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Sunday, October 15, 2017

10-15-17 The Whales Came In and They Ate!

Sunday, October 15, 2017
...a sunshiny morning, no clouds for the day...by noon there were whales coming up island!
...what a surprise and it was J Pod too!...and the L54s and Nyssa L-84 and Wave Walker L-88 had come in with J Pod and Onyx L-87.  Now that is extra special...
..Nyssa was way far offshore when I was first taking pictures...I had no idea it was him until I looked at my images later!
...a while later he was foraging in one direction while Mike J-26 was going in the opposite direction...

...there were salmon and that's why the whales were here today...perhaps again tomorrow but that's 'salmon dependent'...

...it was about 12:30 when they were off Lime Kiln...spread way out - inshore and up to a couple miles offshore...they were spread from the north to the south...eventually the last of the whales passed by at about 1:30...







...whale watching boats were way north but they weren't going too far...
...



...there was a disturbance to the encounter...it was a boat that was coming down island very fast and it wasn't paying attention.  In the State of Washington, just in the last couple months they passed a law about Distracted Driving...how about making a law against Distracted Boaters.  This is about the closest I ever seen...
...it took the boater a few minutes to slow down, well, actually he stopped and watched the whales...at one point I was feeling that people, including me, on shore shouldn't have motioned the driver the slow down, but you can't just sit there and watch a potential problem happen or do you?
...when he decided to leave he started up and went 'at speed'  - sort of like peeling out of a parking lot...looks like there needs to be some education about noise pollution too...

...back to enjoying the whales as they continued down island...

...when I last saw the whales they were a good way down island and so were the purse seiners...wonder where they will be in the morning...same place?

...if you saw Southern Residents today, consider it very fortunate...the whales need salmon filled days more than just once in a while...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

10-7-17 Salmon and Floodgates-CBC News Article

Saturday, October 7th



This article is one of the most 'concrete' pieces of 'cause and affect' that I have seen. The next best piece would be to act on it.

