Tuesday, July 31, 2018

7-31-18 J and L Pods on the Last Day of July

Tuesday, July 31st
All of J Pod took all day, yesterday, to get from the Strait of Georgia to Haro Strait...being heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones at about 1:00 a.m. This morning the seas were choppy, the wind was strong...and where the whales were remained unknown until late in the morning.

They made their way up island, the leading group, by about 5pm...the seas were still choppy and the wind wasn't as strong, but the sun glare was providing for many back lit images. They were spread out, moving quickly with the current, the and lighthouse was in my way...so I ran from one side to the other to get pictures...I would look later to verify just who was in my images, but for those moments it was to get them on the camera. Tahlequah J-35 had not been seen yet, so that was the 'mission' to get her in an image...mission accomplished.
The L12s were evidently here...but one of the first whales to go by was Kasatka L-82 and that was a surprise!
 ...similar but different...

Seeing Kasatka meant that the L55s were here, at least, and they travel with the Ballena L-90, the last surviving member of the L26s. Also should be Surprise! L-86 and her offspring, the L47s - Marina L-47 and her family members, the L72s - Racer L-72 and her offspring Fluke L-105.  Many of those showed up on the backlit images.  July 31st is the ONLY day L Pod whales have been in Haro Strait in the month of July.  Glad they are here.
The whales were mixed, Js and Ls, some in very close to the shore. Dr. Otis' two interns, Amanda and Sarah, had the opportunity, since it was past the documenting hours (daily 9-5), to get all the way down on the rocks with the hope that some of the whales would come in close...the smiles on their faces gave the answer to that!

There were other whales still down island, and since the L12s had not passed by that must be them...and who was with them, but Onyx L-87!  Now that was interesting.  Onyx (see his story- link on the right column) has traveled with K Pod and then J Pod exclusively since 2006.  When J Pod and the L12s are together, Onyx will spend time with his family unit, the L12s but when the L12s turn and go back down island (that is what they usually do), he will continue up island to get back with J Pod. But this time??? The others were a couple hours ahead of this group...
...it was interesting to see Onyx L-87 with the L12s, with them being so far behind the others.  Interesting to note that over the last year, Onyx has spent a great deal of time with Tahlequah's family.
At 9:15pm calls were heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...okay, so the L12s are coming back down. But since I wasn't there I could not confirm...that is until I get a message from a friend who was at the lighthouse and who knows what Mega L-41 looks like..."Mega just went by!" was the exclamation!!

So as the day came to a close, J Pod was north, Tahlequah was still carrying her calf, at least some of the L12s had changed direction and went down island.

In addition to the many questions regarding Tahlequah, a new question has been added regarding Onyx.  Who will he be with next? 

The concern for Scarlet J-50 continues.  With the backlit issues today, it was tough just getting images and tougher figuring out who is who...but here's Scarlet with her big brother Mike J-26.
...I want to add here that it is with gratitude to the US enforcement boats, who I believe have gotten more funding from WA state for more hours on the water this season...this was before the troubles with Scarlet and with Tahlequah arose...the coordinating efforts of Soundwatch (on the water boater education of The Whale Museum), using the Whale Warning Flag at the lighthouse when whales are in the area, the enforcement boats, The Center for Whale Research, DFO (Canada Dept of Fisheries and Oceans), the PWWA captains all cooperating in the areas around the J16s and J17s and all the SRKWs, as they go through this difficult time...

...so in the efforts to get the Snake River dams removed...how about a shout-out to WA state for what is going on already...more enforcement boats, culverts being replaced to unblock fish passage...hopefully no more video of fish crossing a road with the culverts backed up...bulkheads along shorelines being removed to reestablish a natural shoreline, things of that nature are occurring...so there is good going on - Whitney and Whale Scouts, Laurie has her 'own' stream...all restoration work for helping to improve the environment for salmon to recover...
I'm sure there's more going on...but those are a few...


Sunday, July 29, 2018

7-29-18 Is It Back-to-Normal for the Whales?


Today, Tahlequah J-35 continued to carry her calf.  
This was day six.

Today the rest of J Pod returned.
Tahlequah's family came down Boundary Pass and into Haro Strait.
They passed Lime Kiln lighthouse, going down island.
The rest of J Pod came up island at the same time.
They met up.

The feelings of relief came over many of us.
Their family was back together, at least for today.

To witness them joining back up was heartfelt.
They met their friends.
They traveled north.

Is it over? Will things get back to normal?
What is 'over'?
What is 'back to normal'?

Normal is having enough food to eat.
Normal is having healthy babies, who will live a long life.
Normal is having space to live their lives.
Normal is freedom from stress.

