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 a.mm….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:  whaleofapurpose@yahoo.com


Sara Shimazu said...


Your insight is just fantastic. I don't think that 'fantastic" really even does it justice. Thank you for all you do and for sharing your encounters and observations with the rest of us. Hope to see you again soon!


Jeanne said...

Thank you for your comments Sara!