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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

9-30-15 In the True L12s Style

a recap...
...the whales who had gone north two days ago stayed north...
...the whales who had come up late in the day and back down again two days ago have not been seen since...
...but the L12s have been around...and yesterday they stayed down island all day long...I got in all my exercise for the week - from one overlook to a hike out to a point...oh, just missed them there...back up and to another point...got there and they had just turned back around...
...by late afternoon when they came up I could see Windsong L-121, Calypso's young calf, traveling with his mom and sister...so I knew the L12s were present...
...the L12s appeared to be spread three to four miles...

Wednesday, September 30th
and now to today...
...as the fog was moving up...I could hear the motors of boats but I couldn't see them...then just ahead of the fog, by not much, I heard a blow and saw one whale diving...and then the fog obliterated anymore of that...
...by the afternoon I went and checked...I had no idea where they might be...how lucky is that - dorsal fins coming up island...but would they make it to the park or turn around again...
...inching my way up island in the car, they kept coming and finally it was off to the park...if they made it up - great...if they didn't - that's okay too...
...and what they did next was really 'fun'...
...Mega L-41 and Ocean Sun L-25 were traveling out in front...they were not close to one another but not very far apart either...
...if you've been to Lime Kiln Pt. State Park, then you know 'the wall'...that's where I was...Ocean Sun surfaced quite a distance offshore and I figured Mega would too...NOT!
...he surfaced already in Deadman's Bay...startling these two people who were working on a puzzle...

...it was awesome!...he made a slow, meandering pass through the bay angling back down island...


...next comes the two moms and the three kids...one which is Windsong L-121...they were not in close but they were goofing around enough to keep the people watching...and offshore too was Mystery L-85, coming up behind them...
...that's when Solstice and Spirit entered from 'stage left,' surfacing right in front of a bunch of people and very close to shore...and none of us had seen them coming!...they kept on going and out of my view past the lighthouse...

...Mega had reappeared coming back up island...

...but he didn't go any further than the wall/entrance to that bay...he was moving so slowly, so very slowly, changing direction, and not going anywhere...and it ended up that he was waiting for Ocean Sun to join him...


...she was approaching...he turned...both were now under the surface and then they surfaced together slowly going back down island!
...the moms, kids and Mystery also turned...and slowly made their way back down island...

...someone asked if they had now all gone by...today I didn't have to listen for that special sound of an inhale that Ino L-54 makes (see 9/28 post)...today I only had to count...and no they hadn't all come back down...20 minutes later Spirit and Solstice came back down island...

...a total surprise for everyone...and so sorry for those folks who had stayed at the park during most of the fog and had to leave...probably about 30 minutes before the whales showed up because they had a cruise ship to get back on to!

9-30-15 Free the Snake Flotilla Information

Copied from the Southern Resident Killer Whale Salmon Initiative Group 

         This weekend! 

 Free the Snake Flotilla

Southern Resident Killer Whale Salmon Initiative
Sep 28, 2015 — Dear Supporters,

"The connection between Southern Resident Orcas and Snake River Chinook salmon is reaching an all time high. We are seeing more and more national media attention on the negative effects of the lower Snake River dams on Endangered species.

Meanwhile, we have been tracking the amount of public support there has been in regards to lower Snake River dam removal petitions and email campaigns. Overall, there are six of these totaling almost 200,000 supporters.

If you are in the area of Pullman, Washington this weekend (Oct 3) please attend the 'Free the Snake' flotilla. Find more information here: http://www.freethesnake.com/
This is will be a monumental gathering!


The bottom line remains–an Executive Order request to breach the dams is with Obama–the main thing we can do is to continue to call or write the Commander-in-chief to show him we support his decision on this issue (202-456-1111). We must also contact Washington State Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray as well as Governor Jay Inslee.

You can find more information on the above topics on our website http://srkwcsi.org/

Thanks again for your continued support! Please pass this information on to one other person today!"