This is from CBC News, posted on October 4th: 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/fraser-river-salmon-impacted-by-floodgates-according-to-new-sfu-study-1.4327377

~~~
The Southern Residents want Fraser River salmon, and it is said that they want the Chinook because they are the biggest.  This fall the Chinook took a bump up in #s returning, that is for several days.
The Southern Residents also eat Chum salmon.  At about the same time, Chum salmon took a much bigger bump up in numbers, and those numbers are staying pretty strong. The Albion test fishery chart from Sep 7 - Oct 6:  Chinook 192 to Chum 1,134 and they are only setting test nets every other day.

Last I know of, J Pod was many miles north of the Fraser...that must be where the salmon are - coming back to the Fraser via the north.

added 10-13:  J Pod did come down a couple days ago and went west. 








Friday, September 29, 2017

9-29-17 Day 12 of J Pod Here in the Inland Waters

Friday, September 29th
...on Thursday, the 28th, J Pod was in Puget Sound and the L Pod whales were on their way west...
...and then, on Friday morning, J Pod was leaving Puget Sound and heading...which way???...Up!...ever so slowly...it started out as a calm morning...
... by mid-afternoon it was still nice at Lime Kiln, but I chose the wind and went down island to see if I could find the whales in order to know which way they were going...when I did see them it was from the big pull-out/overlook just south of South Beach...well, actually I saw their splashes mostly...it was windy with very rough seas...

...with binoculars (always have your binoculars handy) of course...what a blast it looked like they were having in those rough seas...they get very surface active in seas like this - sometimes, that is...
...then up island, hoping they were continuing that direction too...

...I stopped a few place along the way to see if they were still coming up...yep!...
...-then on to the park and wait...while waiting with a few other people, we watched one person, who was waiting at the south end of the park...since we couldn't see behind that huge rock that person was standing on and we could only see the person's legs, because the person was blocked by a tree...but that person gave us an indicator...
...then some others appeared...someone near us asked, "Who are they?"  I replied with, "Those are what you'd call an 'indicator species'!"  Sort of how some people tell me that when they see my car in town they know there are no whales on the west side!...well, this time these indicator species were letting us know that whales were soon to appear. Thanks!!

...it wasn't long before I heard the first call...the seas had gotten rough up here too and the lighting was unusual, which added to the challenge of finding the whales who belonged to those vocals I was hearing...
...here's what it looked like when you looked up...like wow!
...and Alki J-36 burst through the surface at just the right moment when the lighting on the water was astounding...

...I could see some of the J16s going by...then I saw Alki J-36 a ways behind them and with Alki, it looked like Suttles J-40 was with them...Blackberry J-27 came by...and a few others...but then it got dark and time to head for home, quickly, so I could listen to the hydrophones...
video


 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

9-27-17 Adjusting to Change

Wednesday, Sept 27th

This is long, but there's lots the whales had to 'say'...no pictures, just observations...

Sometimes it takes a while to adjust to loss and move ahead. That's sort of been my week.

...not only is there on-going concern for each and every member of the Southern Resident Community, at the forefront right now is Sonic's (J-52) family...and especially his mother, Alki J-36...

At the end of the day on the 26th the whales were slowly heading down from the Fraser River and the next morning...well, there were many options for them as to where they might be. 
...I had the car loaded with my gear and was ready to go, but I couldn't decide which place to begin...it was only 7:00am...weighing my options over the next several minutes I got a 'voice mail' from the whales!  One faint J pod call - it was 7:15 a.m. and I was out the door...
...made it to the park and got there in time to see whales more than a 1/2 mile from shore, going up...I could see a group who looked like the J16s and did see Nova J-51 and his mom, Eclipse J-41...
...behind them a ways were Racer L-72 and Fluke L-105...they were spread out...
...eventually I could see others and it looked like maybe they were coming up from Eastern Bank???...not sure, but just way offshore...
...this was the beginning of what would be a 4 hour encounter...puts a smile on your face, helping you to know that the whales will keep on going.  Of course they will, they have to and the humans are not making it easy for them in finding their food.

...some whales could be seen down island...some friends arrived and said they had seen some close to shore...so we waited...but the whales had another idea - food! - they were foraging a lot - good!
...some did come up...Lapis L-103, Moonlight L-83 and their two kids - Lazuli L-123 and Midnight L-110.   Though the seas were choppy and the whales were a good distance from shore watching Lazuli doing back breaches, spitting water as he breached, tail waves - well, he was quite the character...I actually got a belly shot of him.

An interesting combination of whales was Kasatka L-82, Suttles J-40, and Tsuchi J-31...gets me curious, especially because the drone folks from the Vancouver Aq. mentioned that Kasatka appears pregnant AND because both Suttles and Tsuchi have been seen on multiple occasions with pregnant moms, moms with a new baby, or a grieving mom who had just lost her baby...
...so is that Suttles' and Tsuchi's ..well, is that their assignment?  cause for pause on that one...

...over the encounter I did see at least one member of each of the family groups of the L26s, L4s (L55s and L86s), L72s, and L47s, but I didn't see either of the J22s...I'm sure they were out there...just not in my view...

...most of the males were not in the vicinity of where they could easily be seen from the lighthouse, or at least by my camera...of course except for Onyx L-87 - he was way offshore and didn't appear to be with any specific group...

...some of the whales went north, and eventually turned and came back down island...the last of the whales showed up off the point north from the lighthouse...they moved in along the edge of the cove...they didn't seem to be in a real tight group...
...then directly in front of the lighthouse they surfaced - as Shachi dove then Alki surfaced, Shachi and Scarlet surfaced in unison, as did Slick and Echo, etc...they were on the edge of the kelp!
...now this gave my heart pause...Shachi J-19, Alki J-36, Scarlet J-50, Slick J-16, Echo J-42 and also as who appeared to be 'escorts' - Racer L-72, Fluke L-105 and Onyx L-87...Slick's oldest, Mike J-26, was the very last to pass by and he was about a 1/2 mile offshore...
...seeing Shachi, the new leader, with Alki - grieving mother and her family (but not Mike J-26)...reminded me of Granny J-2 and how she tended to her clan members when one was in need...just one example was after Rhapsody J-32 died, Cookie J-38 spent time with Granny, something that was very uncommon.  And the first couple times he was tight to Granny's side.

...after they passed the lighthouse I took off and got down island about a mile...when the whales reached there, the tight group had already disbanded.
Seeing that and looking back on how they approached the lighthouse and how  they surfaced directly in front of the lighthouse, well, there was something more to it than just a group of whales passing by.
...as someone said, everything the whales do they do with intention.  I believe they know the presence of beings at the lighthouse, but what exactly we'll never know...
