

...I hope you enjoy the picture...it took me hours to make - LOL!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

11-29-14 J Pod Left The Scene Undetected!

Friday/Saturday, November 28/29th
Friday, November 28th
...an audio whale evening...J and K pod calls over the Port Townsend hydrophones at about 10pm...they were coming out of Puget sound...

...Saturday, November 29th
...28 degrees, winds gusting big time, and whales spotted in several places not far from Friday Harbor...it was a great time to try out some of that cold weather gear...and off to Ruben Tarte Park to see if I could spot whales amongst those white caps, wind and chill...no whales...
...but later in the day they showed back up again...having gone west through Spieden Channel...it was still biting cold, but the wind had slowed a bit and the seas were actually not too bad...so....out with Capt. Jim to see who was there...
...as we approached the location we couldn't see a whale anywhere!...there were supposed to be 45 whales here...
...one group surfaced in the distance and instead of going west they had changed direction and were heading back toward Spieden Channel...

...it was J pod and Onyx L-87...Granny was in the lead...
...K pod was here too!
...their behavior was unusual in the way they moved...'almost quietly'...in a large circle and very slowly moved in closer...
...and then...zoom!...zoom!...zoom!-that's on the video clip...they were after something...I commented that it looked like they were going after herring...of course I have no idea what that looks like...
...but the whales were after fish and as my 'go to fisherman for education' told me it's winter Chinook time...maybe the whales were after the Chinook...and the Chinook were after the small fish...that makes more sense!
video

...and in the end J pod was nowhere to be seen and only K pod was present...
...J pod had 'quietly' left the scene while we were focused on all that zooming by the K pod whales. Amazing!...and they had so many options as to which way to go!
...K pod continued to  traveled down Haro Strait...
...it was getting late...we dropped off and went into the harbor...they continued on down and where they will be tomorrow is a good question!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11-26-14 The Answer Came on Wednesday

Tuesday, November 25th
...it was about 8 a.m. when I began hearing the whales over the Port Townsend hydrophones...the whales were heading out...
...several hours later their calls could be heard very faintly over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...I guessed that the whales were somewhere in the Hein Bank area...
...then another hour or so later they came across the Lime Kiln hydrophones again, only this time a bit louder, though still in the distance...as I was listening, their calls (Js and Ks I only heard) increased in volume...and they sounded like they were reacting to something - they were very vocal!...I made a note:  "fish or more whales?"
...soon they moved out of hydrophone range...and I heard nothing more over the hydrophones until the next morning...

Wednesday, November 26th
...early light (almost). flat calm water...in fact it was so pretty out there I stepped outside and just looked...and looked and soaked it all in...I thought "it would be nice if the whales were here." - I didn't think they were...
...over the Lime Kiln hydrophones I heard a short squeak...then nothing...then a ship's noise began...I heard nothing more until 45 minutes later, when at 7:43 a.m. the whales' calls burst over the Lime Kiln hydrophones!
There was the answer from yesterday: "more whales"!  J and K pods must have heard L pod coming in from the west! (but no one would know that until later in the morning.)
 
...I called Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research...he said he could see them...etc...so out the door and to the park I went...
...when I saw the whales they were heading down island...maybe close to three miles off shore (or more)...I wondered if maybe they had come through Baynes Channel...
...I watched as the whales, I was seeing, got to Beaumont Shoals marker and turned away from San Juan Island...I had expected they would have continued on a right to left direction as I was watching them, but instead I could only see them as they headed away...but that is only from my visual point on shore...and I wasn't seeing 78 whales...
...out on Maya's Westside Charters...Capt. Jim gathered up the people early and we were off the dock...by that time the whales were somewhere in the area of the south Hein Bank marker (it's out there in that big span of water-water, and they were heading for Puget Sound...
...on our way Capt. Jim talked to Dave of the Center...he and Ken were out there and stated that all members of the Community were present!  WOW!
...what a wonderful day it was...at one point I felt like on whale overload!...we have hardly had all members of the Community in here at the same time - a real full Superpod - this entire season...