Begin to look at these whales of J, K, and L Pods differently.
They have given the humans an opportunity to understand.
They are like us.
We are like them.

Respecting our neighbors, means respecting the whales and their aquatic world.
Celebrating these orcas is a privliege and not a right.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

7-25-18 SRKW J35 and the Loss of Her Baby

It was learned on 7/24 that Tahlequah had a newborn and the baby died. 
24 hours later, to see her still pushing the baby...

As we humans watch, wait - for action to be taken to save these whales from death, we now have Tahlequah J-35 whose newborn died. She is a mother and loves that baby. Her family knew a baby was about to be born. The rest of the SRKW community likely did too. Tahlequah didn't just accept it and move on. NO...she kept that baby with her the next day, kept pushing the baby to surface. When she passed by the lighthouse, Suttles J-40 and Star J-46 were assisting her, helping to keep the baby at the surface. Not only is she morning the loss of her baby, SHE WON'T LET GO. Neither should we. I woke this morning thinking of not only the physical aspect of her having a calf and losing it, but the stress she is experiencing. What about eating? She can't take time out to eat when her job as a mother is to protect her baby, and that means keeping that baby at the surface. Those who are assisting her are stressed as well, but doing the job that they know they must do to help her. Every member of this SRKW community is at risk and every member of the SRKW community is needed to keep this endangered population alive. My heart breaks....

The Snake River may be far away but holds a major key to restoring wild salmon runs.  The SRKWs don't have time for more studies.  They can't eat studies!  Take action, call your elected officials to get the dams breached.  

Watch the Dammed To Extinction trailer  

Monday, July 23, 2018

7-23-18 SRKW J16 Family Group

Monday, July 23rd

...the whales of J Pod have split into different groupings than they had before...we will have to wait until they return to see if they all come back in together...
...for the last few days only the J16 family group has been in these waters...and they have been going up into the Strait of Georgia and then back down Boundary Pass...

...on the night of July 21st and the early hours of July 22nd...J Pod calls could be heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...only this time it was a bit different...
...they were not seen along the west side of the island until this morning, July 23, when they all-of-a-sudden showed up coming down island...and who was it?...the J16s...

so...I guess they were the ones making all those calls the other night!

ADDED 7:25 a.m.  MAYBE NOT!  Lots of J and K pod calls in the early, early hours of the morning on 7/24!

And the Albion numbers are moving up...Chinook and Sockeye!!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

7-19-18 It Must Be a Whale Day

Thursday, July 19th
...the four J Pod whales with Onyx L-87, yesterday, left toward the open ocean today...
...the other 19 J Pod whales were still in the inland waters...they came down passing Lime Kiln in the mid-afternoon and turn and went back up island at about 8pm...


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

7-18-18 SRKWs Mixing It Up

Monday-Wednesday, July 16-18
A quick accounting of the last few days, lest I get lost in all this mixing up...I care but the whales don't...they just want salmon, please...

Wednesday 7-16
Only the 10 J Pod whales who were present yesterday, were seen today.
The J16 family of 5, and 5 of the J17 family.  It appears that Star J-46 was likely with Tsuchi J-31 or Suttles J-40 and the rest of J Pod who had gone west towards the open ocean. (fast forward to the 18th - Star J-46 was with her family.)
The J16s and J17s spent their day traveling southeast the Strait of Georgia, passing Pt. Roberts and heading toward Rosario Strait late in the day.

Tuesday 7-17
The 10 SRKWs who have been in the Salish Sea, had evidently come down Rosario Strait in the night because they were seen coming up the west side of San Juan Island where they spent most of the day between Eagle Pt. to just north of Lime Kiln.  In the late afternoon, after they had passed Lime Kiln and were at Andrews Bay, to the north, other whales - K Pod whales showed up, totally unexpectedly.  No one knew they were 'in', likely because the seas in Juan de Fuca were rough.
The whales present now totaled at least 21 (some Js and some Ks) and all went back down island.  They could be heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones until about 22:45, until drowned out by ship noise.
Wednesday 7-18
Today the total # of SRKWs was 24.  All of J Pod and one L Pod whale who travels exclusively with J Pod. 
The K Pod whales who were here yesterday were not seen anywhere today.

