Monday, March 30, 2015

3-30-15 A Whale of a Surprise!

Monday, March 30th
...out on Legacy Charters to see if we could locate J Pod whales who I had heard earlier over the hydrophones (see prior post)...
...we met up with whales as they were just entering Active appeared to be the J16s...
...little did we know we were in for a surprise! wasn't until we had exited Active Pass and were in the Strait of Georgia that this group of whales stalled out and and we weren't quite sure what they were doing...maybe with baby J-50 they were taking a rest?..I don't know...but what I do know is what occurred when they started to move on...
...Slick J-16 and baby surface as they passed by us...I thought to myself, "there's mom and the baby."...but then right in front of us and about 25 yards behind mom and the baby, another baby surfaces!...that's when I told Capt. Spencer, "I think there are two babies here!"

...and so began our quest to figure it out...and then Suttles J-40 surfaces - huh? what? don't even belong in this family group...just what is going on?

...our quest was to get two calf fins up at the same time, so we could prove there were two babies here, J-50 and someone else...that took a while...
...when Legacy was about to leave the scene, Maya's Westside Charters arrived, so I boat hopped and was able to stay out with these whales longer - thanks captains!
...we know that J-50 is a female, and that belly marking is a female, but is this J-50?!  So many questions...the answers may take a while...
...Suttles J-40 was behind this unfolding mystery...these whales could be babysitting the new calf...we've seen it before...

...The Center for Whale Research was contacted while we were on the water to let them know about this calf...then after looking at images and seeing open saddle patch on each side of the calf, they were contacted again with this information.  J-50 and J-51, the other two new calves in J Pod do not have open saddle patches.
More posts on J-52
4-1-15 We Know Who Our Moms Are

4-6-15 More About J-52

3-30-15 Those Fish Sounds and Then...

first to recap:
3-27 J Pod was last seen heading out the Strait of Juan de Fuca...
3-28 I heard that J Pod had been spotted at Sombrio...that's almost to the outer coast...
3-28 I began hearing those burp sounds (fish sounds I've been told) starting in the afternoon and continuing into the evening.
3-29 I was away from the hydrophones until the early afternoon...I had been out trying to locate the T11s...
3-29 late afternoon and into the evening more burp sounds...

If you aren't familiar with what I am speaking about go to this prior post...

I continue to record these sounds yet I still haven't gotten it into my head that the whales might be showing up again.

Well, they did at about 2:25 this morning 3-30-15!...over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...then at about 4:00 a.m. there were a bunch of 'squiggles' (S10s or S33s) over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...
...they were in the area until after 7:00 a.m. going up island...I wonder if they will be in the same place where no one could find them the other day?!...that's what I thought about when I heard them last :)

...don't know yet what the rest of the day will bring...but it's been great so far! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

3-27-15 Find Us If You Can!

Thursday, March 26th
...Find Us If You Can! relates to what happened on Thursday...
...(correction on time-I looked at my notes wrong) somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. I hear about 5 seconds of J pod calls over the Orca Sound hydrophones...
...I spend the next one and a half hours at Lime Kiln scanning for them...
...others spent the day looking for them...
...Find Us If You Can they said...and no one did! the evening I was beginning to wonder if I needed to 'fire' myself from the hydrophones...
...I know I heard them but wasn't quick enough to hit the record button and since no one had found them all day...well, had I been hearing things?  :)

Friday, March 27th
...Oh, You Found Us! was just about the same time as yesterday...10:02 a.m....
...lots of ship noise over the Orca Sound hydrophones...
...I hear faint clicking...was it the ship? or whales?...
...the clicking stopped...then started again... was whales!
...but after yesterday I didn't trust myself so I called and had another person's ears on it...
...Yes, it was whales and it was J pod!

Yippee!...I don't have to fire myself from the hydrophones.

...when I first saw them coming down island... from the park as they came down...
...the whales were spread out, but at that time going down when we came out on the boat later it was surprising to hear they were already heading toward Victoria and west... from the boat, Maya's Westside Charters with Capt. Jim...'s only March!...J pod shows up on sunny calm days and disappears on less sunny and less calm days...that's nice for us humans but I doubt it has anything to do with their travel...they are focused on finding salmon...we keep hoping they will continue to find enough to keep going...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3-24-15 J Pod Today? It's Only March!

