Saturday, January 31, 2015

1-31-15 When Last Heard Over the Hydrophones

Over the last few days:

Thursday, January 29th
...5:45 a.m. J pod, K pod, and a few L pod calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones brought me to attention!...they sounded very clear, as if they were in Haro Strait, and were quite close...'s a sample of what I heard...Js are the loudest, Ks are a bit in the background - their kitten sound - and then a few up-tick L pod calls toward the end.  

...the calls lasted for close to an was dark...and by daylight, as far as I know, no whales were seen, by anyone, anywhere, until...
...about 3:45 in the afternoon K pod calls began over the Port Townsend hydrophones...what was most interesting is that it was ONLY K pod...there were no J or L pod calls... just where did J pod go?...and for the few, and only a few L pod calls that I heard, well they could very well have belonged to Onyx L-87...he more often has a different call, but I couldn't say which L pod whales were present other than him (most likely)...

Friday, January 30th
...figuring that K Pod had gone into Puget Sound, which was later confirmed, it was a wonder as to where J pod had gone...
...then I receive a call that whales are off the southern part of the island going and running... was the T60s and T02B...they have shown up several times since early December...
...five at the surface...there are five in the T60 family group, plus T02B who travels with them...they were off South Beach heading toward the Cattle Pt. lighthouse...
...up at the light as the whales were approaching, a California sea lion surfaced going up island...
...T60D, T60, T60C and T02B - in sync with one another...T60E and T60F were not at the surface...there was no fog here - yet - and wonderful morning sun...
...this was just an interesting set of their multiple foot prints...
...they had gone part way up into San Juan Channel when they disappeared into the fog...

 Saturday, January 31st news from anyone or anywhere...until late in the day...K pod was miles west of Victoria in the afternoon and they were heading west...I wonder if J pod went back out that way the other day or if they went north...

...where's their best chances of finding salmon?...that's where they will be...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1-28-15 K-12 Is Ready for the Big Game

Wednesday, January 28th

Sequim K-12... just had to get her in on the fun...hanging off the flag are salmon - she doesn't want you to forget about how much they need salmon!

Sequim is the only living whale in the Southern Resident Community with a number 12.  There's a 22 in each of the pods, there is a 42 in two of the pods, there is one 72, 82, and one 92 in one of the pods, but there is only one 12 and she is ready for the big day!

Back on January 25th...
...after hearing only one call in the night on 1-23, the next day no whales were seen...but the following morning, 1-25, they came down San Juan Channel very early in the morning. (They sure didn't stay very long this time.)

I didn't know they had been seen when I began hearing them, at about 10 a.m., over the Lime Kiln hydrophones. They certainly didn't sound too far away.  That evening I learned that at the time I was hearing them they really were very far.
The seas were flat calm and conditions had to be just right for their calls to reach the hydrophones. No wonder I couldn't find a whale in all my searching...they were way beyond visual sight!

I haven't 'heard' from the whales since that day...and the 'big game' day is often a time when they show up!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

1-24-15 One Call That's All

Saturday, January 24th
...the word on January 23rd, late in the day, was that many whales were inbound...

...that was over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...
...that's all they told us as far as I know!

Monday, January 19, 2015

1-19-15 It Was A Lucky Day

Monday, January 19th
...a boat, not a fishing boat, not a familiar boat, I just happened to see a boat make an abrupt direction change....hum...were they seeing something?...
...with the sun out and the seas calm - after a couple days of high winds and lots of rain - it was time to go see...
...seeing no whales, but seeing some activity out there I kept going down island looking...
...I ended up close to the bottom end of the what?...go that last quarter mile or turn around?...just then the phone rang:  "Cattle Pass, Cattle Pass" is all I heard.  I was already there! about lucky!
...I was hoping to see J-50 before she was 'all grown up'...and today...
...J pod had been north for almost a week...I was hoping they would come down in the daylight, sunshine, calm seas and close to shore - thank you very much! ...but I sure didn't expect them to be coming down San Juan wonder I never heard them over the hydrophones :)...
...Se-Yi-Chn was up with his family the J14s, Granny J-2, Onyx L-87, Shachi J-19, and Eclipse J-41...and lots of birds too!

...behind them were the Group B whales and the J16s...

...a very little video clip, with a little whale - J50 - surfacing next to Slick J-16...I didn't even know I got that until I downloaded the short clip...lucky again...
(sorry, it's almost impossible to see J-50 and her little surfacing by mom)

...this little one is almost a month old...and it's more than luck that is needed for this little one to survive...