The whales were in Haro Strait all night on the 17th, and into the 18th, the majority of them heading north towards Active Pass.
There was a small group of five, who stayed along the west side of SJI.
Of those five, three had come up island passing the lighthouse in the morning with the all of J Pod, except Blackberry J-27...but then, about an hour later, the three - Tsuchi J-31, Oreo J-22, and Cookie J-38, left the large group and came back down island to where Blackberry J-27 and Onyx L-87 were.
Late in the day they came up island at about 9pm and could be heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones until around 11p.m., (while I was writing this post) Onyx L-87 continued vocalizing his distinctive call well into the distance.
...interesting to note...when he did this before it was like he was calling out to others, perhaps other Ls...and the following day it showed that maybe he had, because when he was seen he was with L Pod whales incoming - that was a few years ago...still gets one to wonder...so we shall see what, if anything, occurs.
Food for thought: 
Are they splitting and mixing in order to find enough food?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

7-15-18 It's About Getting the Word Out for the Whales

Saturday and Sunday, July 14/15
July 14
July 15

...the Vancouver Port Authority voluntary vessel slowdown is underway...
...Soundwatch is on the water to educate boaters to Be Whale Wise...
...lots of enforcement boats on the water...
...the scat boat is on the water to collect fecal samples for analysis...
...lots of task forces at work for a healthy ecosystem...
...and today a new addition the Whale Warrior!!!
The more people who know and understand the better the chances are of restoring not only this population of endangered SRKWs but also the ecosystem that needs so much attention to recover.

...observation...just the two family groups of J Pod in here today...one adult male, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles between ages 8 and 11, and 2 under age 4.  Perhaps with this small number they might have a better chance at finding enough salmon.   Maybe it's for another reason. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

7-13-18 It's for the Orcas and the Ecosystem

Thursday and Friday, July 12/13

Thursday, 7/12
...what a surprise!! - inbound SRKWs...and not only inbound but already coming across Haro Strait...J Pod whales and others...others who were first said to be Ls, and ended up being Ks!!  It's been a long time since seeing K Pod in here.

...it became a very mixed up day...mixed up in the way of which family groups of whales were together...you see, they split into two groups..yes, split.

...Shachi J-19 with Alki J-36 behind her, went past the lighthouse first...then came Eclipse J-41 and Nova J-51...a little way behind them were Slick J-16 and Echo J-42, but Slick and Echo didn't make it to the lighthouse before turning around and going back down island...they continued down and, along with some K Pod whales, some Js and Ks eventually went up San Juan Channel...

...the J16s, J17s, Cappuccino K-21, K16s, the K12s appeared to be the ones who stayed off the west side of the island...
...it was a busy day for many - whale watching boats, private pleasure craft, container ships, enforcement boats, StraitWatch (Canada), and Soundwatch (US)...

Friday, 7/13
...4:30 a.m. "click-click-click" echolocation clicks on the hydrophones...no vocals, but it didn't matter because some Js and some Ks were north and some were south!...which direction those whales went in the early morning hours would reveal itself later...
...they came quickly...spotted coming down from Turn Pt. the whales were passing the Lime Kiln lighthouse by 11:00...and who did we see but some members from each of the J Pod matrilines and Cappuccino K21, the K16s, the K12s, and Onyx L87.  So the ones that had stayed south last night were the ones making those echolocation clicks at 4:30 in the morning...
...by about 1:00 the K13 family group came past the lighthouse
...then at about 6pm the K14s came by, foraged in front of the lighthouse for quite a while and then continued on down island.
...seeing some large ships in the distance I took advantage to share with people about the Port of Vancouver, ECHO Program, a voluntary vessel slow down period...and it went into effect on July 12!

...but what about smaller 'ships'...like in 'boats'  whether private or commercial...well - watch for the FLAG and you will know:
...you might see that flag along a shoreline (image at Lime Kiln lighthouse) or flying from a boat or even perhaps a kayak.  When you see that flag - WHALES ARE IN THE AREA!  

Thank you, boaters, for slowing down.  
Thank you, boaters for flying the flag when you see whales - you will be alerting others too!

and at the end of the day...

It's all for the whales!
          It's all for this ecosystem!
                   It's all for your future too!

Monday, July 9, 2018

7-9-18 Little Fish

Sunday and Monday, July 8-9
...with the Southern Residents finding food elsewhere, like out on the outer coast, and the lack of gulls, and other marine life along a stretch of the west side of the island, observing what is/isn't going on at the surface or above, can be of interest too...
...I've been checking in on the Pigeon Guillemots and and hoping to see when their chicks 'flutter down' to the water...they say it's at night so I won't see that but hope to see them in the water one morning...
...at the Guillemot location, yesterday and today a couple Kingfishers showed up and got my attention...

Thursday, July 5, 2018

7-5-18 Whale Alert Was A Barking Dog

Thursday, July 5th
...I was out the door early...Transient calls, though extremely faint, I heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...

 ...here's what I got on video:

...later in the day two different humpbacks came up island at about 6:30.
...that's about the most whale activity on the west side in many days now  :(