Monday, September 28, 2015

9/27-28/15 That Inhale Was Her Proof of Presence

Tuesday, September 27th
...Cali K-34 was the leader...Granny and Onyx were next...then some K pod whales...all were a good distance from shore...it was mid day and the sun glare was horrible...those whales didn't get very far when they changed direction and came back down island...Granny was going up at 12:20 and came back down at 12:39...
...for the next couple hours the whales stayed offshore, down island from the park, and came back up for a while and went back down again...
...once again spread a good distance...
 

Monday, September 28th
...just like yesterday the whales were slowly coming in and by mid afternoon when the glare of the sun was really awful (ha!)...they came up passing the park...the seas were a bit choppy and the whales were not in close to shore...that's a recipe for 'just try to figure out who that is'...
...the Lime Kiln hydrophones came in very handy as the whales were being very vocal...
...the first calls I heard were mainly L pod calls, I was surprised...and when I looked at my horrible images, there was actually a picture of L-122!...the L47s appeared to be in the lead...

...behind them were Granny J-2 and Onyx L-87...and Cali K-34...others were miles from shore...Spock K-20 passed by...as well as others...lots of K and L pod calls but not many J pod calls...
...several minutes passed...and then I began hearing J pod calls...a group was a bit closer to shore...
...they were very vocal...
...and just behind them was a humpback whale...
...one of the orcas spyhopped looking back toward the others...then another spyhopped, and another, and another...as one person said , "it was like popcorn" and we all began translating what it meant:
"Did you see that big whale behind us?" "He's not one of us!"
" Who do you think he is?" and on and on...
...the whales continued going up island...today they did not turn back... ...about an hour later I saw a blow just south of the park...more whales?...okay!...I saw Racer L-72 (for sure) and I think, Fluke L-105...and I could see a male who looked like Wave Walker L-88 but I wasn't yet sure...then a mother and two offspring who fit the look of Ino L-54 and her kids...but they were even farther offshore...
...I only heard L pod calls...and I waited and waited hoping someone would give me a clue.
...just as the sun was setting (really!)...this small group began to come back down island...there were so many birds making so much noise I was so hoping they would quiet down...if they did and if it remained quiet I should be able to hear their blows...
...and if one of them is Ino L-54 I would hear her 'flute sound' when she inhales (she is the only whale in the community who sounds like this)...I mentioned it to the two people I was standing with...there was no one else around...
...the birds finally got quiet...
...the whales came...
...we listened...
...and Ino inhaled!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

9-26-15 Who is Making That Repetitive Call?

Saturday, September 26th
...look at this morning...the Residents had gone out yesterday or at least they were not seen by anyone...would they be gone a long time this time or come back in...those Ts - would they show up again...no time better than now to go look...
...and look at that water...too beautiful for there to not be whales...somewhere!
...fog was attempting to block that view...but it didn't last very long...when it cleared, serious scanning began...a few boats here and there and one tiny boat way in the distance...hummm...who might that be?..."just watch that boat." I thought...
...and it wasn't long before "was that a blow?"...it took a while but soon it all came together...you have to take every clue you can to see if it might just fit...and this time it did! - yes!  orca!

...a while later, at the park, there were some whales approaching...they were not moving very fast...and there was one I could hear over the hydrophones - a K pod whale...immediately I wondered if it was Cali...sure enough!
...what was more interesting is that Lea K-14, Lobo K-26, and Granny J-2 were the next whales to come along...


...they are not common in these waters...this one seems to call this his home now...at least for a while...
...fisherman turned whale watcher - yes!


...behind them and farther offshore were Scoter K-25 and his mom, Skagit K-13...and behind them a short distance were Rainshadow K-37 and his mom, Sequim K-12 - but where was her youngest, Saturna K-43?
...along came Deadhead K-27 and her offspring Ripple K-44...
...then no calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophones for a while...
...about a dozen whales had gone up island a few miles...

