Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Look for Blows & A Very Vocal Humpback


November 19
The whales were spread across.
Not uncommon for them this year.

They went into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then seen a few days later in Puget Sound.

On November 20
An unusual Humpback encounter.
It was during the day.
The Humpback vocalized for over 6 hours that day.
BUT the Humpback was never seen!    Really!
With calm seas an exhale from a Humpback is quite obvious, even from a great distance. 
Some people, including me, had heard it over the Lime Kiln hydrophones and got to the Park asap, because they were 'sure' that the HB was right off the lighthouse.  No one saw the it!
Here's a short sample of some of the vocals heard from this fella.

Friday, November 19, 2021

11-18-2021 The SRKWs Returned Again

A nice surprise to hear extremely faint J Pod calls early in the morning.  And so the day began.  And those calls got louder and the day more interesting...

November 18

..listen to what may have him getting a scolding or say 'he was just having some fun'

11-16-2021 SRKWs in Haro Strait

SRKWs on the west side in late October & early November

October 24

October 26

November 16

Sightings of the Southern Residents increased in October and now in November.
Most of the encounters the whales have been farther offshore but that's where the salmon mainly are.  And therefore, that's where we should want them to be - eating!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

10192021 Humpback Expressing His Opinion


In the early hours of today...a humpback was heard over the Lime Kiln hydrophones.

At first he seemed to be distant...then 'at'  the hydrophones.  This is cropped down to get the great parts, so there is a tiny pause early-on to eliminate when he wasn't making any sound.

It seemed like he was checking out the hydrophones and working on them too! (joke).  

Sounded like he had a hammer! (toward the end)

Enjoy...it sure has me smiling!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Who is Onyx L-87 With Now?


A year has gone by. And this year, at least for a while Onyx was with the L subpod which consists of several matrlines.  Who specifically among those? I think the answer is, 'only he knows for sure.'  How would we know since they haven't been in the inland waters much at all this year.

The whales travel is changing, social groupings are changing and social groups are different, more so than in years past...  1) when there were more intact family groups, 2) when there were more whales in the entire community, 3) when they were here on a consistent basis as they 'used to be' in the spring, summer and fall, 4) when they didn't have to spread out for miles in search of food, 5) when there were fewer interruptions to their own personal lives, etc...

We know more of what they aren't doing than what they are doing.

For example, even though he was with that L subpod earlier in the year, word was that recently Onyx showed up with J Pod.  HOWEVER, it wasn't clear if he was the ONLY L Pod whale present.

We know that he has 'connections' with each pod, as they all do, but he seems to have a different connection.  Could it be from him having switched pods several times that he 'has connections' with each? Could it have anything to do with him having been with Granny J-2 (the matriarch of the SRKW community until her death in 2016) when she was still alive?  Did he receive some kind of 'status' from that? (just grasping at straws here.)

Only the whales know for sure.

All I know is that I care and I hope you care and want these whales to survive and to recover from the downfall that has been occurring to their community for the last several years. Actually it's more than just several years.  When I first came here in the late 1990's the SRKWs were being referred to as 'like the canary in the coal mine'. 

If you don't know what 'like a canary in the coal mine' means then please look it up.  It's serious and it matters.

May Onyx live long and keep us wondering.  Hopefully enough people will see how important all the whales in the SRKW Community are that they are willing to change what they are doing to help them recover.

Thanks for reading this, if you did.

Jeanne Hyde

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Great Day Watching the Whales

...this is the morning...

...when the whales came up island in the afternoon...

...it was another day of 'how it used to be'...and can be again if we give the whales the quiet, non-interruption and space they need to find the salmon.  Yes, wild salmon stocks need to be restored and until there is an abundance of salmon we need to do all we can to give the whales all the room they need to find what salmon there is. Thank you to all who are heeding the call to help the whales.  You do not go unnoticed.  You are appreciated for the respect you show the endangered SRKWs. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

9-17-2021 Early Morning SRKWs

Foggy and rainy but not yet windy...good, because there are whales on the hydrophones! That was early this morning.

The first part are K Pod  'kitten sounding calls' then a slight break and J Pod calls. These would be common to listen for when learning to distinguish between these two pods.  Listen for the difference tone. To me, K Pod is higher pitched than J Pod. (note: this morning there did not appear to be any L Pod calls.)