...luckily they were at the surface almost the entire time they crossed by at the bottom of the pass...
...after which they grouped up and were taking several minute dives...once out of the pass, which way would they go?
...I walked up to the Cattle Pt. lighthouse for a different vantage point...
take a moment and imagine: there you are sitting on that cement bench in front of the lighthouse, sun shining, seas calm, whales and their blows, as J pod heads off into the distance...
...makes a person want to think about what goes down their drain, off their driveway, off the roof, thrown out in the trash...

If you haven't signed the petition or gotten your friends to, hopefully you will now.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

1-15-15 Who Exactly Was Out There?

Thursday, January 15th seemed like it had been forever since...
...a whale! wow!...then another and another...I could tell they were Ts from their behavior...they were taking something to eat!  When they are at that corner and then go out of view...down island? or just eating?  
I chose down island - wrong! to County now it had been 45 minutes since I had last seen them...but luckily the seas were calmer to the north than at Lime Kiln and I spotted a tall dorsal fin just as it was going down...they were north of County Park at least a mile offshore...
...I kept track of them, watching what looked like them making another kill, until I left to get on the boat with Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale was the T60s and T2B who travels with can link to the Center for Whale Research encounters page for Dave's write up on the trip.
...back on December 4th I was out on Maya's Westside Charters and we saw the T60s...I never did post about was the day that Rhapsody had died and things just got topsy-turvy.
...These images are from 12-4-14 and NOT from 1-15-15...

...when I saw T60 today while on CWR boat, she still had lots of pink in some of the gouges on her spinal ridge.  I was surprised to see that...thought they would have healed more over the last several weeks...

...I had been recording over Lime Kiln hydrophones...having seen the locations of these whales and having a time stamp on what images I did get from shore, I checked when I got home to see if they had been 'talking'.  I didn't expect to find anything and was surprised that I did.  I assumed it was the T60s and T2B who were doing the 'talking' but didn't take the time to listen just then.
...Now just who was it who was there?  These calls sound more like Residents than Transients...note: these were recorded over 1 1/2 hours so the calls are separated with a slight pause on this clip.

...I didn't hear any of the low tone sounds that I normally associate with can hear them on my blog post of 4-5-14, they sound very different...

...did we have have some Residents in the distance and not know it?
...are these just what the T60s and T2B sound like?

Don't know the answer to that just yet...

note added 1-19-15:  Residents, sounded like K pod whales, but where out there were they? !

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1-14-15 SRKW Salmon Initiative - Please Sign

Wednesday, January 14th

If you haven't signed the petition:  Southern Resident Killer Whale Salmon Initiative please do and ask your friends, who know how much you care for these whales, to sign the petition because they know how much you care!

Just received this:

"In just a matter of weeks we’ve collected more than 5,800 signatures on our petition to remove the four lower Snake River dams to save the Southern Resident Killer Whales from extinction!  Orca advocates are amazing.  We now need to double the number of signatures we have in less than two weeks.  

The folks who produced DamNation are going to Washington, DC the last week of January, 2015 to screen the film DamNation and to lobby Congress to remove the dams.  They want to present our petition.  They believe if they can add the importance of dam removal to the Southern Residents' survival and recovery to that of the endangered and threatened salmon runs, it will be a great benefit in moving the discussion towards removing the dams.  They believe that if we have at least 10,000 signatures on our petition, it will be a significant help.  Please help us help the Southern Residents!  If you haven't signed our petition yet, please sign it now.  Please circulate the petition as widely as you can.  THANK YOU!  Here is the link,"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

1-11-15 Breaching Orcas Showing Pregnancy

Sunday, January 11th

I don't know if the Center for Whale Research has confirmed who the mother of J-50 is just yet.
So, for now, my ASSUMPTION is that the mother is Slick J-16.  Here's what I have been doing.

The Year 2014
Two moms - J16  and  J32.
One survived.
One did not survive.

The Year 2011
Two potential new moms - J16  and  J32.
One baby was born (J-48) but died.
No birth ever confirmed on the other.

The most recent events in December 2014 got me to looking at my images of both Slick J-16 and Rhapsody J-32.
How many breaching images did I have of them?
What, if any, information might those images reveal?

The revelation was amazing to me!  Most of the images in this post I adjusted - coloration only - to enhance the outline of the whale.  It's sort of like negative image and the purpose was to be able to see the difference in the body shape.
This is Rhapsody J-32 - three different breaching events:  November 2010, September 2011 and July 2014.  She did not appear pregnant in the image on the left.  She appeared to be very pregnant in the middle image, though no calf was ever seen. (And if she was very pregnant in the middle image, then in the image on the left she was in the first third of her pregnancy.) We know she was pregnant in the image on the right and both she and her baby died in early December.
Here is Slick J-16 - two different breaching events: June 2010, August 2011.
Though she may have been at the very beginning of her pregnancy her body does not show signs of change in the image on the left.  We know she was pregnant in August 2011.  See the wide girth she has. J-48 was born in late 2011 but did not survive.