...33 minutes later a faint K pod call began over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...but no whale could be seen...one call, repeated over and over again...it gradually increased in volume as the whale got into the park and closer to the hydrophones...at one point I was beginning to wonder if it was something else because it changed to more/closer frequency and seemed to be at exact intervals (well, duh, they are orcas and can do that!) and almost continuous...
...of course it was a whale...the whale surfaced coming up island and was very close to shore...she made some of these repetitive calls as she was passing close to the hydrophones (they were loud) she surfaced enough times for an ID shot...and then she was down again with the repetitive call continuing...a private boat was approaching...her call was less repetitive and then stopped...the boat also had stopped...she surfaced again, continuing up island, after being down for close to two minutes...
(note to those who heard her calls while at Lime Kiln...found out later that the hydrophones streaming on-line had gone down, so we were very lucky to hear what we heard!)
...when they had gone up island Saturna K-43 was in close on the shoreline...her mother was close to a 1/2 mile offshore...
...ten minutes later the whales had turned and were coming back down island...
...Saturna was surfacing next to her mother - happy ending :)
...yes, it was another whale day in the San Juan Islands...from Humpback whales all over the place, to Minke whales, Dall's porpoise...and even an inquisitive fox looking for food in exchange for a photo...(please don't feed)
...and Surf Scoters...it was the lighting that made this interesting to me...
...and the new road to the south end of the island - WOW!...the view is even more stunning than before...I'll just need higher powered binoculars...

Friday, September 25, 2015

9-25-15 They Took Their Food With Them!

Friday, September 25th
...after the encounter with the T49As yesterday and then spotting them again this morning...I wondered if they would keep coming up island and go into the cove just north of the lighthouse for another meal like yesterday...
...they didn't...know why?...they already had their food with them - take out!
...the few images I took were quite distant...I only looked to see if I could ID who it was...and it was T49A1...up ahead of the rest of the family...
...I had no idea that he was 'up to something'...

...when they got to Lime Kiln mom, T49A was now up ahead...she angled toward the cove but didn't go in and instead moved back off to where T49A1 was approaching...still moving up island...
...I don't know when they stopped to eat their food, but T49A1 certainly had it with him...
...not the easiest to see...but it's there!

...no wonder the two younger ones were sticking close to him...
...there is a California sea lion, who appears to have taken up residency in this area...he better watch out!

......there was also a humpback whale, first spotted by a friend this morning...when she couldn't locate it again we went back down island a short distance...'well, there's a big dorsal fin'...but we were looking for a humpback!...near the Hannah Heights area...and the humpback surfaced closer to Pile Pt....they had most definitely passed one another...
...I have heard by several people who have seen this specific humpback, exclaim at how big it is and wonder if it might be something other than a humpback...
...and I heard it again today...but this is definitely a humpback and we tracked it all morning...it came back up island a little while after the transients had gone by and then the humpback came back down island again...

...this humpback has an unusual (to me) dorsal fin...if the dorsal fin was on a Minke whale or a young killer whale that would be one thing...
...look at how it is so different looking from the more common shapes usually seen in here...and how small the fin looks...maybe that's what makes this humpback look 'so big' to so many people or maybe it is just a really big HB.
...someone get out a tape measure please...

...no Residents seen today, but you most likely already figured that out...maybe tomorrow there will be some 'black and whites' in the area...whether they will be Ts or Rs remains to be seen...and I hope we get to find out...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

9-24-15 The Lighthouse Cove is a Popular Place

Thursday, September 24th
(definition:  the cove just up island from Lime Kiln lighthouse.  If it has a name I can't find it.)
...saw no whales early this morning...no word on the L pod whales from yesterday...so by 11:00 it was time to go scan again...within 30 seconds!...there were three dorsal fins coming up island - wow!


...there ended up being 4 whales, and they ended up being the T49As...I was just thinking that it was about time for them to show up...but I obviously didn't have them in my mind when I was looking at them... 
...at the moment...close to shore up island at the top end of Hannah beach area...11:55 a.m.
...then they began to move and move fast...run to car...'don't fall'...drive to next spot...can't see them...keep going...
...oh, no! Js and Ks coming down from up island and coming fast!
...forget the Ts...get to the park!
...made it...and there are the Ts just 'arriving' at the lighthouse!...
...from Hannah beach to the lighthouse in 20 minutes...it was now 12:15
...they went into the cove just north of the lighthouse!
...if you read yesterday's blog post L pod whales, dall's porpoise and a California sea lion were all in that same cove, but not at the same time...
...running around to the up side of the lighthouse...T49A1 spyhops...he has something draped over his right pec...


