Do Not Copy

Do Not Copy

Monday, December 28, 2015

12-28-15 Great Day on the Water!

Monday, December 28th
...calm seas, no rain, trip?...oh, yes!...no whales...no matter - calm seas and no rain!

...but then about an hour before the trip on Peregrine - Ts showed up...and they were coming our way...and so was Ron on Eagle Wing...I just had to say 'Hi!!"

...it was the T10s and they came into Haro Strait from Baynes Channel and headed up island way over on the Canadian side...
...the lighting was pretty spectacular...winter light...
...one of the males was after a harbor seal...

...I love the size difference - yikes!
...when the meal, or should it be called 'snack' was ready...
...the T10s were miles from Kelp Reef where this Steller sea lion was...
...and on back to the harbor...
...nice to see some friends while out there today...Ron, whales, and even some ancient murrelets!
...and our Resident friends...no telling where they are except that at the moment they don't seem to be anywhere near these parts!
 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

12-20-15 The News Came from the Ferries!

Sunday, December 20th
...at first it was at about 8:15 and 5 to 6...no make that 6 to 10 or 12...no make that 2 females and a juvenile...okay, take your pick!...seen from the ferry that was coming across...it was on the south side of Shaw Island coming to or leaving Friday Harbor...but then it was Wasp Island...not...(note to self - take navigational map with you next time)...
...getting to Ruben Tarte Park and seeing a friend and his family there too...we could pick up blows way, way in the distance...
...the last of the blows we saw were on the San Juan Channel side with Shaw Island behind them...that was at 9:15...they looked like they were coming up the channel...and that was all...hummmm..

...at about 9:50 a.m., Andy spotted a humpback whale coming down from Flat Top area into San Juan Channel and going down island...(distraction #1)...

...a few minutes later a boat comes down from the north west and appears to be going across the channel but then stops...hummm...(distraction #2)...
...during distractions #1 and #2 - we were looking across and to the north...J Pod had evidently just appeared coming west along the south side of Shaw Island...had they come north we would have seen them soon enough...
but as it stood the distance was great and the whales turning the corner and going away...well, we might not have even been able to see their blows...

...by 11:00 and no killer whales seen for the last two hours, the wind picking up, the rain starting to spit, and being the only one left standing there getting really cold...time to leave...
...it was because of something Hobbes said..."they might have split up."...with that niggling on my mind I decided to go to Cattle Pass...what the heck, the sun was shining on west side of the island and I needed to get some miles on my car (after a big repair job), so down island I go...half way to Cattle Pass I get a message from Capt. Jim that 20 to 30 killer whales had been seen going west along Shaw Island toward San Juan Channel and that was about an hour ago (during distraction #1 and #2!)...

...would I make it?...it had been over two hours since that large group was seen...I drove faster...and now the question was, "do I stop at the top of that huge hill and scan out into Haro Strait in case those whales had already exited the pass or do I go all the way down to the Cattle Pass parking area."...something said..."keep going!"...

...just as I am pulling into the lot I see dorsal fins just to the up island side of Goose Island - "oh, my goodness, I made it!"

...it looked like all of J pod was together today...saw the big boys - Mike J-26, Blackberry J-27, Doublestuf J-34 for sure...saw lots of babies too...
...they went by quickly and pretty nicely grouped up...I snapped away...thinking that my camera was capturing all those cartwheels, a spyhop and the south end of Goose Island, a breach or two...
...then they got a bit distant so I took a bit of video...
video

...I followed them out of the pass and watched as they appeared to have found some fish...they had split up, were lunging this way and that, for several minutes...and some even looked like they might head up island...
...taking a picture of a couple of them with the grasses along the shoreline looked pretty neat...I looked at the picture - IT WASN'T THERE!...neither were all but a couple of the other images I had taken - arrgh!  What have I gone and done now?