Tuesday, March 24th...
...but it's only March!
...I woke up at 4:00a.m., feeling fully rested and got up...I said, "I must be up early cause there will be whales today."
That is just too funny!  Actually there was no hint of whales, as far as I know, until maybe after 11 this morning...
...and just yesterday I thought it was time to make an 'anticipation for the season' video clip....well, thanks J pod, you did it for me!
...oh, to sit there at the park and have J pod, both new moms and babies too, pass by, sort of close to shore at this time of year...special...then again it always is... took them a long time to get up to and past the lighthouse...they were going against a strong ebb tide, might have been part of the reason and there was some foraging going on too... they approached they were quite active...

...Slick J-16 and baby J-50 and J-42 (not shown) were just north of the lighthouse for quite a while foraging...they started going back down island and then flipped again...the J19s came along next, and behind them the rest, except that there were a few who where miles from shore... the whales were approaching a woman, who had just walked down the path, asked if there were any whales around...oh, yes, a humpback - Big Mama BCY0324 - who is still hanging around - in fact she was a couple miles offshore doing cartwheels and making trumpeting sounds the same time the killer whales were slowly making their way north...and then a juvenile bald eagle came flying right at her and then over our heads...needless to say she was about speechless!
...someone has a few teeth (rake) marks...and someone else dug in a'll heal and just about vanish...salt water is a great healer...
...J Pod took the longest time to travel less than ten miles...then the tide turned...maybe that would move them along...I haven't heard them come back down, not yet anyway... everyone wants to know where will the whales be tomorrow?
..wherever there is enough salmon for them is where they will be...

Last year in March, J pod was heard over the hydrophones on March 3rd.
The year before that J pod was seen near the Campbell Rive in early March.

This year in March: J pod seen: the 9th, the 18th, the 24th...interesting spacing of days...

There were fabulous vocalizations over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...I'll try to get some of that posted soon...I'll listen to see if any of the humpback trumpeting sounds got picked up too...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

3-18-15 The' Paul Revere' of the Whales Are Coming!

Wednesday, March 18th

...if this sounds strange refer to my blog post of 3-10-15...

...on Saturday, March 14th, with basically no burp (fish) sounds heard during the day of really nasty seas, J Pod showed up at 5:00 p.m....they were on the hydrophones for over seven hours...while they were here there were some burp sounds heard...and it couldn't be determined which way they ended up going...

...Sunday it poured rain all day, seas were nasty...didn't notice any burp sounds...
...Monday - there were a few burp sounds over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...
...Tuesday - burp sounds over the Lime Kiln hydrophones in the middle of the night and intermittent throughout the day...10:00 p.m. and a few more after that...
...Wednesday - 7:15 a.m. - J pod!! -loud and clear over the Orca Sound hydrophones... if only I would make a plan once I hear those sounds!

It sounded like they were coming down from the north... off to the park...but when I located them they were miles from shore and moving up island!

...the Orca Sound hydrophones are north of the Lime Kiln hydrophones the whales are heard over the hydrophones which are closest to where they are arriving from...usually that is...they were loud over the Orca Sound hydrophones and there was nothing coming over the Lime Kiln hydrophones until about 45 minutes later...those calls were fainter... the other night they had gone back out...and today they were coming back in...okay, that question resolved...

The next questions that came up for me are:
-Why were there no burp sounds before they arrived on Saturday?
-Since they had been here for several hours that night, with basically no burp sounds in advance and a few during the time they were here and then the left, did they run out of salmon and then turn around and leave?

Because now, over the last couple days those burp sounds were heard and then J pod shows up today, Wednesday, and they go up island to the north...still heading that way late in the day...

(I don't know how long these burp sounds will be the 'Paul Revere' of the 'whales are coming' a happy alert, not one of alarm...but it sure seems to have that least at this time of will take more years of this to know for sure...)

