Thursday, May 31, 2018

5-31-18 A Happy Accident

Wednesday and Thursday, 5/30-31
...hearing several Transient calls over the Lime Kiln hydrophones in the early morning...but not too early...this time I thought I might be able to find them. took about 1 1/2 hours and giving up the search, walking to my car when something caught my eye...oh, my...miles from shore - an adult male orca!
...doesn't matter how many times, it is always fun when you find one, especially when this one was at least 4 miles offshore...way too far to get any photos.
...there was another with this one...they evidently had come up Haro Strait and made it as far up as Baynes Channel, or almost to Baynes...looked like they found a meal, from that lunging and splashing I could see, and then turned around and went back out...
...I later learned it was T117 and T172...I haven't ever seen T117 before but I have seen T172...she is a great example of the phrase, "Transient orcas never die." That's because you just never know when they might show up again.  T172 is a great example, at least for this area...she hadn't been seen since 2012 and then showed up briefly, last year and now this year. I was about to get into my car and was putting my cell phone in my pocket I heard a strange noise...wondering what button I had pushed on my phone, I looked and saw that I had taken a burst of images...
...what was that behind my head?  I looked up - wow!
...that evening on the CTV News they were talking about the sun halos (some called it a sun dog) totally a surprise...

...had I not been looking for those whales, had I not found them, I would likely have not seen the 'happy accident' above my head! 

...there were other Transients that were spotted to the north...slowly making their way toward the west turned out to be a day of 'will they or won't they' because they kept changing direction... was the T86As (minus T86A1), T101s, and T124A2s...

...this was not a 'happy accident' but a 'happy moment' :)

...after the whales had passed by, quite close to the lighthouse, there were a couple groupings of gulls and they were doing what they normally do when on top of a bait ball...
...when I looked at my images I wondered what the heck they were eating...looked more like spider legs to me...I sent the image off and got a reply that they were it was on to learning more about them...
...I know there are sandlance in these waters, I've just not ever seen gulls eating them before in this area, but am more used to seeing them eating what you can actually see is a bait fish...
...for the last fourteen years I was watching the Southern days were full of encounters or waiting for them or going on a boat to see them... it is different...
...not sure how long it will stay this way, but as long as they are finding food somewhere else that's okay with me... long as the powers-that-be start taking immediate action to restore this ecosystem... the meantime I will continue to listen, to watch for, and wait for the SRKWs and while I wait I hope more 'happy accidents' will come my way.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

5-27-18 Change Was In the Air This Morning

Sunday, May 27th the door to hear gulls - yes, sea gulls - a sound that has been pretty much void around here for the last month...
...then I see 10 gulls...not much but when there have only been none, one, or two...well then 10 is alot...
...I heard a pileated wood pecker and it took a while to find where it was...
...still no word on the Residents...but it at least it gave me a bit of hope just hearing those gulls...
...there have been Transients and humpbacks in the area...yesterday the T65As came down San Juan Channel...

...and today the T100s and the T124As, who were in the area yesterday, surprised a lot of people by appearing along the west side of the island in two different groups about a half-hour apart and in-between the two groups were two humpbacks...

...then just a short while ago, at 8:22pm there were two Transient calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophones...was only quick enough to get one of the calls recorded but that was's been a long time since hearing any killer whale calls over the hydrophones...glad for this one! Oh, then another at 9:15 pm...

...coming back down Haro Strait, or others that had been in Puget Sound, or even others that we had no clue were even in the area?...another mystery for another day.

Friday, May 25, 2018

5-25-18 In the Distance - Last Year

Friday, May 25th

Hoping to hear some of this in the not too distant future... the meantime...

...after that acoustic encounter they were not heard from for three weeks.

...Saturday 5-26 is the Swiftsure Race (sailing race) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca...maybe someone will see the whales all the way out at Swiftsure Bank!

Monday, May 21, 2018

5-21-18 J Pod's Absence is Speaking Volumes

Monday, May 21st
There are 10 more days in the month of May.

This is the 42nd year that the arrivals and departures of J, K, and L Pods, to and from the Salish Sea, have been tracked by researchers.

It isn't about how many days they were here, but whether they were here at all, during the month of May each of those years.  J Pod has made their presence known in the Salish Sea every month of May...except for the second year (1977) when there was a ?-mark as to whether any SRKWs were present or not.  

Will this be the first documented year that they are not present in the month of May?

Thanks to a whale watcher in Tofino, J Pod, some L Pod and some K Pod whales were encountered on May 17th.

Many people have commented, "The sun is out, the weather is good, many people have returned for their research season, and now we just need the whales."
I disagree.  We need the salmon in here first and then the whales.

From Andrews Bay south to Land Bank, similar to last year, the gulls are few and far between.  This past April there were gulls and now nothing.
So when I saw this gull today...not much else to look at...and then the gull got my attention...
...he stuck his head down under and came up with a piece of kelp...
...I don't think they eat what was going on?...
...several times the gull stuck his head under the surface but came up empty...
...this time he was looking "serious"...
...tried it again...
...and then another try and success!
...a few minutes later success again at another section of kelp...
...maybe 'pleased with his catches'  :) there were some Dall's porpoises offshore in the area of the lighthouse.
...there have been some Transients in the area but not close to this side of the island.
...a few humpbacks too.
...but once again this year at this time...Haro Strait, in this area, is pretty sparse...

Watch for the bird 'indicators'.
Watch for the bait fish to start showing up.
Then we hope the salmon will.
And then the SRKWs.

In the meantime we're glad that they have been seen, even if it was close to 150 miles away.

Think of what you can do each day to be kind to your environment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

5-15-18 On Your Way to the Island?

...soon the island will become 'summer busy'...
...a few thoughts, just plain and simple...


Saturday, May 12, 2018

5-12-18 Transients In Small Groups

Saturday, May 12th
...out on the Western Prince on a few trips recently:
On May 5th it was the T90s and T002B...but first it was a branded California sea lion:

On May 10th it was some of the T124As:

On May 11th it was a humpback and also the T123s (who have been seen a lot lately):

...the branded sea lion images get sent in to specific sea lion researchers for tracking...actually there have been two other CA sea lions with partial brands (not included in these images)...that's unusual, as far as I know, for seeing several branded ones up here. The three that I sent in were branded at the Columbia River, by Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife.   

...thinking about the Southern Residents...
...Albion test fishery that starts each year on April 1, has so far had one (yes, only one) Chinook salmon in their count...
here are prior year comparisons for the time frame of 4/12 - 5/12
in 1985 - 30
in 1989 - 48
in 1993 - 49
in 1997 - 54
in 2001 - 58
in 2004 - 27
in 2005 - 21
in 2006 - 39
in 2007 -  no data
in 2008 - 4
in 2009 - 21
in 2010 - 12
in 2011 - 27
in 2012 - 5
in 2013 - 1
in 2014 - 20
in 2015 - 7
in 2016 - 0
in 2017 - 3

...with the time the SRKWs have been gone out to sea, is a possible indicator that they are finding food on the outer coast, or they know there is absolutely no salmon coming in so they are searching further for food...


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

5-8-18 Remembering What Was

Today is Tuesday, May 8, 2018 and we wait for word from the Southern Residents.
Tomorrow will be a month since J Pod was last seen and they were heading out to the ocean.  It is not known when they will return.  
When they return it could J Pod, K Pod, L Pod, or a combination of all three pods.
Here's a morning clip of where they were on June 5, 2016.

Hope for what should be.
Learn what you can do to help the Southern Residents survive.
Then do it.

Don't forget about them just because they aren't here.
They are somewhere.
They will be back.
But they will only stay if there is enough food.