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Thursday, April 30, 2015

4-30-15 Octopus, Humpback, Killer Whales

Thursday, April 30th
...it was not nice water, but out with Capt. Jim we went...there had been no sightings of any whales of any type so far this morning...
...oh, but we came upon a harbor seal...eating an octopus!
...then we headed north to look for the two humpbacks that eluded everyone the day before...the seas were nastier up here, so when Capt. Jim spotted the blow of a humpback, and with the wind and choppy seas - what a find!...MMY0006 aka Windy was the one I saw, so I imagine BCY0324 Big Mama was there as well...somewhere in those breaking white caps!
...then we get a call..."killer whales"...and off we went...and adding to the choppy seas were the whales so very close to shore...
...it was the T65As, a family of 5, and the T65Bs a family of 2..two sisters and their kids...they have been around a lot lately...the T75Bs had been with them, but they split off and are somewhere else...wherever that might be...
...that tail belongs to a female...it's straight across...
...T65A2 - and his FIRST notch...I imagine he may get more!
...once the tail action began, it just kept on and on...
...one of the little guys, either T65A4 or T65A5 breached a few times, giving the folks from Pennsylvania a thrill!
...we heard that J Pod was on their way in...oh, goodie...except that I haven't heard any of those burp (fish sounds) at all lately...(I've been tracking a certain sound that has preceded the presence of J pod over 90% of the time this past winter).
I heard some J pod calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones at about 7:30 tonight...they were very far off and sounded more like they were heading due east and not toward the west side of the island...at least not just yet...okay, time to set the alarm for zero-dark-thirty-a.m. ...it's getting to be that time of the year...it will be up and out the door really early, just in case...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

4-26-15 Two Humpbacks Have Now Returned

Sunday, April 26th
...J Pod...I think they have gone back out...but not too sure...the last few days they were seen the seas were pretty wild on some...only glimpses of the whales on others...
...I heard that the J17s were back with them and the J16s hadn't split off again just yet...can't wait to see where they show up next...my guess is they will be coming in from the west...
...yesterday, Saturday, Big Mama, BCY0324, was around again...she had been here and then gone for a while...while on Maya's Westside Charters we were watching her...she was getting surface active...and raised her tail right when a sailboat was in the distance behind her...nice!
...that sail boat is All Aboard Sailing Charters with Captain David Howitt!...he sometimes drives for Capt. Jim...

...so today, Sunday the 26th...boats were going to look for Big Mama...would there be a fourth day in a row???...thanks to Capt. Ivan of the Western Prince - Yes!
...and today there was someone with her...who was that other whale?...
when I saw those white marks on her dorsal fin I immediately thought of 'the friendly'...that's her!...the same one who mugged us back in November 2013...now that was a once in a lifetime experience...
...she is the whale known as MMY0006, a temporary ID assigned to her until a permanent one can be...(I didn't assign it...you can see it on the most recent HB ID guide for this area, put out by the Center for Whale Research last year)
...since I take so many pictures I was able to ID this whale based on things other than the underside of the tail flukes...and Yes! It is the friendly who is also known as MMY0006!...who is also known as Windy...
 ...click to enlarge these images for a closer look...this is the outer edge of the right tail fluke...



...I compared today's images of MMY0006 to last year and to the 'Friendly' encounter in November 2013 - the dorsal fin, scars this whale has, and luckily two partial tail fluke images and they all are matches...
...in addition...Big Mama has a big lump on the top of her right fluke - it is easily seen from a great distance...MMY0006 has two small lumps on the top of his/her left fluke...fun stuff...

...Mt. Baker was being very pretty today and look what happened...
...now for a closer look at the whale...
....I don't know which whale it was who breached but his/her timing was just right for my camera! - Thanks!...MMY0006 is the second whale to show up in these local waters this season...I wonder what type of small fish they are eating?...
...whatever it is just leave the salmon alone please!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

4-21-15 Where Are the J17s?