...I watched as they got closer to Salmon Bank marker...this time the image registered in the camera...
...seeing that they were heading west, well, I was glad...a dear friend of mine was going to be on the big boat of Eagle Wing this afternoon, and he hasn't had the opportunities to see the whales much this year...today he would...and he most likely will get to see all those J pod babies...
A Merry Christmas to all who know and love these whales.
Now let's give them a good Christmas and years to come 
with lots of wild Chinook salmon! 

And if the whales show up again before Christmas...I'll say it again :)
And if I get those images out of my camera I will post them!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

12-16-15 FIVE J Pod Babies Passing the Lighthouse Today

Wednesday, December 16th  (This post is updated 5a.m. 12-17- I was waiting for the Center for Whale Research to make the announcement.)  Scroll down the page to see Polaris and NEW BABY J-54 as they passed the lighthouse the morning on 12-16!

...I had heard that K and L pod whales were heading in yesterday...I heard nothing from them over the hydrophones during the night...
...I had also heard that J pod had showed up in Puget Sound the day before and were pretty far down in there yesterday...
...so off to town to mail a Christmas package to Alaska...(the receipt says it was 9:33 -it does play a role in this)...it was calm the sun was shining, so I decided to go home via the water view way...when I got to the west side the water was flat calm...wow!...so I stopped at the corner...get out of the car...don't even get the binos, when I see a dorsal fin!
"Yikes! There's whales!" I saw a couple fins and long dives...no time to wait..."get to the park." Residents or Transients?...at that point I had no idea...
...you know the story...run, get to the lighthouse area...they weren't close to shore and if I hurried I could make it...
...and here they came..it was just about 10 a.m....I still didn't know who was there until I heard echolocation clicks over the Lime Kiln hydrophones - "Rezzies!"
...listen for the tapping sounds...I tried removing as much background noise as possible, so any sounds other than the tapping were not from the whales...
video

...okay so, who?...
...Talk about mixed up whales! They were moving around, switching places so much it seemed like there were twice as many babies as there were.
...at first Alki J-36 had her offspring, Sonic J-52 with her...
...then Sonic J-52 was traveling with Eclipse J-41...
...her calf is Nova J-51, he was behind them...Sonic's mom, Alki J-36, was on the offshore side from them...
...there was some foraging, so some 'kid looking after' may have been going on...
...I thought I saw J-50 somewhere in the group..."oh, there's 'CatchUp' catching up again"...actually it's Scarlet J-50...though I saw her I wasn't successful in getting a proof of presence image of her...

...I could see some blows miles offshore...
...not sure how many whales were offshore but there didn't seem to be a lot...I concentrated on those in close...

...Slick J-16 and Shachi J-19 came by...no babies with them...moms'/grandmas' social time perhaps...
...then came Princess Angeline J-17...I so hoped that baby J-53 would be there...not with mom - arrgh...

...ah, but there, behind Princess A. was the baby, in between the baby's brother, Moby J-44, and cousin, Notch J-47...
...Notch's mom and baby J-53's aunt, Tahlequah J-35, was nearby...
...there were some direction changes for a several minutes, a few surface behaviors, and some porpoising (too far away at that point for images)...they were catching up to Tahlequah and Princess A.
...ADDED - and when I put in this line: 'a few more whales came past the lighthouse and then no more' it was a place holder for this:
...I saw Polaris J-28...since she has always been rather independent my caution lights didn't come on...she was about 10 minutes behind the rest of the J17s...
...but then!...
...I immediately called the Center for Whale Research (link to read the rest of the story on their announcement page) - of course! 
...I could hardly contain myself, but I knew I had to keep it to myself until CWR confirmed it...look to see the awesome photos Dave Ellifrit got of the newest member of J Pod~ - WOW!

...Polaris' offspring, Star J-46 was traveling off from Polaris and new baby J-54 as they passed by the lighthouse...

