Wednesday, December 28, 2016

12-28-16 Noise Disturbance Comes from Above the Surface Too

Wednesday, December 28th

J Pod showed up in San Juan Channel and spent a good portion of the afternoon spread out throughout the top end of the channel...then they began to get back together and had picked a direction...
...I was watching from shore...the whales were far away...some had gone behind Spieden Island out of my view, and at least one was in Spieden Channel and had moved far enough west that he was to the west of the boat house (not sure that is the correct term - but it's toward the eastern end on the south side) on Spieden Island.

...The Center for Whale Research was out as were a few whale watching boats...

...then came this...
...later someone said it was a navy plane and commented on the noise level...maybe once upon a time it was a navy plane, but I wonder about now.
It buzzed the whales.
Maybe whoever was in the plane didn't know orcas were there and wanted to see what those whale watching boats were looking at.

It appeared to be flying quite low, lower than what one normally sees, and way lower than what is permitted when whales are present.

...just the day before there was a candlelight vigil to honor the Southern Residents and for the struggles they have had and continue to experience.
...some folks wrote messages on rocks...I saw this and thought 'how fitting'... isn't just the noise from under the surface.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

12-27-16 A Friend to the Orcas

Tuesday, December 27th

...with so many losses in the Southern Resident Community and two very shocking ones - the death of Samish J-14 in the middle of summer and now the death of DoubleStuf J-34 this month, a friend was very distraught.

Thinking of all the things she has done and continues to do and her not realizing how much she actually does, I tried to convey to her some of the things she has told me she has done and continues to do.

I decided to share it with others here on my blog.  Have you a friend who needs a bit of encouragement?  Poetry or drawings or just a phone call or two...


Sunday, December 25, 2016

12-25-16 Orca Vocal Encore on Christmas Morning

Sunday, early, early morning Christmas morning
so early it was only 1:25 a.m when they woke me up!

How very fortunate we are to be able to hear the whales even when we can't see them. 

So enjoy the sounds of some of J and K pods and Onyx L-87 too, in the wee hours of Christmas morning. 
They might not be loud as they sometimes are, but that's okay.  They give us the gift of their presence no matter what the volume might be.
You'll hear them again and each time will be special because it never occurs exactly the same. 
May those sounds carry you throughout the year.

Merry Christmas. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

12-24-16 Merry Christmas Eve From the Whales

Saturday, December 24th
...transient orcas were seen not too far distant and then they decided to come up the west side of San Juan Island... was the T19s...I only saw T19, T19B and T19C...
...their blows were stunning to see...
...they were slowly moving up island...and just down from the park they dove and didn't surface until a good distance north of the lighthouse...and it looked like, from their behavior, they appeared to be after a harbor seal which gave the opportunity to get a couple different angles

...then up to County Park as they continued up island...
...home to listen to the Orca Sound hydrophones...and soon I heard them vocalizing as they continued north...those calls began at about 2:25pm and continued intermittently for about 20 minutes.
...then I heard them over the Lime Kiln hydrophones - very faint and brief...I figured they were on the far side of Haro Strait...there are a couple areas there that the Orca Sound hydrophones don't picks up calls but Lime Kiln will...
...then it was quiet of calls... for the Merry Christmas Eve From the Whales...
...looking at the images of the Ts...with the hydrophones streaming in the background...didn't figure I would hear the Ts again...
...and then...and then..."Oh, my, it's Residents!"
...I don't know who else but I know I needed that today...I don't think they had been seen by anyone today, but here they were and they were on the Lime Kiln hydrophones for close to 2 hours...faint K Pod calls had started at 4:10 pm and then J pod calls soon started...they got a bit off I went in search of them, but there wasn't much daylight left...never did see them but when I got back home they were still vocalizing over the hydrophones.

Yes, Merry Christmas from the whales it was.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12-21-16 From Smiles to Shock To Waiting

Wednesday, December 21st began with a couple strange, non-mechanical, sounds over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...instead of waiting to hear more it was off to Lime Kiln to see!
...running down the hill I heard a blow! question? which direction?...something I would not know until I got beyond the trees...
...I was too late...standing there seeing a group of what I thought were 5 to 6 I watched as they were heading down and quickly...then I grabbed the camera to at least get proof of whales passing...thinking I might not know who...

...there was a male with them...
...but run I had to! to the next location...and there I got lucky...
...later in the day I was comparing dorsal fin tips to verify if that was Lobo K-26...likely because his mother, sister, and brother were present...but best to be sure...

