Saturday, July 27, 2019

7-27-19 SRKWs and Transients Comparison Practice

Saturday, July 27
...this is a re-post...updated a bit...

...many people have asked, "how do you tell the difference between an SRKW (Southern Resident Killer Whale) and a Transient?"

...one of the people who asked this question and who caused me to get a bit creative is a gentleman who lives on a nearby island and has had, in the last few years, many killer whales pass by where he lives...
..he had come into the lighthouse and was asking questions and taking notes on what to look for and he was using post-its...so I called him Mr. Post-Its - (I'm terrible at remembering names, that is unless it's an orca's name.)

...well, Mr. Post-Its told me that when he was younger he wanted to be a marine biologist but his life took a different turn and added that it has been all good...so, I suggested that now was his time to use some of his training from years ago and be that marine biologist, right from his front window...
...so for Mr. Post-Its and anyone wanting to see some of the differences, here's a general comparison sheet to help you get started...or as a refresher...
...and now here are some practice whales for you...
...these are only a sampling...but might give you an idea of some of the general differences you might see...











...the answers...you'll figure them out...sometimes you have to look for those 'tiny things' that will reveal - Transient or Resident?



Some have asked for the answers:
#  1 R
#  2 T
#  3 R
#  4 T
#  5 T
#  6 R
#  7 T
#  8 R
#  9 R
#10 R
#11 T
...fun stuff! 

Added:  Below are Southern Residents. Some individuals have a kink or twist to their dorsal fin that can sometimes help in identification or add confusion as to who one is looking at. 
How their fin tip looks from one side is the opposite of how the fin tip looks from the other side. One of the 7 images in the set is going the opposite direction as the others.
A few examples:
Some can look very different depending on the angle.
 
Each orca is an individual, not only in their dorsal fin shape, saddle patch markings, eye patch markings, nicks/notches or scratches, they are each individual in their personalities.

Monday, July 22, 2019

7-22-19 SRKWs - Catching Up from 7-6 to 7-22

July 6 - July 21
...during the night of July 5, J Pod, Onyx L-87, and K Pod went north...someone took some early morning footage of the whales in Active Pass...it was beautiful and peaceful...
...it was about five hours later when the whales were approaching East Pt...a location in the Strait of Georgia that leads into Boundary Pass that the whales often take when they come back down to the west side of San Juan Island...
...not continuing north to the Fraser River area was an indicator of how much salmon was NOT in the Strait of Georgia in the areas they often forage.  However, they might have spent a short time foraging or searching for salmon in the Strait of Georgia...
...as the whales came down and approached Lime Kiln lighthouse in the afternoon, they seemed to be in a 'hurry'...maybe to get back to the same area off San Juan Island where they had spent the the prior day.  They did.  They were spread out and foraging...watching them from a great distance until almost dark, I could still see a good amount of breaching, tail slaps, spyhops and more...so their energy appeared to be remaining high...
...having watched them for the last 15+ years from the abundant salmon years to the sparse years, there are clear differences in their behaviors when there is and abundance of salmon and when there is not...



...the whales did not come all the way back up island, but instead it was believed they were heading back out to sea, which was later confirmed...
...over the next two weeks...it turned into a time of seeing a lot of 'little things'...

...once in a while a 'big thing' might show up...


...but when those big things are not there, you start to see those 'little things'...




...sometimes an opportunity comes to you...
...sometimes you have to wait for it...
...while on my way back to town I learned of whales coming north in San Juan Channel...


...I had heard about and seen many images of this 'little white whale'... these are a couple of the first images I've gotten...it was amazing to see T046B1B under the surface...and so close to shore in San Juan Channel...

...the Southern Residents have not yet returned to the inland waters...

...when people ask why aren't the whales here...I sometimes reply with:
  I think the whales are telling us:
"We know you humans have a lot of things you are working on to fix, so we're just going to leave you alone so you can focus on fixing things and get it all worked out.  When you get your act together, we'll be back."