...after about a 1/2 hour I thought I would scan down island, one more time, to see if there were any others coming up...
...little did I know a humpback was coming down island and surfaced about 200 yards from shore right by where I was standing...needless to say...surprised me to pieces with that blow!
...but that wasn't all...more on this day later...with what was added about the new baby - that was all - isn't that enough!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

12-14-15 Early Morning Calls Over the Hydrophones

Monday, December 14th
...not only was it nice to have a night without those massive winds, it made it possible to hear, at first, some extremely faint sounds...that was at about 3:40 a.m.
...it took until after 5:00 a.m. to be able to tell it was Transients...
...that was over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...no telling where they actually were because the calls were too intermittent and too faint...
...but then they began over the Orca Sound hydrophones...
video

...the calls faded off as opposed to stopping abruptly...did they go behind one of the Canadian islands?...hummmmm...will they show up again in the daylight or over one of the hydrophones...I hope!
...oh, I just heard them again (7:12 a.m.)...way distant and very faint...just a couple calls...


...the Ts showed up at the perfect time for me...I'm reading the book Into Great Silence, by Eva Saulitis...'A memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas'...for me it's a wonderful account on many levels...and it takes you right there...last night I was reading a section about the Transients, she was studying, and their calls...
...so being awakened to Ts in the early morning...very nice...


...that book may also cause you to think about the Southern Residents and the issues they face...
...as far as where the Residents are???...last I heard that Ks and some Ls were heading west, but no Js were seen with them...that's another 'hummmmm'...could Js have been way up ahead?...or way behind?...or are they still up north or...or perhaps they came back down silently...

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

12-9-15 It's Been So Windy!

Wednesday, December 9th

...at 4:00 a.m. on December 8th a humpback whale woke me up...over the Orca Sound hydrophones...

~~~
This Saturday at Lime Kiln lighthouse are their annual festivities... 
With all the wind and storms...
Watch out for flying Christmas Wreaths!!
 




...in the interest of saving the whales by saving salmon and getting the four lower Snake River dams removed, here's a catchy little poem...

The phone number:
202 456-1111 Eastern Time, 
Monday through Friday 

Feel free to pass it along.

Monday, December 7, 2015

12-7-15 Were Those Pacific White Sided Dolphins?!

Monday, December 7th
...late morning, while just arriving in town, I hear that 'orca' - 1?, 10? how many? don't know...were seen near Sidney Island...well if it was the Residents who I think went up in the wee hours on 12-5, then I wanted to find out...U-turn and on my way back...
...just as I charge in the door I hear what sounds like 'chirping birds' on the Orca Sound hydrophones...but it lasted only a few seconds...hummm...
...scanning along the west side revealed nothing especially with the seas not so nice and the rain coming down...
...however, I was now recording...later on I looked and there on the Lime Kiln hydrophones were 4 additional times of those 'chirping birds' sounds!...I was quite surprised...so they were there between 11:30 on Orca Sound and the last over Lime Kiln at 1:45, each time for only a few seconds...

...It sounds like it was LAGS - Pacific White sided dolphins...which would be really neat...they have shown up here in December in the last few years...
...here's what I heard:
video
...maybe someone will spot them, that is when the seas decide to calm down, because right now it would be near impossible to tell Lags from white caps!

...winter hydrophones...excellent!
 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

12-5-15 FOUR Hours Over the Hydrophones!

Saturday - 00:04 - in the middle of the night...

...after having learned they were going west Friday afternoon...to be awakened by J pod calls and then K pod calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...the calls increasing in volume "they're coming up!"...well, that's music to my ears...
...then after a short while they started coming over the Orca Sound hydrophones and it sounded like they were continuing up Haro Strait...but I am still hearing J pod clearly over Lime Kiln...
video
...it is stormy, so instead of ship noise it is ocean noise...

...the whales are very faint over Orca Sound hydrophones (00:57 a.m.) and a bit louder over Lime Kiln...

...at this time of year, these are the encounters that are more common, especially with the stormy seas...

...oh, they are getting louder over Lime Kiln now...