Monday/Tuesday, April 20/21
...Monday there were whales at the opposite end and side of the San Juan Islands...so we headed up and over the top and down San Juan Channel, hoping to meet the whales if they were coming west...
...Transients had been located in that vicinity in the morning and J Pod was spotted coming down Rosario Strait...we were heading for J Pod...Capt. Jim gets a call that there are whales just outside of Snug Harbor, and we were half way between both places...we elected to go to J Pod...the others were transients and no one was with them...
...as we arrived on scene, the whales, who had been foraging (yay!) were grouped up into two groups and heading west - coming toward us...
Granny J-2 and her group of Onyx L-87, the J19s, and the J14s, along with the J22s and the J11s...


...a few minutes later the J16s, the family group with the two babies, were grouped up, following behind Granny's group...

...the J16s barely passed us when on their next surfacing they had change direction and were now heading east...it looked as if maybe they were breaking off from the other group...
...but on the next surfacing both groups surfaced together...
...the J17s, a family with three adults and three juveniles between the ages of five and six, were not present...
 ...the seas were calm and the lighting was good for seeing blows...but no blows were seen...when we left, the whales were heading up Rosario Strait and they were going with a strong flood tide...
...it was curious as to where the J17s were...most likely just out of our sight...
...when we left the whales we headed west and then up the west side of San Juan Island where we met up with those transients who had been spotted earlier in the afternoon...lucky us...
...what looked like a notch when I first saw this calf  is looking more like it's part of the 'crinkly' base of the fin...that is normal for babies...after all their dorsal fin is folded over and straightens up within their first 24 hours... 
...T65A3 has a faint open saddle patch on both sides...this is not common with Transients...
...sometimes shadows show up in interesting places...
...today they were moving slowly, reminded me of the Residents...and this group was going down island...we then continued on our way up island...


...by the time we returned to the harbor we had circumnavigated San Juan Island!
 
...today, Tuesday, was much different from Monday...whales in San Juan Channel...no matter where I went there was no place to see them from shore...home to work...mid afternoon with very rough seas...whales aproaching Lime Kiln...off to the park and miss them!...back up island but so difficult to even see them...J Pod was going up with the current...
...I was able to catch a few of them from a porch up island...

...this wasn't the day to see if the J17s were with the rest of J pod...maybe someone saw one of them...but with the rough seas even that might have been a challenge...
...this April has continued to be out of the ordinary when comparing it to month of April over the last 10 years...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

4-19-15 A Marathon Whale Day at the Park

Sunday, April 19th
...it seems more like May than April, not because of the weather, but because of J pod showing up so often...
...back to Saturday evening...it was around 9 pm when I heard the 'burp'- fish sounds -...I haven't heard any in several days...then at about 11 pm I heard another...and there were more at about 3:30 a.m...link here to see what I have been tracking...when I first wrote about it...
...so why was I surprised when J pod woke me up at 6 a.m over the Lime Kiln hydrophones this morning?...interesting too is on this audio clip of echolocation clicks - sounds more like tapping hammers - there are two of those burp sounds toward the end...

...Alki J-36 and baby J-52...
...someone breaching in the early morning (6:40 a.m.) as the whales came down island...
...I had expected the whales to be going up island, but instead they were coming down island...well, Slick J-16 looks like she is going up island but she is just facing that way and the current is carrying her down island...
...they didn't get too far down when they turned and began to come back up, against a very strong current...in fact it took them hours...
...waiting...waiting...closer...closer...
...the Center for Whale Research in the April 15th encounter write up, stated that Eclipse J-41 is actually the mother of J-51...I was on the Center's boat with Dave the day we discovered this calf, traveling tight between Shachi J-19 and Eclipse J-41...it didn't seem likely that Eclipse, being so young, would have a calf at this age...Eclipse was just over 8 years old when she got pregnant...she won't be 10 years old until June30/July1st of 2015...
...today Eclipse J-41 and baby J-51 were in the lead as the whales made it back up to the park this morning...
...it was a mixed up kind of pass by...between 10:00 and 11:15 Moby J-44 and Princess Angeline J-17 passed by the lighthouse three times!...once off shore...once close along the rocks...and the last time a bit off during what appeared to be cooperative foraging...maybe it was that salmon in the near vicinity...
...the whales were spread very far, making it easier to figure out which ones were doing the vocalizing...and when they did so right off the lighthouse, it helped even more to watch what could be seen from the surface...