...when we saw them they were in mixed groups...
...with Blackberry and Comet were Spirit L-22 and Mako J-39...there were others with them as well...
...off in the distance was a large group...
...they too were all mixed...they don't all surface as a full group at the same time and this was a good example...best I got in this group were 8 up at the same time...and all the images I took of this distance group showed that there were at least 12 whales - ...Racer L-72 and Fluke L-105, Shachi J-19, Eclipse J-41, Matia L-77, Joy L-119, Ocean Sun L-25... Tahlequah J-35, Notch J-47, Cali K-34, Tsuchi J-31, Calypso L-94...and more I couldn't get a positive IDs on...
...the farthest to the left is the tail fluke of Fluke L-105!...everyone else was moving along and he was 'goofing along'.
...one of the whales spyhopped and then on her next surfacing had kelp on her head...
...she continued on and then surfaced again with the most kelp I have ever seen a whale carry on its head...maybe she had a salmon caught in it!
...a different group surprised us...they too were all mixed...
Moonlight L-83 and Midnight L-110 in front...not sure who is behind them...also in this group were Hy'Shqa J-37 and her boy T'ilem I'nges J-49 and Solstice L-89!
...Ocean Sun L-25 started doing these 1/2 breaches!  wow!
...Capt. Jim caught sight of a submarine next to a ship - whales and ships heading in the same direction...
...when we last left them it was just 1:00pm...

...it was 6pm when I began hearing them over the Port Townsend hydrophones...

...those in Puget Sound may have Thanksgiving whales this year like we did in the San Juans last year....and who knows (well the whales do) we might just have Thanksgiving weekend whales too!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

11-23-14 Going Into or Coming Out of Puget Sound?

Catching up to November 23rd...

...the last several days have been time for listening to the hydrophones and for catching up!


...one of the most interesting things I've heard recently over the hydrophones are these unusual sounds...and I don't know what is making those sounds, but I think it's fish...
...and I wonder if there is some relationship to those sounds and the whales showing up, because it often happens that way...


video



...those 'fish' sounds started showing up on the Lime Kiln hydrophones a couple days before the L12s showed up...then I didn't notice them as much...but when those 'fish' sounds began to increase in frequency...it got my attention...it wasn't long before more whales showed up...

...and now the whales have been spending lots of time in Puget Sound...hearing them over the Lime Kiln or PT hydrophones as they come or go, as I did this morning...their calls were very faint and intermittent, so I put together 7 of the calls with a space between each...
video

...but I don't know if they were coming in or going out!
...if those 'fish' sounds start to show up on the Lime Kiln hydrophones again and then the whales show up along the west side of San Juan Island...well, then just maybe...
...it's a long shot, but always fascinating to try to figure it out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

11/17-18/14 Vocal J Pod, Humpback, and Barking Sea Lion


Monday, November 17th
...at about 2 a.m. Transient calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophones...only for a few minutes and very distant...

...two nights ago at about 11pm I heard K pod calls...not sure about Ls or Js...but I didn't know a direction...so when I heard, via the grapevine, that Simon of Ocean Ecoventures got word that lots of whales had exited Active Pass going north yesterday morning (11/16)...well, that must have been them...but it was still a mystery as to who and where...
...then at 8:45 a.m. this morning (11/17), I'm talking to Ivan of the Western Prince who is telling me that Traci saw Residents at Turn Pt. and they were heading down...oh, goodie..."wait, I hear calls right now, but they are faint!"...so some were coming from the north...but were there others to the south?...throw on the winter clothes, watch the icy roads and get to the park to go find out...
...all I did was wait and wait but no whales in sight...then my phone rang and I was soon on the Center for Whale Research boat, Chimo, with Dave Ellifrit...we knew that whales were spread out...but that far?!
...one here, one there...they would surface once and be gone...who was present?...
...the first whale we saw was Onyx L-87 - ATTENTION PLEASE! - he is the one who travels with J pod and mainly Group A of J pod...so we started to look for the J pod whales...nope...not over there, or over there...
...by the end of the time with the whales we knew that we had not seen any J pod whales and at that time we didn't know of anyone else who had either...later I learned that both Traci and Monika had gotten a picture of Granny J-2!  what?...wild!...she and Onyx L-87...no other J pod whales were seen at all by anyone! - I think!
...click here for the Encounter page on the Center for Whale Research site for the write up by Dave and some of our pictures from the encounter...this encounter may not be posted just yet, but you can check CWR's encounter page... (11/18) Tuesday, 3 a.m. J pod calls loud and clear on Orca Sound hydrophones....
they were there for a while and then stopped...
...after re-listening to the recording I heard faint J pod calls behind some loud ship noise...
...then at 4:10 a.m. they started up again on the Orca Sound hydrophones again...
...and they had an accompaniment - a humpback whale!!!


video
...two hours later there was a strange sound...a barking California sea lion! - barking under the surface...
video

both were over the Orca Sound hydrophones...that was at about 6 a.m.
...it's pretty wild out there...