I went out on the Center for Whale Research boat with Ken Balcomb this morning and we found the whales spread all over the their version of zigging and zagging was a mile across this way and how about two miles back across the other way...
...they were actively chasing fish...however, with being spread out as they were one would think that the salmon were pretty well spread out least there were some going through these waters and the whales were certainly chasing them down...

note: When I'm on a federally permitted research boat the pictures I take belong to the permit holder - the Center for Whale Research...
(check their encounters page for pics from 3-18-15)...

Monday, March 16, 2015

3-16-15 Everything So Far Away!

March 14th
...on a stormy day, March 14th...I snapped a picture of a tug escorting a tanker south through Haro Strait on it's way out to sea and places beyond...
 ...I was glad to see that...and thought about how the Washington State legislators made that happen several years ago.  It was because of concerns about the environment.  Now I wonder if they will help to make happen the lower Snake River dams a thing of the past - i.e. help to get them taken down...
...there is a connection between those rivers, the salmon and the ecosystem all throughout the Pacific Northwest and even down into California... does one get people to realize that even though those dams might not be directly in your own 'backyard' that they really are, because there is an impact connected to here - salmon and the more than 137 species that rely on them - really!

...later that 5:00 p.m., J Pod 'spoke clearly' over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...they were not loud but they were here somewhere...
..I was off and running to the park to see if I could possibly pick them up in that choppy water...they had come around the bottom of Discovery Island and were heading up Haro Strait on the Canada side...
...proof of location - left is tip of Discovery Island, the right side if the tip of Chatham Island and in the distance is a ship
...they were so far offshore...there really is one whale in this image!
...they were on the Lime Kiln and the Orca Sound hydrophones for the next several hours...actually the last time I heard them was after 1:00 a.m. 3-15 over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...but it's still up for wonder as to which way they went...

...things were quiet in the killer whale department on March 15th, but the first of this season's humpbacks, Big Mama BCY0324, was still around!

...March 16th things began to happen...whales were seen heading in from the west and before you know it they were on the west side.  Ivan of the Western Prince located them once they were in Haro Strait...he 'handed them off' to me to watch...he'd be back out on their zodiac with passengers later...then Dave from the Center for Whale Research got to them...

...oh, so far from shore...
...the Ts were quiet over the Lime Kiln hydrohones...a few hours later, I heard some calls from them over the Orca Sound hydrophones and figured they were on to something...I found out later they had taken a harbor porpoise...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

3-12-15 Juvenile Steller In An Unusual Place

Thursday, March 12th whales in this area today...but a couple other interesting things while out on Maya's Charters...
...a juvenile Steller sea lion...
...I wonder how recently his mom left him...
...we saw lots and lots of pairs of eagles...

...I guess it is that time of year!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

3-10-15 Observations of SRKWs and Fish Sounds

ADDED on April 28, 2018 at 5:30 a.m.:  I put the date and time because this is the first time I have heard those 'fish sounds' in a very long time.  After the hydrophones had been moved, farther out and deeper down, a couple years ago, those sounds just about disappeared.  But was it due to the different location of the hydrophones or was it due to the lack of fish or what, I still don't know.   Maybe those aren't fish sounds at all. Will the whales show up in the next 12 to 24 hours? We'll see what, if anything, unfolds.

I've noticed this in previous years, but this winter it has been obvious, to me...thought some might find this interesting...

March 10, 2015   San Juan Island, Washington

Observations by Jeanne Hyde regarding fish sounds and the appearance of SRKWs.

Based on my observations, there is a suggested relationship between the burp (fish) sounds and the appearance of SRKWs during the winter months.  These observations are based on listening to the Lime Kiln hydrophones, Orca Sound hydrophones and sometimes the Port Townsend hydrophones and sightings of SRKWs in the inland waters.

The winter of 2014 has been especially noticeable regarding hearing the burp sounds of fish and the soon after appearance of SRKWs, so much so that I began tracking when I did or did not hear the sound in question and the appearance of the whales.

There are days that go by without a single burp sound being heard.  There are others when some of the burp sounds will be heard over the Orca Sound hydrophones, but the most often and most frequency are the Lime Kiln hydrophones, and rarely over Port Townsend hydrophones.

