Monday, September 19, 2022

September 18 & 19 - Lots Going On These Last Two Days

The SRKWs had gone back out to sea.

We've been glad they have been gone most of the time because of the boat that sank.  

Sept 18

Meanwhile there have been Transients in various places. There are two brothers, who seem to like to not do what the humans would like them to do and that is avoid the spill area where the boat went down.

And they did it again. It was in the afternoon; J Pod was in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and inbound...oh, no!  Some Transient orcas showed up on TWM's web cam...they kept coming north, so I went to County Park to see what they would do...this image is of the crane that lifted the boat up to the surface...but there was much more to do.

...what would those two brothers do? 

...just what they have done before...go on the inside of Low Island, which is just off County Park...and on the shore side of the crane/barge and sunken boat.

...word was that J Pod was pretty much in the same place as they were about 5 hours before...

...then there was word that they might have come to Haro Strait after dark, but by the next morning 9-19 they were seen heading west at about the same place they had been the day before.

...well, they know what they are doing... take on it is that maybe they had come in and even though they weren't detected over the hydrophones, that just maybe (a little levity here) they sent a 'scout' up island to check out the sunken ship situation (ha-ha).

(Note: we've seen the whales do this in the past only it was more about looking for fish than looking for the status of a sunken boat.)

(Levity continued...)  Granny J-2 must have taught Shachi J-19 well.

'When in doubt, head out!'

Sept 19

The sunken ship had been lifted to the surface but was still in the water. Official word came that they would be moving everything to shallower water and out of the travel path of the orcas.  oohhh..

Success! And what an awesome event to watch...the patience, the coordination of so many.  Thank you USCG, Dept of Ecology, deterrent team and so many others.  Here are a few images from what I saw today.

The cable coming down toward the left side of this image is what the sunken boat is attached to. It wasn't as easy to see it as it was yesterday because it was on the far side. They were heading into Open Bay.

Three Dept of Ecology boats. the two closest each have one end of the boom that is moving a good distance behind the crane.  The farthest boat appears to be a support Dept of Ecology boat.  

This image shows the extent of the boom.  I would assume if there was a leakage from the rescued boat the boom was there and ready.
I had seen some smaller boats, possibly DFO and/or WDFW, that were deterring speeding boats away from any interference in this operation.  

The last boat I saw was the US Coast Guard ship.

This may be 'all in a day's work' for all who are working on these boats/ships. 

It is something that not everyone gets to witness.

Thank you, one and all for your service.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Sept 8 - Late Afternoon with J & K pods

 This is part 2 of Sept 8.  See prior post for part 1.  

Monday, September 12, 2022

Sept 8 - A Morning with J & K pods.


There was still a lot of day left.  They'll be back up island later.
I can only say that because I am posting this a few days later.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

8-27-2022 Looking for Seals, eh?

 It has been 14 days since the SRKWs were seen in Haro Strait.

The boat that sank is due to be brought up tomorrow (8-28).  You can see US Coast Guard Pacific Northwest for updates as to the status.

The other preparations that are occurring are the team consisting of U.S. and Canada people in official capacity, The Whale Museum - Soundwatch, San Juan County Marine Stranding Network, Wild Orca, Dept of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada), US Coast Guard, and others (apologies for anyone I left out).

Had you been a pleasure boater or just casually scanning into the distance you might have thought these were a bunch of fishing boats or a boat group having a party.

However, they were together to practice various postures they might need to take to deter oncoming SRKWs who were heading into an oil spill.  I could see them from a great distance and couldn't figure out what they were doing until there was a report about what they were doing.

Some people have expressed concern.  I got to where I just had to reply and here is my reply.  