...I spotted the humpback whale from shore at about 8 a.m.
...at about 10 a.m. five California sea lions swam by in front of my place...
...but no killer whales did I see today!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

11-15-14 Which Way Did They Go?

Friday/Saturday, November 14/15th
...two audio days of Southern Residents and one afternoon with humpbacks...

Friday, November 14th
...4:01 a.m. over the Lime Kiln hydrophones I heard J pod calls...the calls were brief...they sounded as if they were coming in...but later I learn there are whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca heading west...
...that was just the whales keeping everyone guessing...
...by the afternoon they were spotted going into Puget Sound...

Saturday, November 15th
...they are coming out of Puget Sound...but it took them a good portion of the day to do so...out on Maya's Westside Charters in the afternoon, we knew that the Residents were out of our range - like maybe 50 miles away...lucky for us Spencer of Legacy Charters was out with two humpback whales...

...one of the humpbacks is MMY0028...
...the other...I believe is MMX0006...
...I noticed that MMX0006 has lots of barnacles and MMY0028 doesn't...
...we had two other whales, with the same barnacle 'set up'..one with and one without...I just find it interesting about the barnacle thing...don't know why some are loaded with them and others not...

...while going through my images I heard the Residents over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...it started a little bit after 6:00 pm...usually when they are passing through that one area they are not on the hydrophones for 1 1/2 hours like the were this evening...pretty nice to hear them so vocal...oh, my and then I heard them again, quite loud, at about 11:00 pm over Lime Kiln HPs again...

...in the last few days we've been seeing leaping salmon, again, just like we did before the L12s showed up on the 10th...
...it's not rocket science...they just need the food!

Monday, November 10, 2014

11-10-14 We Got Whales!

Monday, November 10th
...once November started, I kept thinking about several years ago - November 11, 2009 - when J pod whales showed up coming down island, passing Lime Kiln lighthouse...
...and that it could happen again...

...I was planning to go out on Maya's Westside Charters today for a noon time trip...but my hopeful memories told me to go scanning before the trip...
...maybe I'd spot a humpback whale, so when my eyes locked on the tall dorsal fin of a killer whale I about freaked!...I was so shocked I started to shake - LOL!!...and laughing at myself for trembling...and then I remembered November 11th, 7 years ago...okay, so one day off...
...back 7 years ago there had been a report several days before of whales seen to the north and they were 'swimming in circles'...all I could think of was 'baby', so when Polaris actually showed up with J-46 - yeah it was epic then too!

...okay, back to the present...November 10th, 2014...

...at first I thought that maybe they were Transients, mainly because I only saw about three whales...but then they spread out and that made me wonder, because the distance was greater than the way transients usually spread out...
...if I had been listening to the Lime Kiln hydrophones I would have known they were L pod whales!
video

...when I left them to head for the boat, they were heading down and were miles from shore...but when we got out there we were stretched to find them..uh,oh...
...earlier, from shore I had seen a sail boat near the whales, so we located a sail boat and the fellow let us know they had changed direction and were heading back toward San Juan Island...we headed that way...all of a sudden one of the passengers called out that something was just ahead of us...we got a brief glimpse and then nothing...
...we all wanted to see the whales and especially Noah, who had just studied killer whales in school - we just had to find them...

...Mark on Prince of Whales out of Victoria joined the search...he spotted blows up island...after seeing how far the whales were spread, the long dive times, and few surfacings in between...well, that filled in a lot of questions...
...Mystery's fin - what a hook it has!...but it doesn't always show like that...
...Lime Kiln lighthouse is in the distance on the left...the whales were at least three miles from shore when we finally saw them...
...still a puzzle to me as to which way they had come from...they might have come in, gone up so far and then back down...but what was most unusual to me was that when I saw them they were coming down from the north, at a steady pace and were miles from shore...KWDs (killer whale dots) at that time...
...they stalled out between Baynes Channel and Discovery Island and then came back towards San Juan Island, up past Lime Kiln - offshore - and then back down and headed out late in the day...

...the two moms and their little ones were spread way out...Mystery had disappeared for a while and showed up way north...
 
...then they began to come together...

...then Capt. Jim spotted some blows about two miles away...I grabbed a couple shots...it was Mega L-41 and probably Ocean Sun L-25...
 