~~~
  ...on Dec 2nd in the middle of the night I heard about 10 seconds of Transient calls over Lime Kiln...
...then on Dec 3rd at 9:30 pm I heard J pod calls over Lime Kiln, in the distance and could not tell a direction...then on Dec 4th in the afternoon, word came that J, K and L pod whales were in the vicinity of Race Rocks heading west...
..."okay, now I know where they were, it's back to dealing with the firewood,"
~~~

 ...so when they woke me up just a bit ago...well that was very unexpected...

...and now, 1:01...I can still hear J pod calls, they aren't as loud as they had been over Lime Kiln, but I'm not hearing any over Orca Sound (4 miles to the north)...
...hummm...did they change their direction and go down island?...they might have come around Discovery and headed up a bit and across and that's why they were heard only briefly and very faint over Orca Sound...
...now nothing over Orca Sound hydrophones and surprisingly a ship coming into range over Lime Kiln...I guess they are getting through before the really nasty day that's coming, or so the weather lady said...
...I still heard J pod, but much fainter over Lime Kiln until about 1:08...and nothing since then over either set of hydrophones...
...it makes me wonder about the previous time they had come back toward the island but it was not ever confirmed as to where they had gone and J pod was not seen until 10 days later...the day they were seen in San Juan Channel then Spieden Channel and some down past Lime Kiln...


...okay, now back to the present: ...it's now 1:32a.m. and that ship is really loud - it's passing Lime Kiln now...I can see its lights...LOL!...yep, that's the ship...

...2:05 a.m.  no telling which way the whales went..."good night"...

...NO WAIT ! - 2:20 a.m. they are on Orca Sound hydrophones now! and clearly!!...also on Lime Kiln but they are definitely going UP now!...and another ship...and the wind is starting...it's supposed to be a nasty day...
video
...and louder and on and on...it's almost 3:00 a.m. and I can't think of a better way to spend the middle of the night than listening to the whales...

...3:37 and I'm hearing them again on Orca Sound - louder and closer too - coming back down?...maybe?...well just a few it seemed...
...then by 3:58 a.m. the last of them drifted off the Orca Sound hydrophones...
...I'd say they went north!  ...and now it's good night...

...it's later now...11:26 a.m. and it is very nasty out there...here's my version:
...stay out of the way of falling tree branches too!  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

12-1-15 Wild and Crazy Calls

Tuesday, December 1st
...I thought about J pod this morning, but didn't know I would actually end up seeing some of them!...their whereabouts have not been known for about the last ten days...so when whales showed up coming up San Juan Channel this morning and one adult male was seen...hummm...well, that sounded like transients...
...so I was on my way to see who might be out there and not knowing anything except that I had to go and see, because that is what I do :)...
...I learn from Ivan, Western Prince, who had gotten out there to see just who was present - it was Group A and the K13s!
...they were on the far side of the channel...



...after leaving Spieden Channel they began coming down island...but only the K13s did I hear over the hydrophones and only the K13s did I see coming down island passing the lighthouse...
...when they did, there were some fascinating calls over the hydrophones...I stopped video tape so I could get ID images of who was going by...that's why this video clip is sort of strange...video/images/audio all together to help give you the idea of what the whales were doing...
video
...I have heard similar 'wild and crazy calls' just before porpoising...so this really got my attention...
...there were only a few people at the park...after all it is December and it was cold and very windy...after a while and no more sightings of anyone else coming down everyone left...
...no sooner do I get on to the next thing for the day..."whales in San Juan Channel" - yikes...off and running again...this time toward the bottom end of the island...oops!...they turned north...back up island...I actually made it before they got there but they were so extremely far away...there were a lot of birds flying above the whales...which will sometimes have one thinking it is Ts. Not this time.
...I learned from Ivan of the Western Prince that it was Group B whales!...very cool...so it seemed that all of the family groups were represented even if not all in the same location at the same time.

...so where will the K13s show up again next?...and will all of J pod be together next time we see them?
 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

11-22-15 The Hydrophones Are Great!

Sunday, November 22nd
...looking from the west side...a humpback going up island, late morning, about 2 miles off shore...
...a private boater coming down island about a quarter mile from shore...they stopped...Dall's porpoise proceeded to play around their boat (LOL) for close to a 1/2 hour...the folks just let the boat drift and the Dall's kept zooming all around...