"Some have had a difficult time with the idea of noise to deter the SRKWs. So I wrote a reply. I wanted it to be displayed on my FB page directly and not just as a comment: Here is what I wrote:
I understand concerns expressed here. Several years ago I watched from shore as the whales were coming up island, their path of travel was aiming right at a seiner with their nets out. When they saw the whales approaching they started banging on the side of boat and did not stop until the whales turned and went back down island. As the whales came up, they slowed, paused and turned back.
The seiner finished their work and a while later the whales came back up island as if nothing had occurred.
In the case of an oil spill I would prefer the whales turn away from potential life threatening danger than to watch no attempt be made to save these whales from inhaling toxins.
Please remember the whales pass on information to one another and generation to generation and surely Granny J2 taught them well. Remember all they have gone through and they continue to press onward because they have learned and remember.
It pains me to think that some people would prefer nothing be done to help save the SRKWs."

I do my best to allow people to have their own opinion, but when it comes to doubting what others are doing to help save the whales is not helpful.  

So today Saturday 8-27, I get a call that whales are moving up island and are very close to shore. Oh, no!!  I got to Lime Kiln asap and ran down to the lighthouse.  Ten seconds later I heard a blow and it was loud. and oh my, goodness, right along the shore!

Below image is zoomed in version of the above image.  He was in the kelp.  I bet he was looking for harbor seals.

There were two.

They are Transients.

They were there at 7:26 a.m.

They dove just before the lighthouse and poof!  they disappeared!

Later I learned from a friend who was staying at County Park that they came inside Low Island. They must have been looking for seals. they went north...good time to run errands in town.

....oops! they had gone up island likely up around Henry and then came back down through Mosquito Pass. There were 2 whales and at least 11 boats.  Well, I saw the boats sooner than the whales...and it seemed the whales had fooled the boats because some of the boats headed offshore as if they had spotted them...when all of a sudden there was one 'at my feet' - momentary and amazing!

The whales continued on their line...this taken from County Park. 

It might be difficult to see the whales in this image but on the left side is the point at the south end of County Park and they were steadily going down island...hurry to the park!

And another point of land but this time it's on the opposite side. Looking up island from Lime Kiln lighthouse and it's not easy to spot just two whales in not very calm water.  But...

...and then - right along the shore - again!

...and again, surfacing with kelp on his dorsal fin, in the same spot he had it on his dorsal fin in the morning.

Still looking for seals, eh.

...There haven't been as many seals along Lime Kiln as in previous years.  I wonder if the Ts are making a dent in the seal population here. 

...They continued down island but more offshore and last I saw one through the binoculars he was heading west.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Observations after the Boat Sinking

-boat sank 8/13/22 in mid afternoon

-SRKWs were on their way inbound and did not reach the west side of the island until about 20:30. Images were taken from Pile Pt. with a statement that the whales appeared to be heading down island and offshore.

-the next day the whales were seen in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the Coho ferry between Pt. Angeles to Victoria. Three researchers were on the Coho and ID'd the whales and stated that most all but the L54s were present.  K-44 and L-89 – each had not been seen in many months, so unrelated to this event.

7 days later, 8-20, seen in the morning off Hannah Heights, heading north, close to shore were two humpback whales. By the time they were approaching County Park they were very far offshore, could barely see the HBs except for the prominent exhale (blow).  Looking from shore at County Park the HBs had not quite reached the middle of the parallel to the County Park lawn viewing area when the HBs turned and headed farther to the west. 

A few hours later Ts were seen off Discovery Island coming into Haro Strait. Many boats were with them as they traveled in CA waters and were far from shore.  They came into U.S. waters north toward Lime Kiln and then turned to going down island when they were just south of Lime Kiln area. 

Transients and humpbacks are unpredictable, though HBs more often continue on their direction, eventually.

Transients are the least predictable. 

Southern Residents are the most predictable, though in this case it was a surprise that they headed back out to sea in the middle of the night (based on where they were seen the next morning) when more often they would stay off the south end of SJI and head north up Haro in the middle of the night or early the next morning. If that had been the case, they would have passed through the oil spill area.  Sometimes, in the past, they have done this travel, with no sounds of their presence over the Lime Kiln hydrophones.

This time they were not heard because they had left Haro Strait and were heading back out to sea.

Any relationship to anything?

I don’t know. However, I find the SRKWs behavior of leaving so soon, after just arriving, to be unusual.
As of August 23, morning, they remain far to the west or out to sea.