The in between times of the appearance of SRKWs, the hydrophones were basically void of any burps.  However, the other sounds commonly heard continued to be heard. That’s when it started to really get my attention.

How to quantity the burps is difficult.  So I ended up considering the frequency of hearing them.

From November through January I recorded the sounds, making mental notes of the appearance of the Southern Residents.  It was February that I got more detailed in my note taking.

Indicator #1 of a ‘Relationship’ between SRKWs showing up and fish sounds heard over the hydrophones (notes became more detailed in February)

11-25 burps

11-26 J, K, and L pods showed up. They were present on 11-26 through 11-19 SRKWs in the inland waters:  Juan de Fuca Strait to Puget Sound

11-29 burps

11-29 J and K pods were seen at the junction of Spieden Channel and Haro Strait.  J Pod went north and Ks went down island.

Indicator #2 of a ‘Relationship’ between SRKWs showing up and fish sounds heard over the hydrophones

(Other days during the month there were few to none in the way of burps).

The burps always occurred prior to hearing/seeing the whales, sometimes many hours prior.

12-7 burps (Lime Kiln HPs)

12-7 K pod calls on Lime Kiln hydrophones at 4:00pm and later on PT HPs

12-12 burps (Lime Kiln HPs)

12-12 J Pod heard on Lime Kiln hydrophones 

12-14 burps (Lime Kiln HPs)

12-24 J Pod in San Juan Channel up and west through Spieden Channel

12-25 burps (Lime Kiln HPs)

12-27 burps (Lime Kiln HPs)

12-30 J Pod going west in Spieden Channel, up Haro Strait and into 
          Swanson Channel. They were seen heading west in Juan de Fuca Strait 
           on 1-12-15.

January, 2015 - Based on my note taking, or lack there-of, January was quieter.

Indicator #3 of a ‘Relationship’ between SRKWs showing up and fish sounds heard over the hydrophones

The most recent example occurred starting on February 9, 2015.

Prior to February 9 the Lime Kiln hydrophones had little to none of these burp sounds.

2-9 at 9:22 a.m. 1 burp

2-9 at 11:04.a.m. 1 burp

2-9 at 5:04 p.m., 5:07 p.m. and several at 5:33 p.m.

2-9 at midnight and in the night lots of burps

2-10 (day away from hydrophone) more burps in the night

2-11 at 5:00 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. burps

2-12 in the morning lots and lots of burps

2-12 6:40 a.m. J Pod heard very faintly over LK HPs.  By 1:00pm they were passing Lime Kiln lighthouse going up island.

As of 2-13 at 10:40 p.m. no burps have occurred over the LK hydrophones since the prior day.

2-14 A few burps were heard and I started to think I was totally off base with this.  However, at 1:00 p.m. K and L pod whales were seen at Beechy Head heading west.  It is not known how far they had come in before they turned to go back out. (any relationship?)

Indicator #4 of a ‘Relationship’ between SRKWs showing up and fish sounds heard over the hydrophones

There were some burps during the afternoon and lots at around 5:00 p.m.

2-14     No more burps heard after 6:11 p.m.

2-15     a few burps throughout the day and in the night.

2-16     in the morning a few burps

2-17     burps on OS today for a short while today as well as on LK.

2-18     9:25 a.m. burps – a few

              9:40 a.m. the next one

             5:00 p.m. burps – a few

             5:41 p.m. – fish – one or two

             6:00 p.m. J POD COMING DOWN ISLAND – currently on OS HPS.

             6:54 p.m. J Pod on LK HPs   calls intermittent until about 7:41

             7:45 p.m. a few burps 

2-19      Burps continued, throughout the night, intermittently into the morning
                 of 2-19.

NOTE: Instead of continuing on, as they had done on every other occasion during this observation period, J Pod came back up island.  They were heard at about 4:00 a.m. over the LK HPs, and 4:30 a.m. over the OS HPs, and last heard over OS at 6:25 a.m.  They continued north at that time, going up Swanson Channel at 9 a.m.  The burps on LK and OS had already stopped.