...no vocals on the Lime Kiln hydrophones at any time...until J pod whales were heard faintly!  'oops! time to move on'...for those Ts...they had stayed at the edge of the cove for 33 minutes - having something to eat...

...22 minutes after they left, Mike J-26 was crossing the cove by Lime Kiln...
...then came the rest of his family...in very close to shore...
...as they were passing in front of us, up pops a Steller sea lion...
...for the next one and a half hours whales passed by...no one else as close as Mike and his family, but some were in close enough...others were miles from shore...



...yes, down island and who knows which way next...and those 19 L pod whales?...today was their day to go unseen... 

note:  a friend was riding his bike along the west side at about 7:30 this morning and saw four whales going up island...he saw them in passing and didn't follow them...it might have been the T49As that could have turned around and then came back up 3 1/2 hours later...or might there have been others?...we will never know the answer to that one!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

9-23-15 An Interesting Morning With Nugget and Family

Wednesday, September 23rd
...the L pod whales of yesterday are now the L pod whales of today...
...mid morning they began to come up island...and what some of them did was quite interesting...
...on shore at Lime Kiln Pt. State Park...I could see the whales as they were slowly making their way up island...as the leaders got into the park two of them began porpoising...at first it looked like they would continue up island, but instead, before the lighthouse they angled in toward shore and others began to join in too...Kasatka L-82...
...and her mother, Nugget L-55...

...they were heading for the cove north of the lighthouse...and porpoising their way in!...what?...were they going to have breakfast on the beach?...I hoped not...it was 10:19 a.m....
...at 10:23 Kasatka and Finn L-116 were exiting the cove...they were coming straight out but not angling up island like her sisters and brother were...
...at 10:26 those sisters and brother - Lapis L-103, Jade L-118, and Takoda L-109 were a good distance off shore and heading up island...other whales were out there as well...Crewser L-92, Nigel L-95, Racer L-72, Fluke L-105, Marina L-47, Moonlight L-83, etc...

...at 10:26 Nugget also exited the cove and came south along the shore line, toward the lighthouse...it was there that she spent 6 minutes and 43 seconds (based on image time stamps- the video was taken during the middle of the event) but it felt like about 10 minutes, going back and forth right in front of us...
...it seemed like she was waiting...

...at 10:32 Nugget became directional and was heading down island...
...NOTE:  there was absolute quiet over the Lime Kiln hydrophones during that time...no echolocating and no calls at all...
 
...at 10:35 Kasatka L-82 and Finn L-116 surfaced just north of the lighthouse and were slowly heading down island...And Then...they disappeared!

...that is until 11:10 when they showed up again, a half mile north of the lighthouse a good distance from shore and Nugget L-55 and three of her offspring - Lapis L-103, Takoda L-109, and Jade L-118 were coming down, but Kasatka L-82 and Finn L-116 were not with them...
...at 11:30 some high speed Dall's porpoise were coming up island, right past us, and where did they go?...into the cove!

...at 11:35 Nugget and those three offspring who all went down island at 11:10, came back up island, off shore again...

...I wonder what was going on with them...later in the afternoon Kasatka was seen with Muncher L-91 and the newest L pod baby, L-122... they were in the lead going down island...and Finn and all the rest were spread out behind them...somewhere...
...okay, since we all love the babies...and since this baby has been pretty far from shore...here are a couple:  "Find the Baby" pics...just for fun...

...and then...
 ...with Ophelia missing (stated by the Center for Whale Research) it seems that Kasatka is taking over that role...Ophelia would have been right in there helping with the baby - I would imagine...seen her do it in the past more than once...


...J and K pods were, once again, not seen today...wonder just how far north they went?...maybe there is more salmon coming down from the north than coming in from the west...Granny J-2 knows...


...oh, and did I mention there was a California sea lion off the lighthouse from late morning, for hours, just moving back and forth along the kelp line and in and out of the cove!...that is not common for this area...some folks at the park today sort of yawned when I said California sea lion, you see they are from California...but for us, well we usually see harbor seals along here...so I wonder if that will change with a sea lion 'taking up' residence in someone else' spot.