Saturday, April 24, 2021

4-24-2021 When You Can't Quite Figure Out Which SRKW

April 24th, Saturday

A few tidbits for when you can't quite figure out who it is you saw.

The dorsal fin and saddle patch are the key identifiers of orcas. Most of the time they can be identified by one or both.

In addition there are nicks and notches (not included in here) some with tiny nicks and a few with notches, take Notch J-47 for example.

Below are additional things to look for that might help you when looking at your images. scratches on the body; highlighting an image to see a blemish more clearly; the mouth line is sometimes unusual, and the eye patch, to name a few.


Friday, April 23, 2021

4-23-2021 How Far Can an Eagle Turn It's Head

Thursday, April 23rd

Took a drive around on the last sunny day, for the next few. First stop was at one of the pull-outs along the west side. A few birds way in the distance came into view...at first I thought bald eagles but there was something different.  They were really distant flying over the water a good distance from shore, so lots of 'dot shots' and back-lit too, so hopefully my images would give me some clues. When I looked...yep, bald eagle or two and 3 or 4 vultures.


I left there and then stopped on the upper pullout from Lime Kiln.  It was too nice to go back inside yet. There is a tree down below and across the road where an eagle, and sometimes two, will sit. And today there was one.  This was a very alert bald eagle.  Here is the sequence of how responsive to even distant noise, this eagle was.  Of course we know they are but it was interesting to watch how far the head rotated.        Images are from left to right.  Notice the middle image on the second row...the eagle might have been reacting to the sound of my camera! A few minutes later there was noise coming from the left of the eagle. So back went the head back the other direction. 

I had to look it (how far they can rotate their head) up to find out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

4-21-2021 Transient Orcas

 April 20 and 21

The T090s and T049A3

Tuesday, April 20 - Just a few looks of them as they crossed the top of San Juan Channel and entered Spieden Channel, which they later circumnavigated.




Wednesday, April 21  - They stayed in the area!  On this day they were spotted in Spieden Channel and instead of circumnavigating Spieden Island like they did yesterday, this time when they came west in Spieden Channel they turned south between Henry Island and Roche Harbor and continued through Mosquito Pass exiting into Open Bay, just outside of Snug Harbor.  Very slowly, taking long dives, they continued south in Haro Strait, at first somewhat close to shore.

I was watching this harbor seal who was very focused on what was going on out there.  Was it the amount of boats, barely moving that caused this intent watching or was it because the seal knew there were orcas out there? 







Saturday, April 17, 2021

4-17-2021 SRKWs and Transients Comparison Practice

Saturday, April 17
...this is a re-post...

...many people have asked, "how do you tell the difference between an SRKW (Southern Resident Killer Whale) and a Transient?"

...one of the people who asked this question and who caused me to get a bit creative is a gentleman who lives on a nearby island and has had, in the last few years, many killer whales pass by where he lives...
..he had come into the lighthouse and was asking questions and taking notes on what to look for and he was using post-its...so I called him Mr. Post-Its - (I'm terrible at remembering names, that is unless it's an orca's name.)

...well, Mr. Post-Its told me that when he was younger he wanted to be a marine biologist but his life took a different turn and added that it has been all good...so, I suggested that now was his time to use some of his training from years ago and be that marine biologist, right from his front window...
...so for Mr. Post-Its and anyone wanting to see some of the differences, here's a general comparison sheet to help you get started...or as a refresher...

...and now here are some practice whales for you...
...these are only a sampling...but might give you an idea of some of the general differences you might see...












...the answers...you'll figure them out...sometimes you have to look for those 'tiny things' that will reveal - Transient or Resident?



Some have asked for the answers:
#  1 R
#  2 T
#  3 R
#  4 T
#  5 T
#  6 R
#  7 T
#  8 R
#  9 R
#10 R
#11 T
...fun stuff! 

Added:  Below are Southern Residents. Some individuals have a kink or twist to their dorsal fin that can sometimes help in identification or add confusion as to who one is looking at. 
How their fin tip looks from one side is the opposite of how the fin tip looks from the other side. One of the 7 images in the set is going the opposite direction as the others.
A few examples:

Some can look very different depending on the angle.
 
Each orca is an individual, not only in their dorsal fin shape, saddle patch markings, eye patch markings, nicks/notches or scratches, they are each individual in their personalities.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

4-3-2021 J Pod Again in San Juan Channel

Saturday, April 3rd

To just about everyone's surprise, J Pod appeared just outside Friday Harbor, almost a repeat of last Saturday.

We waited at Reuben Tarte Park as the whales were slowly moving up.  as we waited...

...the J16s moved offshore and ahead of others who were approaching closer near the shoreline...

...then the J19s veered off a bit...others with them and more were closer to shore...

...as this was unfolding, from resting to waking up...someone in the offshore group, breached; seconds later someone in the closer to shore group and much farther behind breached...then a few more surface actions - from one in the offshore group and another from the group farther behind and in closer.

...Shachi J-19 spyhopped and then multiple tail slaps...Shachi seemed to be the main one repeatedly tail slapping... - Waking up from resting? - Sending messages to others? - Asking questions? (which way are we going, up President Channel or into Spieden)...or giving a command (We are going into Spieden Channel, follow me, please!)








...It was Mako J-39, Blackberry J-27, and Tsuchi J-31
...close pass - Tsuchi and Tofino J-56
    
...Cookie's dorsal fin is so tall it looks unusual on his short body.




...it was a surprise of a day...great to see J Pod !