They were spread out as they came down Haro Strait, some foraging as they moved down island.  Some were so far off shore they were barely visible. But that's what they do these days. 

No matter how distant seeing the SRKWs is always special.  And since they are already wet it was okay for me to get wet too!

Thank you!...J and K pod whales for the gift of your presence. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

9-15-2021 Early Morning Orcas-She Watched In Awe

It began shortly after 7:00am...SRKWs on the Lime Kiln hydrophones... I was now off an running....

She was quietly watching...it was obvious she was 'with them'...such a treat to see someone seeing their first Southern Resident orcas and be in total silence as they slowly approached one after another...

...soon her mother came on scene and she watched her daughter...no doubt she too was taken by the whales but also taken by how focused and silent her daughter was while watching them.  

...the first whale she saw approach was Onyx L-87...

...coming up island a bit closer than Spock...

...she and her mother couldn't stay all day but they both may have had an encounter that wasn't expected...the whales have a way of doing that, you know.
...J, K, and the L Pod whales who were here went north...and in the afternoon J Pod decided to come back down island...
...it was a 'like it used to be' day...but it isn't then it is now...the whales have been spread from north to south and across Haro Strait in search of salmon...

...a look ahead since I'm far behind on my posts: the last few days the whales were in here there was some 'heavy duty' active salmon chasing (and hope catching) going on!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

9-14-2021 Unusual Encounter with SRKWs

It was unusual in a few ways. 

Not that they were spread all across Haro Strait.  That has become common. 

But unusual in seeing:  no J Pod whales, 8 K Pod whales, and 5 L Pod whales, when there were actually 60 SRKWs present.

And to go along with that there were many K and L Pod calls and only a few J Pod calls, way in the distance.

The visual and the acoustic helped put it all together.

There was also something that, for this year, was unusual.

With all the information, publications, on-line and TV information about the importance of respecting the whales' space...there was one person, in what looked like a river kayak, who actually left the shoreline and went out and was turning one direction as they saw a whale and then turning to 'follow' it and then turning again another was spotted..

So what's the big deal?

Become an orca for a few minutes here... 

"I use sound, I use my echolocation, I use my communication with other orcas as I navigate my waters.  So when I see a 'log (aka kayak)' on the water I make note of the object.  I now have something to pay attention to.  Usually a 'log' bobs along with the current so it's no big deal.  But when the 'log' keeps changing direction I now have to take time away from my foraging/travel/watching out for my little ones, etc. to make sure that 'log' doesn't get too close.  There isn't any noise from that 'log' but it's not normal for a 'log' to act this way. And it sure gets in the way of my chasing after a meal when I have to pay attention to an 'unreliable' object."

Just because you don't have a motor does not mean you have no impact on the orcas' world.  Staying tight to shore in the kelp, out of the path of the whales, a person still gets to 'be there' with them without disturbing the whales.

In this instance it was sad to see a person on shore encouraging this behavior.  So it opened the door to have conversation about what had occurred.  Hopefully there is greater understanding by one more person. 

Think of the whales first, please.  

This is their home and not ours.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

September Stays Busy with Southern Residents

It has been a very busy several days...

Most important to note is that WDFW has issued another emergency ruling, today Sept 13. This time one that brings hope coupled with concern for the 3, yes, three who are in late-term pregnancy:

Alki J-36, Hy'Shqa J-37, and Shachi J-19.

The whales have had a difficult time over the last several years. Maybe them having spent an unusual amount of time along the outer coast has provided the food, less disturbance and quiet needed during this later portion of their 17 month gestation time. 


J Pod was already here and spending time up near the Fraser River. K Pod and some L Pod whales - Onyx L-87, L-90, the L55s, L86s (including new calf L-125), L72s, and the L47s. K and L pod whales came in on Sept 9th and met up with J Pod and they all went north toward the Fraser River. 

(Not present were the L12s and the L54s, which is not uncommon, as these two groups often travel on their own and sometimes come into the inland waters by themselves, as the L54s had done the last part of August and into September.)

Since I'm far behind in all this...here are a few images from the most recent sighting along the west side which was on September 12...It began at around 6a.m. hearing the whales over the hydrophones and then seeing them which was almost an all day event, a reminder of how it used to be for the whales. Here are just a few images of the morning portion which lasted until at least 11 a.m.

They were spread from in close to far offshore, eventually they all went down island. Some came back up island later in the day.