...one fellow kept saying "there's one" and I'd reply with "that whale passed by here 15 minutes ago"...if one didn't know which whales they were looking at they might have thought they saw 40 or more whales!
...one of Princess Angeline's many passes by the lighthouse today...

...in the middle of it all...
...then T'ilem I'nges started breaching...
...I find this interesting...Oreo J-22, DoubleStuf J-34, and Cookie J-38, since December, have been seen traveling with Granny quite often...wonder what's going on there?...and today behind J-22, J-34 and J-2 were Cookie J-38 and Se-Yi-Chn J-45...J-45 is one of Granny's more direct family members...these two boys were goofing around as they came past the lighthouse not far behind the other three...these five whales were the trailing group...
...and as they were approaching close to shore, just up ahead, off shore, J-49 began breaching again...causing a dilemma for those who were taking pictures - which way to look???
...looking back at the recording the calls actually began at about 5:30 a.m.,woke me up at 6:a.m. and I didn't leave Lime Kiln until after the last whale had gone north...12:25 pm...

...someone asked why the whales were so spread out and if they did that often...answer: lack of food - lack of Chinook salmon
...have you heard or read about the four lower Snake River dams?  click on the link to read about the Southern Resident Killer Whale Salmon Initiative and consider signing the petition and get others to sign it too.  That is not the answer for immediate food for the whales, but it is a start to make sure they have it in the future.  It's important for the survival of this community of orcas.
Did you see them today or at anytime?  Were you touched by their presence?  Make sure they are around for future generations of humans and whales.

Live in Puget Sound?

Participate with Whale Scout as they team up with PenMet Parks for a beach cleanup and restoration event as part of Parks Appreciation Day. This area is occasionally traveled by Southern Resident orcas and is a favorite for whale watchers! Enjoy being outdoors on the water with friends and fellow orca lovers while making the south Sound a healthier place for killer whales...  link here to learn more about Whale Scout


Friday, April 17, 2015

4-17-15 Transients All Throughout the Day

Friday, April 17th
...3:30 in the morning Transient calls, over the Lime Kiln hydrophones, wake me up...they lasted for close to an hour...since it was dark there was no way of knowing who or what way...so when they were located mid morning, it sounded like it would be another whale day...oops...just before we left the dock we learned that 'they lost them'! - oh, no!...searching, searching, everyone was searching, but with no big tall dorsal fins, and with other than calm seas it wasn't going to be easy...but finally someone did...and of course they were in the area where the seas were...well, let's just say - different...

...the T65As, T65Bs, T75B and her new calf T75B2, and T75C were in the area again...the seas were unusual...not rough, not big swells, but maybe some cross currents making for unusual bouncing around...the whales were having a great time...they were doing their own kind of bouncing around...
...and all that bouncing around made picture taking a challenge!
...here are some fun ones from the encounter on Maya's Westside Charters...
...an unusual angle...
...can you figure this one out?...
...this will give a clue...
...and then I had to include one of the new calf...
...check my posts from 4-13 and 4-16 for the two other encounters with this group...
...late in the day I get a call from Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research telling me of a large group of Transients heading across Haro Strait...I said I would look from shore to try to spot them for him as he went to the boat...well, I must say that was just too much fun...I took some pictures of the whales, as you can see they were a good distance but Dave got to them!

...I wonder where they will show up tomorrow... 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

4-16-15 J Pod One Day Transients the Next

Wednesday, April 15th
...J pod came down the west side and reached the park at about 9:30 a.m.a few were somewhat close in...
...but most were spread out a half mile to two or three miles off shore...
...they continued down island, but instead of coming back up they met up with the J16s (I wasn't there but heard about it)...J pod back together...and they slowly headed west...

Thursday, April 16th
...late afternoon out on the Western Explorer, the zodiac boat, part of the Western Prince, to see the T65As, T65Bs, T75C, T75B and the new baby I had seen on Monday...



...the seas were so nice today...I like the two Rhinoceros auklets...


...as with Ts, we're always looking for carnage...we didn't see any late this afternoon...but earlier in the day they did...and after we left the scene one very lucky guy did!
...it's all about timing!

...but they did take something while we were there because T65A was doing some backwards swimming!