...Dave from the Center for Whale Research zoomed over to verify who it was...


...Solstice L-90 and his mom Spirit L-22 were off from the others foraging...sort of like Mega and Ocean Sun - distance wise...


...just before Capt. Jim was about to depart I got to 'hop' (more like fall into) the Center for Whale Research boat and continue on with Dave Ellifrit from the Center...this is the last image I took from Capt. Jim's boat...
...while on the CWR boat we watched as the whales eventually all came together, Mega surprised us with a huge breach - and only once -and they continued their direction to the south and west...
...link here to the Center for Whale Research Encounter report, with images too, from today...

It was an epic November day!

NOTE:  a few days ago while out on the water a couple passengers commented a few times that they saw jumping fish - and they were big!...yesterday afternoon I saw that same thing three times...salmon leaping...and then today Residents showed up...interesting...

Friday, November 7, 2014

11-7-14 The Hydrophones A Busy Place


Friday, November 7th
...the Lime Kiln hydrophones have been a busy place lately...in the early hours today I heard transient calls...
...the calls occurred at three different times over about 1 and a half hours...
...here's a short clip...
video

...out on Maya's Westside Charters, we spotted a humpback whale...it was BCY0409, who has been nicknamed Yogi!...
...Yogi was heading down Haro Strait and toward Discovery Island lighthouse...eventually rounding the corner and heading a bit south and then west when we departed the scene...

...as far as I know those Ts I heard in the early morning hours were not seen and they can go where ever they want!
...maybe someone coming down Rosario Strait on Saturday, during the Round the County sailboat race will spot them!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

11-6-14 More and Different Humpback Sounds in the Night

11-06-14
00:23 a.m.
Now these are totally different humpback sounds from what I have heard before.


video

Those are two clips extracted from a total of close to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

11-5-14 More and More Humpbacks This Year

Catching up on the Humpbacks I've seen since October 26th...and it's been almost daily, sometimes at close range and other times blows in the distance...

...October 26th...on the Western Prince, flat calm seas, sunny skies, north end of Haro Strait...



...October 27th...on Maya's Westside Charters...two elusive humpbacks...they were taking close to 10 minute dives and going in huge circles...
 ...oops, I said 'he'...I haven't a clue if Split Fluke is a male or female...

...October 30th...the helicopter at the lighthouse day...I was watching what the helicopter was doing and could see two humpbacks in the distance...
video


...November 1st...that was the morning when humpback sounds had awakened me...later in the day out on the Western Prince we encounter...


...we went down Haro Strait about another mile and met up with...
...Split Fin and this other whale...I have no idea who this one is...

...there were a couple other whales farther south than these two but we didn't see them...

...a few days later a friend emailed me some fabulous images of a humpback in the kelp near Kelp Reef...the whale in the image she sent me was the one I call 'Three Circles Left'...the only way I can remember it...but it's actually CS280 - CS stands for Clayquot Sound, on the outer coast of Vancouver Island, north of Tofino...I've seen that whale before, in 2011 and 2013, and I'm sure others have seen it too...

...November 3rd...there they are again...even though far from shore, I pointed them out to a couple...one of them had never seen a whale of any kind before and she was thrilled...
...then the humpback surfaced higher and she saw its back...more excitement!

...November 4th...taking a walk at County Park...there's the humpbacks again...same place as yesterday...don't know if they are the same ones...too far out...

...November 5th...I get a phone call from Ivan of the Western Prince that humpbacks are in San Juan Channel and they were continuing down the channel...so off to the south end of San Juan Island...Ivan got the images and from what I could tell, it was 'Three Circles Left' aka CS280 and MMY0024, both who have been seen in the last few days...






...each year there seem to be more and more humpbacks showing up...glad that there is a 2014 Humpback Catalog put out by the Center for Whale Research !


...this weekend is the Round the County Sailboat Race - totally fascinating to watch over 100 (I think at least that many) passing by...
...last year several California sea lions were just up ahead of the racers as they got to the park...
...maybe some humpbacks will lead the way this year...
...I'd rather the Residents show up when it's a bit less crazy...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

11-1-14 Humpback Practicing Local Language?

Saturday, November 1st

Just listen to this...too cool...
It's all explained on the video.
video
...hope you enjoyed that as much as I did when I was awakened at 3:30 in the morning to all this!

note added:  Ken Balcomb, head of the Center for Whale Research, let me know that this is incipient song.  Thanks Ken!

...here's hoping we get to hear that song develop some more :)