Now for Slick and 2014: She breached far, far from shore so I had no more zoom factor to work with.  Here are the images and the outline of her body shape.  She looks pregnant on the left image but as she lands she doesn't look as pregnant!
Rhapsody breached a lot.  With so many breaches from Rhapsody it made it a bit easier to find like images for comparison.  With Slick it wasn't as easy.

I then expanded my search to see if there might be others.
I found that I had breaching images of:

Sequim K-12 within six months of Saturna K-43 being born. Polaris J-28 within six months of her giving birth-info from calf necropsy. Ino L-54 within two months of Keta L-117 being born. Tahlequah J-35 within six months of her giving birth to J-47.
And they all have something in common. They were in the latter stages of pregnancy.  It helps if the image is taken from an angle that shows the most - of course. But that doesn't always happen. Tahlequah didn't show much at that angle.

But then I found something very interesting. Spock K-20 looked like she could be pregnant.
I searched more and found two images, almost the same yet taken a year apart.  The image on the right was taken on the same day as the above image.
I don't think Spock would have shown an almost exact same pregnant looking girth if she had been in latter pregnancy stages on these two images taken 12 months apart.  All I can figure is that she is just one very large whale!

Just like with humans, we all look a bit different.  So the only way to attempt to tell, from breaching images, is to have lots. Now if only they would have a lot of wild Chinook salmon to eat they might just do that more often.  Breaching is just one way to possibly tell if a whale is pregnant.

These images I took either from shore, while on Maya's Westside Charters, or while on the Western Prince
I've now expanded my search to to see who else might fit the profile.

From now on I hope to remember to have on my 'analytical hat' when I see a female in the Community breach!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1-6-15 Each Whale Has a Story to Tell

Tuesday, January 6th
...lots going on and yet nothing...
...with the birth of new calf J-50 there have been and still are many questions that are waiting to be answered...
...and with the death of Rhapsody J-32 last month that too presented many questions...

Over the past ten plus years I've gotten to know these whales.  Sometimes who they are is easily seen and others, not so.  I've blogged about them and what I've seen.  Last summer I began to put some of their stories together in short booklets highlighting things about them, through my eyes, as to who they are.
It all began with creating a gift for someone who is an orca adopter.  I made two booklets for her, one of Tika K-33 and the other of Cali K-34, her adopted whales.  It was so well received that she asked if I would make one for Granny J-2, which I did.  And then, Rhapsody's death occurred.  Someone else asked me to write about her and who she was.  It wasn't easy to find her voice because she was more than just a whale known as 'the breacher', but finally I did.  And the way I did was through the process of creating the booklet.
Do NOT copy
The whales and their stories are intertwined.  Each booklet, which is 10 to 15 pages, highlights events I have witnessed about that individual, what specific things they have done, and their interactions with others. An example:  Granny is the star of her booklet but without the others there would be no story. However, she would be mentioned in others booklets because she participated in their stories.
Do NOT copy
Each whale has something to teach us about them.
Do NOT copy
I've met some as newborns and others when they were already in their late years. Ten years was a good time to do this,  Hopefully, in another several years I will be able to add to their stories.
 Do NOT copy
Not all of the whales will have booklets.  Some booklets will include the entire family group.  They are a work in progress right now and take time to create.  Each booklet is $12 plus tax in WA and shipping.  Shipping costs are about $5 U.S. for one booklet.  The total cost would be between $16 and $20 shipped in the U.S., dependent on postal costs.

I've made a few.
Granny J-2
Baba L-26 (deceased) with parts of it about Ballena L-90 and Crewser.
Tika K-33
Cali K-34
Rhapsody J-32 (in memory of) (deceased 12-4-14)
Eclipse J-41
T'ilem I'nges J-49  (even at his young age there was lots to tell)
Comet K-38 
Jade L-118 is in progress...some of these have been requested.

I'm finding that each booklet takes 40 or more hours to create.  Each is a glimpse into the life of the focused whale. And each one I complete becomes my favorite! - just like the whales they are all so different.

If you want one of a whale that I haven't yet created for, order it and I'll make it up.  

You can order through me or they are also available through The Whale Museum - price is different.

You can contact me at:

-this post updated 2-9-15