Thursday, June 21, 2018

6-21-18 Orcas Chasing Salmon - A Good Sight to See

Thursday, June 21st
...by the end of yesterday J Pod, Onyx L-87 and Crewser's Group had all gone north...

....Crewser's Group?  Yes.  I decided to call the group of the four families who travel together, Crewser's Group to honor L-92.  I know at some point that might change, but for now, it seems fitting...more on that later...

...this morning J Pod and Onyx were spotted coming down Boundary Pass and into Haro Strait...
...when the whales were getting a bit closer, but still to the north and out of view...we were watching for them...then there were these 'all-of-a-sudden' moments!
...whales appeared, in the park, close to shore, going up-island...who were they???...Ts!...they went passed going north...it looked as if they were sort of angling offshore a bit (not unusual)...by then then were way in the distance...


...knowing that J Pod was coming down, attention was turned to looking for them...but nothing...yet...10 minutes pass...and all-of-a-sudden! whales surface directly in front of the lighthouse, on the edge of the kelp...it was those Ts!

...they were the T49As...T49A and her four youngest - T49A2,3,4 and 5...T49A1 has dispersed from the family, at least for a while...and T49A2 who has rarely been seen with his family over the last several years, and instead seen traveling with others, was present with his family today...
...the most stunning part of this is that the T49As had not surfaced for 10 minutes and they were heading away from the Residents at a fast pace - wild! 
I would guess that they heard J Pod, causing them to depart-at-speed!  The Ts have had these waters pretty much to themselves lately with no SRKWs in here and maybe they were surprised to hear the whales, with whom they do not associate...

J Pod traveled at their normal pace...the seas were rough, heard that in places there were six foot swells and more, making it challenging to spot the whales...and they were chasing salmon as they came down...

...by the late afternoon, some J Pod whales came up to the lighthouse and then turned and went back down island, where many had stopped just south of the park...


...several of us were glad to have had the brief encounter with the the few whales that we did...the J16s...the day before Scarlet J-50 seemed like she was either lethargic or 'pouting'...she was traveling well behind her sister Echo J-42 and Slick J-16, their mother...knowing that Scarlet is not looking good (from Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research, stated in an article), made it that more concerning...
...so today's encounter was hopeful, when all five of the J16s were together with Scarlet traveling with her mother...I know this is human interpretation based on visual and we don't really know what is going on, so can really only watch and hope that her health state will improve.

...Crewser's Group was encountered later in the morning when some whale watching boats were with another Transient group, the T65As, they 'stumbled upon Creswer's Group...heard from a captain that the T65As were also heading in the direction of the L Pod whales and it appeared that they too changed direction and departed the area quickly...we know this happens but both of these abrupt type of departures we haven't seen occur in recent years...

Crewser's Group continued on and traveled down San Juan Channel, passing the entrance to Friday Harbor and later exiting Cattle Pass in the afternoon...at the same time J Pod was on the west side as mentioned above...

...by the end of the day, it sure felt like these last couple days are like 'how it used to be'...whales all day long...but are they getting enough to eat?...they were definitely chasing salmon...always exciting to see that...but at the same time they were very spread out, which often indicates a scarcity of salmon...

...the posting date says 6-21, however, I am writing this post on Friday, June 22nd...the SRKWs have gone back out toward the open ocean today...and today the Albion test fishery had another count of 4 Chinook salmon.  
...I know that is nothing, but it has been either 0 or 1...so 4 seems 'great' in comparison...we'll have to wait to see if the whales will return in a couple days like they did earlier in the month when 4 Chinook were the count for the day...or if those four Chinook are the last of the incoming 'ones who got away'...


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

6-20-18 Js and Ls All Day Long

Wednesday, June 20th
First a note: Going from zero sightings of the SRKWs to non-stop, sometimes taking 2,000 images in a day, well, it was overload.  In addition it was troubling that Crewser L-92 was not in any of my images on that first day, because even from miles offshore he was easily identified. Then word came from the Center for Whale Research that he had died.  I couldn't post anymore, at least for a while.

So here's a recap until I can get my blog posts caught up:  J Pod and many L Pod whales returned on June11th...J Pod having been gone an unusually long time, 2 months and 2 days, and L Pod making their first appearance for this season which is not unusual for this time of year.  Some were here for several days, leaving for the open ocean on the 16th.  On the 19th they were seen closer, near Sooke, foraging and then headed west in the afternoon.  So when they showed up today, June 20th, off Hein Bank, well that was a surprise.


Today: It was late morning when J Pod was encountered offshore from the south end of the island...they made their way up to Lime Kiln lighthouse starting at about noon...and it lasted until 6:30pm.- no joke.  Yes, there were a few lulls, but they didn't last long...
Shachi J-19, Hy'Shqa J-37, and T'ilem I'nges J-49 went by first...they were foraging to the north of the park...then along came Eclipse J-41 and Nova J-51...way offshore was Onyx L-87...they continued on their way, but we wondered if they would turn and come back down (they didn't).
...next to come along were some L Pod whales!...word was that it was J Pod, but Crewer's group was still with J Pod...
...when going through images it came to the forefront that it was Group A (most of them) who had gone north,  the J16s in the middle of the hours-long spread, and Group B who had stayed south with the L Pod whales - WOW!  Didn't think I would see them split like that again...at least for the day...

from today June 20th: some images you'll see them going left-to-right and others right-to-left...that's what they did all day long, except for the lead group who kept on going north...by the end of the day they had all gone north...












...3:30pm
 ...6:30pm
...will catch up on previous days...at some point...