The question remains:

Will the humans work together to restore the ecosystem, which includes restoring wild chinook salmon stocks, cleaning up these toxic waters and prevent new/foreign toxic substances into the waters of the Salish Sea?  That's just for starters.
 

Friday, July 5, 2019

7-5-19 Part 4- A Stunning Day on the Westside

This is Part 4 and last post from, what I saw, of the stunning day of J Pod, K Pod and Onyx L-87 on the west side.
...it was about 2:20 when the whales a were coming up island, headed up toward Lime Kiln lighthouse...
...just for them to be here and along the west side of the island was special...
...it wasn't know how long they might stay in these inland waters, but there were hardly any indicators that they might...



...not all came up to the lighthouse, but instead the whales were spread for a couple miles from the lighthouse and down island...when they turned and headed back down island I went to see if I could see them as they did...
...the road was packed...there were cars double parked along the west side, where the pullouts are...it was amazing and totally understandable - everyone wanted to see the Southern Residents...
...what they got to see was 'how it used to be' for these 'people of the sea'...stunning behaviors - energetic throughout the day...
...I just hope that those who had not ever witnessed these endangered orcas, understood just what it was they were seeing...

 ...it was a short visit to the lighthouse, but along the west side it lasted likely an hour or more...the whales went back down island, then spread out and were foraging...at near dark they came back up island...some vocals could be heard as late at almost 1:00 a.m.
...the next morning they were seen heading into the Strait of Georgia.

7-5-19 Part 3A- A Stunning Day on the Westside-Vocal Mystery

7-5-19...a bit of a vocal mystery occurred in the early part of the day...
J, K and L pod calls were heard...
...however, when the whales were documented by Dave of CWR, he found no L Pod whales, except for Onyx L-87 and J and K Pods...

...I had recorded the entire encounter, but wasn't listening during the entire encounter - intermittent cell connection to listen and I couldn't take my eyes off the water to try to reconnect (ugh!), while taking photos and watching the whales...
...I noticed Cappuccino K-21 right in front of the lighthouse, and expected him to pass on by as others were...but he didn't...he hung out there, close to shore...
...it was sort of curious as to what he was doing...he would surface, coming up - like in 'up periscope' and then 'down periscope'...there was very little movement forward, but when he surfaced again he had changed direction...
...one time up island...the next, facing down island...it was quite interesting watching him and wondering what he was up to...
...he was there for at least eight minutes with loud echolocation clicks and up-tick calls, one sequence lasting for over four minutes...
...and he was in the kelp too!...
...here's a 30 second sample of what occurred...

...the calls are more extended than the 'normal' L Pod up-tick (S19) calls, to me...so maybe they have a different technical name...
...this call was heard several different times during the whales extended time on the west side that day...I haven't looked at all the other recordings from the day, yet, to compare if they are the same or if Onyx was making any of them...
...however, since Onyx has traveled with J Pod (since 2010) this up-tick call is rarely heard when only J Pod and Onyx are present...


...it is a fact that the L54s not only make L Pod calls, they also make the K Pod, Kitten call!  
...and Cappuccino K-21, Raggedy K-40 (deceased) have a history of traveling with the L54s...Cappuccino used to leave K Pod and show up with L Pod whales in the late fall...that was back in about 2009...and Cappuccino, Opus K-16 and Sonata K-35, who travel together most often, had been heard making this call...

...they keep us on our toes and our ears tuned in...that's for sure. Fun stuff!!

7-5-19 Part 3 - A Stunning Day On the West Side

7-5-19

Parts 1 and 2 are on the two previous posts.
This is part 3, and it is only from 9 to 10 a.m. !

...some highlights from hour 3...












...it takes me a while to get encounters completed.  I want the sequence, I want to know who is with who, what's going on, and of course then comes the wondering why (sometimes)...
Savoring each and every encounter with the endangered Southern Residents is what it is all about, for me anyway...


...there's more to come in part 4...