...no killer whales did I see today...
...but last evening over the Port Townsend hydrophones at close to 8pm were the calls of K pod whales - sweet!...coming out of Puget Sound...
...I had heard there were some killer whales down there and by the description it sounded like some Residents, but I didn't have any idea as to who...this give confirmation as to at least some who were there...the calls lasted only about 10 minutes and there was a lot of ship (or maybe ferry) noise...


video

...then at about 4:15 a.m. this morning K pod calls again, only this time they were over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...they were more intermittent and more distant sounding but lasted closer to 45 minutes..

...I suspect they have headed back out...at least for today...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

11-21-15 Humpbacks Again

Saturday, November 21st
...out on Peregrine to go see...how many humpbacks?...it started out earlier in the day that there were several somewhere, possibly up to nine...
...not sure where they all went, but watching these two humpbacks might show just why it was such a challenge to find any of them this afternoon...

video

...it's two who have been up and down Haro Strait for at least the last week...BCY1057 and MMY0009 and have come here for multiple years...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

11-18-15 How About Eight Humpbacks!

Wednesday, November 18th
...day after the storms and calm water once again...out on Peregrine to see what we could see...Capt. Jim at the helm we head down the west side...and surprisingly we come upon...
...highly unusual...but this year there have been more sightings of California sea lions and a few times finding them hauled out in unusual places...

...changing directions we head up island...over the next one and a half hours we encounter 4 pairs...all within a few miles...and one single humpback off in the distance...




...the third pair we saw...
...here are these same two who were together on a sunny day - 11-15...

...the fourth pair...they only showed us their dorsal fins which isn't often much help...
...no image of the single humpback...

...that was definitely a bonanza of a humpback day!
...orcas?...well...no telling where the Residents will show up next...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

11-9-15 You Never Know what You Might See

Monday, November 9th
...yesterday was the Round the County Sailboat Race...always fun to see...with no wind I decided to get creative using the trees :)


...I was hoping to get a humpback in the mix...well one was in the mix, but I was so focused on who it was I missed getting the sailboats in the distance!

...while waiting for the boats to come down island a ways I was talking to a fella who was educating me about sailboats...
...he spotted this salamander...oh so tiny...a friend posted about this (not sure if the same species) just the day before and there were comments about it being toxic...hummmm...update:  this ia actually a rough-skinned newt and the only way it would be toxic is if you licked it...so no worries, except for maybe a doggie...
...this one was just about in hibernation/cold mode...we thought it was dead but moving it out of the path where it might get stepped on, it moved in slow motion...

...and my sailboat teaching friend is the one who first spotted the humpback!...glad he was there or I might have missed a lot :)

...in the middle of the night I was awakened by a humpback making many different sounds over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...


...today there was no word of whales...late in the afternoon I could see Peregrine coming up the strait...I grabbed my binos to see what they were up to...and instead I saw a group of porpoise, but not Dall's because these animals were bringing their bodies completely above the surface...I thought they might be Pacific white sided dolphins...NOT...I found out later that it was a group of harbor seals!..really!...the whales might have been coming across and the seals were...well...you know why...and at some point in all this there were a couple very faint calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...

...it wasn't until about a half hour later and after much running here and there and back home again I just decided to look and wait - no wait necessary - there was an orca! Yikes!...and then more...

...T49A1 was present - most likely the rest of the family too, and it looked like the some of the T36As...oops!  I was wrong about it being the T36As...check out the Center for Whale Research's Encounter #97...it's a great video of those whales who went by...
...maybe T49A3 and ?

...and maybe a few others...its was a nice size group...

...only a few images...they were moving quickly!


Friday, November 6, 2015

11-6-15 Predictions- Nasty Weather and No Whales-HA!

Friday, November 6th
...the weather prediction was for strong winds...
...the prediction was we would most likely not see orcas...