 

Friday, June 15, 2018

6-15-18 J Pod and the West Side

They came in on the 11th with some L pod whales and Js have stayed.  
No time to post daily, so here's a recap of just yesterday, Friday the 15th:


...one of their returns down island...
...this is only a recap of one day of these last several days that they have been along the west side.
...just hoping there is enough food and when they run out at this spot that there will be another for them to go to.

Monday, June 11, 2018

6-11-18 Southern Residents Return

Monday, June 11th

...everyone was surprised when J Pod and many L Pod whales showed up in the early morning...it had been a long time since they were in the inland waters...
...a few came up island at about 7 a.m. to Lime Kiln and then turned and went back down island...then at 8:40 the whales started to come up again...only to turn and go back down island again!





...then at about 10:15 they came up, Shachi J-19 in the lead(not shown on this clip)...they were spread out, close to shore and moved north passing the park...

...there is much more to the day...this was only the beginning... will add to this post until I get the day completed...

 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

6-5-18 Transient Orcas What They Sometimes Do

June 2nd and 5th
There have been transients all over but not many seen from the shore on the west side...
...with the price of gasoline these days I decided to not try to catch up to them from land at other locations and just stay along the west side - :)

...one day there was a lone male far out...always interesting to watch anyway...
...on June 5th, sun-glaring afternoon but a bit closer...this group was steadily traveling up the west side, that is until a harbor porpoise got their attention...they did what they did and never made it to Lime Kiln...instead going back down island and offshore...but not until they had a snack!



 ...whenever they will do this there are usually exclamations of amazement...

...no telling what my camera might capture tomorrow...

Saturday, June 2, 2018

6-2-18 They Evoked Feelings of Nostalgia

Saturday, June 2nd
...it was early in the morning, Haro Strait, a note from a friend that whales were coming my way...
...I waited...it wasn't long before they appeared from down island...

...seeing them, in their manner of travel, and watching from where I was, brought feelings of nostaligia...
...the video is shaky, the whales were not close...
...the nostalgia is of what used to be and who they 'should' have been...

...enjoy the moments and these transients slowly moving on by...


...seeing this type of travel up Haro Strait, in the early morning, was always special and not uncommon for the Southern Residents...but that was then...
 

Friday, June 1, 2018

6-1-18 Different Groups of Transients in Different Areas

Friday, June 1st
...whales in the early morning on the other side of the island going up...had to go see if I could find them...

...in addition to the T101s, the T86As and the T124A2s were with them...the same group that passed by the lighthouse in the late afternoon yesterday...
...it wasn't long before other groups of Transients were spotted in several different locations...and having an invite to get out on a boat...well, I couldn't resist...out on the Western Explorer II we headed south to where there were two different groups...
...one group was the T65As...

...unusual image...
...reminds me...
...there was an additional whale with the T65As...
...T49A2's mother and siblings were several miles away and T29A2 had been in Puget Sound with the T65As...so it will be interesting to see if they meet up somewhere along the way...
...we then headed over to the T49As who were off of Lopez Island...

...her oldest T49A1 was off to himself, while mom and the other three were in closer to shore...
...and then there was a harbor seal...looked like it was 'with' them instead of about to be 'lunch'...
...as soon as they began getting serious about 'lunch', T49A1, who had been offshore, came in quickly...

...later in the day the T65As and T65A2 were way to the south and the T49As were in Rosario Strait heading up...
...two very different directions...
 
 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

5-31-18 A Happy Accident

Wednesday and Thursday, 5/30-31
Wednesday:
...hearing several Transient calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones in the early morning...but not too early...this time I thought I might be able to find them.
...it took about 1 1/2 hours and giving up the search, walking to my car when something caught my eye...oh, my...miles from shore - an adult male orca!
...doesn't matter how many times, it is always fun when you find one, especially when this one was at least 4 miles offshore...way too far to get any photos.
...there was another with this one...they evidently had come up Haro Strait and made it as far up as Baynes Channel, or almost to Baynes...looked like they found a meal, from that lunging and splashing I could see, and then turned around and went back out...
...I later learned it was T117 and T172...I haven't ever seen T117 before but I have seen T172...she is a great example of the phrase, "Transient orcas never die." That's because you just never know when they might show up again.  T172 is a great example, at least for this area...she hadn't been seen since 2012 and then showed up briefly, last year and now this year.
...as I was about to get into my car and was putting my cell phone in my pocket I heard a strange noise...wondering what button I had pushed on my phone, I looked and saw that I had taken a burst of images...
...what was that behind my head?  I looked up - wow!
...that evening on the CTV News they were talking about the sun halos (some called it a sun dog) totally a surprise...

...had I not been looking for those whales, had I not found them, I would likely have not seen the 'happy accident' above my head! 

Thursday
...there were other Transients that were spotted to the north...slowly making their way toward the west side...it turned out to be a day of 'will they or won't they' because they kept changing direction...
...it was the T86As (minus T86A1), T101s, and T124A2s...

...this was not a 'happy accident' but a 'happy moment' :)

...after the whales had passed by, quite close to the lighthouse, there were a couple groupings of gulls and they were doing what they normally do when on top of a bait ball...
...when I looked at my images I wondered what the heck they were eating...looked more like spider legs to me...I sent the image off and got a reply that they were sandlance...so it was on to learning more about them...
...I know there are sandlance in these waters, I've just not ever seen gulls eating them before in this area, but am more used to seeing them eating what you can actually see is a bait fish...
...for the last fourteen years I was watching the Southern Residents...my days were full of encounters or waiting for them or going on a boat to see them...
...now it is different...
...not sure how long it will stay this way, but as long as they are finding food somewhere else that's okay with me...
...as long as the powers-that-be start taking immediate action to restore this ecosystem...

...in the meantime I will continue to listen, to watch for, and wait for the SRKWs and while I wait I hope more 'happy accidents' will come my way.