...after these whales went out of my view I went back up island by only about a mile...I saw a couple breaching way to the north...

...there were a few others closer...their long dive times and the choppy seas did not help matters in locating them...

What had been a smiling (breaching whales always bring smiles) grateful time of seeing some J Pod whales, turned to a total state of shock when I was processing images from the day. With the Victoria BC tv news on in the background is when I learned of the death of DoubleStuf J-34.

What happened? Why? I last saw him on December 10th as the whales were traveling down San Juan Channel past Friday Harbor.  
We know he was seen in Puget Sound on Dec 14th.
It is not known what killed him.  
He died somewhere north of Vancouver in Canadian waters.
The Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada conducted the necropsy and will post updates on the following site:

And now...We wait.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12-18-16 This Time It Was Transients

Sunday, December 18th

...J Pod was on the hydrophones a few days the middle of the night...

...and this time it was Transient vocals over the Lime Kiln hydrophones at about 10:30pm.
...they lasted about 10 minutes as the Ts approached (from which direction?) and passed by and then moved on...'s a brief clip:

...they always sound eerie, to me,...much different from the Residents...

Friday, December 16, 2016

12-16-16 J Pod - Still in the Area

Friday, December 16th
...over the last week...

...J Pod has been in the area - a large area...from Puget Sound to at least the mid section of the San Juan Islands and possibly farther to the north or east and who knows where else... was another one of the those surprises...on December 10th...
...Blackfish Whale and Wildlife Tours (aka Hobbes -for those who know Hobbes) happened upon orcas just as they were heading back to their harbor...the whales were approaching a location that might yield a view or two, so out the door to see if I could make it... lucky...they were just approaching my view...however, far from shore and in some pretty choppy seas... when Onyx L-87 and Blackberry J-27 came into view...okay - J Pod whales!
...a few pics which will show you just how far from shore they were :)...

...the whales were heading down San Juan Channel and binoculars were a must to even see them as they passed by the entrance to Friday Harbor... the about 3:30 a.m. J Pod whales were on the Lime Kiln hydrophones...very faint and not for a long time...a very short clip with only 2 calls...but they were there - wherever 'there' was!

...which way did they go? 
...I learned later some J Pod whales showed up in Puget Sound.  That's expected at this time of the year.'s who I got proof of presence images of:
Blackberry J-27
Eclipse J-41
Nova J-51
Shachi J-19
Onyx L-87
Notch J-47

DoubleStuf J-34 are a few images of some of them...

...there were others as well...

Moby J-44
Mako J-39
Cookie J-38 seems that J Pod whales have been using a similar 'route' - for now...
...and there was a fishing derby in the San Juans last week...they too were fishing in the same general area where J Pod whales have recently been seen up here around the San Juans.
...after all that does make sense.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

12-7-16 We Now Know Which Direction They Went

Wednesday, December 7th
                                          Oh, what a surprise! 
On Dec 5th when J Pod was heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones I could not determine their final we know - it was North.
                                 Because today they came South!

...the whales were spread out except for that first rowdy group...

It looked like Cookie J-38 and DoubleStuf J-34 way offshore but could not be sure on that.  There were others even farther off than them. CWR was out there so they'll have more.
Tsuchi J-31 was in the rowdy group that came past the lighthouse, others with her were Shachi J-19, Eclipse J-41, Nova J-51, Hy'Shqa J-37, T'ilem I'nges J-49 (?), Suttles J-40, maybe another one or two.
Some of the J16s - Slick J-16, Scarlet J-50, Echo J-42, Mike J-26 came along a while later.
The last seen within camera reach were J17 and calf and one other (likely Kiki J-53 and Moby J-44), but two of them veered offshore before getting an image...J17 was the only image of that group of 3. All three of us saw mom and calf surfacing as they approached...

The last few times the whales have shown up there have been many 'burp' sounds prior to...I believe they are fish other words something is moving before the whales show up and then after the whales are gone from the area those fish sounds stop.  Here is what the burp sound (fish sound) sounds like: 

If you are interested here is the prior post where I had tracked it all... 

Monday, December 5, 2016

12-5-16 J Pod Must Have Found Some Incoming Salmon

Monday, December 5th

Map #1 covers many days with lots of question marks...

Map #2 - surprise! 
Happy whales for everyone, especially the whales finding salmon.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

12-4-16 Holiday Rush Explained Via Creatures of the Sea

The holiday rush is beginning.

Originally posted in 2014 and still appropriate for today.