No burps from 9 to 10:43 a.m.

No burps – 12:10 p.m.  2-19-15

J Pod had continued north through Swanson Channel, Trincomali Channel and Porlier Pass.

No burps all evening on 2-19

2-20     no burps in the night on LK.

             7:15 a.m. – OS – burps

            11:00 a.m. – LK - no burps (all day til 11)

            3:47 p.m. – OS burp

2-14     6:00 to 7:30 pm – lots of the harbor seal thrashing sounds?//again at

   9:15 p.m. no burps

2-21     No burps. 12:30 p.m.

            No burps 4:23 p.m.

            5:03 p.m. – LK – burp;   5:10 p.m.

2-21     5:28 p.m. LK is that shrimp?

            5:32 p.m.  LK – burps

            6:00 p.m. no burps

            9:23 p.m. burps

2-22     6:30 a.m. – OS – one burp - nothing else after that one (now 9:20 am.)

            12:10 p.m. no other burps

            4:22 burps on OS – one sound - may have been a few on LK in

2-23     last night (2-22 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. 2-23) internet was out

            7:30 a.m. a couple burps

            4:50 p.m. no burps all day

            5:00 p.m. – possible shrimp popping sounds

            11:00 p.m. – no burps nor shrimp sounds since 5pm

2-24     middle of night a few burps

            7:20 a.m. – popping sounds – is that shrimp?

            1:30 pm – LK – a few burps

            9:30 pm – no burps

2-25     only a couple burps all day – now 9:20 p.m.

            More burps during the night (not lots, but more than zero)

2-26     7:00 a.m. sounds like popping shrimp again

            6:00 p.m. and before, heard some burps during the day

            9:00 p.m. – no burps for a while now

2-27     last night about 1:00 a.m. some burps.  Then quiet most of the day.

            7:50 p.m. burp

2-28     no burps all day

3-1       burps on OS 6:30 a.m. and before

            OS-burps - 6:46 a.m./7:01 a.m.

            11:00 a.m. – LK- burps

            5:00 p.m. - LK- harbor seal slaps?   - at 8:30 p.m. no burps

3-2       6:03 p.m. - first time all day heard burp sound

            7:40 p.m. – burps – OS     LK - apx 9:00 p.m.

3-3       6:4 5 a.m. OS burp

            7:18 a.m. – burp – LK

            3:08 p.m. burp not sure if OS or LK

            Evening – LK several times harbor seal type slaps and splashes?

3-4       J Pod, who had been up north since 2-19, was spotted in Porlier Pass
               going back north on 3-4.  Had they started to come down and then 
               looped back up? 

3-5       not heard much on 3-4 or 3-5

3-6       shrimp maybe? –5:45 p.m.

3-7       7:00 p.m. burps

3-8       not much

3-9        5:00 a.m. - group of burps- more at 5:10 a.m., 7:00 a.m.        (this was the most in several days)

        7:50 a.m. sounds like shrimp??

        Noisy and rough seas most of day. 

Burps being heard more this evening

At about 7:30 a loud burp sound on LK

Apx 9:00 p.m. J pod calls, first on OS and then LK. J Pod heard until close to 11:00 p.m. on both LK and OS – intermittently. 

About 11:00 p.m. burps

3-10     in the night – nothing and lots of ship noise

3-10     8:30 a.m. – burps

            No more burps after about 8:30 a.m. …it’s now 10:30….none …

now 2:20 – now 4:50 p.m. and heard only one burp all day.

The most significant occurrence, to me, was on 2-18 and 2-19, when J Pod came down and turned around and went back north at the same time that the burp sounds were continuing.  Then there was silence.

What’s the meaning of it all?  Just that there is the potential, during winter months, to anticipate the arrival of SRKWs when these burp sounds start to increase in frequency, from zero a day to possibly 10 or more a day.  It isn’t a lot but it is a change.  Within the next 12 to 24 hours, after the whales have left the area, it seems that the burp sounds stop altogether.

The sea is a wonderful place. Let us all preserve it for the people of the land and the people of the sea.

Jeanne Hyde

Blog: Whale of A Purpose


Contact email: