Thursday, September 30, 2021

Great Day Watching the Whales

...this is the morning...

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

Saturday, September 11, 2021

9-11-2021 One Kind of Joy on a Rainy Day


...and that was what the day was like...with purpose...if you wanted to see the whales on this day you needed to be purposeful with your rainy/cold weather gear and your camera/video equipment. The whales don't care, they live in a wet world.  Let's just make it so that their wet world is full of the fish they prefer to eat!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

September - Already Busy with SRKWs

This post includes Sept 5, 6 and a peek at Sept 8.

...they came up in the night (9-6/ 3:30am)...hear some of their vocalizing...

...and then they came up farther...hear some of their exhales...

...and as daylight came on the 6th of Sept. and they went back down island...

...Sept. 7 they were in Puget Sound...

...Sept. 8 they came back up to the west side and spent the day foraging in several locations along the west side. It seemed that the moms and youngsters stayed down island most of the day and did come up island but not sure how far upisland they got to. Some others passed the lighthouse only to turn and slowly work, a flood tide, back down island.

Down island a ways is where I saw the moms and calves...the water was much choppier and the whales were not in close...but I did see Phoenix J-57, Crescent J-58, and Tofino J-56-the the young one who caused WDFW to issue an emergency ruling to help the whales have more quiet time away from the noise. I'll wait for the drone researhers for information about Tofino.  In the all you can do for their ecosystem, because that is the SRKWs' home. 

What I saw on Sept 6 and again on Sept 8, needs a great big Thank You to WDFW on scene and SoundWatch on scene all day redirecting boaters to move offshore or stop and 'stay put' or whatever it is they do, because it was effective! July 6th was a very busy day, today July 8th was not as busy but they were there to see to it that boaters followed the 'rules' and the whales' space was protected.   

On Sept 8th I was glad to see Tofino and her mom near the other moms and youngsters...was surprsied to get a few images...this is just the first in the sequence as Tofino was surfacing tight to her mom's side.

..The whales were spread out and foraged pretty much all day on the 8th. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

8-25-2021 L54s and L-88 Surprised Everyone

 This post includes 8-25 and 8-30



They went down island...but a few hours later they came up island.  They could be seen off the web cam at the lighthouse going north.