...almost guaranteed prediction: we would not see Southern Residents... 

...out on Peregrine with Capt. Jim at the helm, we leave the harbor...it's not flat calm and the seas were beginning to build...uh, oh...Kelp Reef was very choppy...things were not looking good...
...we went north looking for a humpback blow...off in the distance a humpback surfaced about three times and then went down for a long dive...
...we get word that three killer whales were seen and a humpback...we go looking and along the way try to figure out how far those whales, if there actually were some, would have traveled up island by now...
...Capt. Jim says we head back down...just outside of Snug Harbor, where we had departed from a while ago...a humpback!...


...moments later, a short distance farther down an orca!...then two...first I ID Slick J-16 and then Mike J-26...
...and farther behind them was the rest of the family...
...big sister, Alki J-36 and her offspring, Sonic J-52 were present too...and we stayed with this group...of course...little kids, who doesn't love to see baby killer whales?!!...the little ones were definitely into play mode...

..most of my images of Sonic J-52 in the morning were of Sonic and Echo...but here is one of first time mom and calf...
...and the back to Sonic and Echo...

...we moved up island to see Mike and Slick...the seas were flat calm too...
...Mike was on his back, showing off his private parts and Slick breached a couple times...Mike rolled on to his side...



...a short while later, off in the distance Mike surfaces with his chin up and his mouth open...it appeared he might have a fish in his mouth...

...lousy picture, showed up better on the camera...there is something sticking out of the left side of his mouth...I can't be sure but his behavior and the birds afterward led me to think...

...often when a whale gets a fish they will be under the surface for a few minutes...when they surface again they usually move along...today Mike slipped back down under and surfacing moments later, he immediately began to travel, with purpose, toward his three sisters, Echo, Alki, and baby Scarlet, and his nephew, Sonic J-52...when he was in the vicinity of them gulls began to show up which is sometimes an indicator of fish scraps...
...the group of four came together and Mike continued on...whether he shared a fish with them or not, I can't tell, but it made me wonder...they do share food...
...it was time for us to go back to the harbor...


...about 45 minutes later when we came back out the whales had basically not gone anywhere...
...but Alki J-36 and her almost 8 month old, Sonic J-52, were heading in the opposite direction from the rest of the family...
...at one point they seemed to be a mile away...yet we knew they were in communication with each other...
...there was an approaching container ship, loaded, and Alki with Sonic kept going into the shipping lane...
...just before the ship got to them Alki surfaced and turned directly toward the ship.  Huh?!?...she must have been teaching Sonic something...whether about the noise of the ship and how to deal with it, the water changes when a big ship passes, what to stay out of the way of, or maybe how to surf the wake of a freighter...or other things a mother orca will teach her offspring that we humans don't have a clue about...
...the ship went on by, she was on the near side of the ship when she went down...several minutes later they surfaced again still moving to the south... 
...over to the rest of the family...
...Echo J-42 was in charge of, Scarlet J-50...

...they were nearer to Slick J-16...Mike J-26 was off doing his own thing...
...all six of them were in the same up/down line in Haro Strait as opposed to being on one side of the strait or the other, if that makes any sense...
...oh, and another humpback...
...we knew that Alki and Sonic were heading back up and I was hoping to get one image of the four of them back together... 
...we left them and headed over toward Battleship Island to see if there were any harbor seals... there were and in addition to the harbor seals was a LION!
Yes!...a few years ago a nine year old girl on the boat saw the lion...
hint:  profile of a male lion - amazing...today the passengers saw the lion too!
...it has to be the right angle and with the grey skies it really showed well... 

...I snapped a pic of Lime Kiln lighthouse in the distance...
...not that late in the day but the beacon was on...and another image of snow on the Olympic mountains...not much but after a season of no snow (very unusual)...
...then Dall's porpoise showed up on our way to or from Kelp Reef to see the Steller sea lions...then we headed to the harbor...only to have me knock on the cabin door to let them know there was another humpback out there!

...almost in and a bald eagle took flight from the rock pile at the harbor entrance...


...it's November 6th - what a day! 

...and as I was going through images of the day, the J16s came over the Orca Sound hydrophones...that was at about 6:00pm and again after 10:00 pm