...did they want to let us know things were going to be okay?
...did Shachi want to demonstrate something she had learned from Granny?
I haven't a clue, but it sure touched my heart.

...later the whales did not come back up island, but instead were heading south and west...
     
 

Monday, September 25, 2017

9-25-17 In Memory of Sonic J-52

Monday, September 25th
The Center for Whale Research announced today that Sonic has died.
 
...In memory of Sonic J-52...
...the reason I mentioned 'blaming' is that so many people are looking outward to lay blame for problems when they might do better to look inward and take responsibility, no matter what the issues are...

...when this little baby was first seen...oh, my, what a day...link to the first post of new baby, Sonic J-52, in 2015...
...a few additional memory images...




...something to think about when you watch the whales of this endangered Southern Resident Community...
Rest in Peace little guy...all our hearts are sad that you are gone.

 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

9-23-17 Take A Moment Let the Orca Draw You In

catch up on their whereabouts and then Take A Moment
Monday - Saturday, September 18 - 23
...J and L pods showed up unexpectedly in Puget Sound on Monday the 18th and stayed down in Puget Sound for most of Tuesday the 19th...trending north and feasting on salmon as they went (so the word was)...

...and then at 2:45 a.m. Wednesday the 20th they woke me up over the Lime Kiln hydrophones...they continued north and were seen later in the morning and were heading toward the Fraser River by early afternoon...

...the Albion test fishery had a bump up in Chinook salmon numbers on the 18th...they are testing every other day now...so since Sept 6th, the next several counts averaged about 10 Chinook each...then a jump up to 39 on the 
18th of Sept., 20 on the 20th, and 31 on the 22nd...
...39 isn't much but it's almost 4 times more than in those recent counts...
...the Chum salmon also took a jump up in count...from 11, 15,13, 13 to 46...then to 67 on the 20th and 48 on the 22nd...
          and...It Rained just before those jumps in counts.


...Thursday, the 21st, the whales stayed up near and north of the Fraser River...it seemed they might be heading down but no confirmation...

...Friday, the 22nd, a bit after 8 a.m., the L12 subgroup came down island...Spirit L-22 and Solstice L-89 were the first two to pass at the lighthouse...next was Calypso L-94 and her two offspring - Cousteau L-113 and Windsong L-121...and way offshore was Mega L-41...
...I learned later that the rest of the L12s were out there with Mega...

...later in the morning the other L Pod whales, who had also been north with J Pod the day before, were located up north, but J Pod was not seen anywhere all day!

...this morning, Sept 23rd, a large group was seen coming down Rosario Strait...they made better time than I thought they would, and they actually started to come up the west side by mid-afternoon...normal, historically, but not normal for 2017.


...and Shachi J-19 (the new leader)  was in the lead!  Go Shachi!!
...behind Shachi were Hy'Shqa J-37 and her offspring, T'ilem I'nges J-49...
...it looked like Suttles J-40, J-37's little sister was behind then...
...and then Eclipse J-41 and Nova J-51...

...but soon they all moved offshore, appearing to be foraging, and eventually traveled back down island...
...from a couple miles south of the lighthouse house I could see whales a mile or more offshore, and several down near False Bay/Eagle...it was about 6pm...
...the only direction at the moment was from those offshore, who appeared to be heading back in and down island...

Take A Moment... and think that you are standing on a hill above the waters of Haro Strait.  The water is completely calm, not a sound, no cars, no planes, no talking, just you...and you hear a blow "kerhhh".  
You look in the direction, but you see nothing, just calm water.
You know the sound will not reach your ears until after the whale has disappeared from view, so...
You remain still.  You listen.
"kerhhh".
This time you keep your eyes on where you heard the sound.
"kerhhh".
There!  You see the orca.  Yes, the whale is far away, but the sound of his/her being has drawn you in. 
You wait. You hear it again and this time you know right where the whale is.
Then you hear another who sounds much farther away. "kerhhh."
You could stand there until you hear no more sounds, so you do.
Peace has taken over.


...sleep fast and rest fast...it might be an early morning...that is if they don't wake me up over the hydrophones in the night :)


Monday, September 18, 2017

9-18-17 It Rained!

Monday, September 18th

...last night (Sunday) it rained...and this time it was more than just a sprinkle...

...this afternoon Southern Residents showed up in Puget Sound!

...was it the rain that caused salmon to move in and therefore the whales behind the salmon?


...in years past it was the norm for the whales to head to Puget Sound in September, to check out the the salmon availability...though in years past they used to leave the San Juans and head to Puget Sound...

...they came in today...let's see what they do...

...hopefully all those in boats on the water will be respectful of the whales and allow them plenty of space and quiet to live their lives and seek out food to sustain them.

...it is an exciting moment after a long and sparse summer for salmon in these waters....today there were several 'bait balls' (gulls, diving birds, and bait fish)...things are beginning to move again...
...maybe the next rain will bring salmon in this northerly direction, toward the Fraser River...they are needed for four years from now, to keep the cycle of life of going.

...may there be enough salmon for all - SRKWs, for spawning, and for the other 135+ species that rely on salmon for their well being.

A few links you might find interesting:
Why Protect Salmon-Wild Salmon Center 

WDFW publication

Wild Fish Conservancy

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

9-13-17 Spectacular From A Distance

Wednesday, September 13th
...when I learned that the whales were coming down San Juan Channel...well, I had to head that way...it isn't common to see them coming down and exiting Cattle Pass...I wasn't going to miss it!
...it's not uncommon to see the Transients on the far side of the channel, but today it was going to be the L Pod whales who were way, way, over there...
...had they been really close I wouldn't have seen the people and would have likely missed some of the action...






...then they exited Cattle Pass and headed offshore and up island...
...by now they were really far offshore...

...however, there were a few who were quite close in at South Beach...the first time I've ever gotten an image from there...
...then on up island the whales went...but they didn't get all the way up before they changed direction, spread out, and eventually headed south...
...while sitting in a chair seeing the whales from a very, very long distance, a mystery captain broadcast some of the calls over the hydrophones...
...not very good with my cell phone, but realized I could take video of the calls...and while holding the cell phone - ha! - I got my shadow too...
...well, thank you mystery captain, you brought the whales right to me!
video

Monday, September 11, 2017

9-11-17 L Pod Whales Came Back In

Saturday - Monday, September 9-11

9-9
...early on Saturday it rained and it rained for a good portion of the morning...
...no whales...
9-10
...but that night, in the middle of the night (like 3a.m. on Sunday), I was awakened to those 'fish burp' sounds....first time I have heard them in a long time...there were several in a row and a couple more a while later...
...and then, it was a surprise to learn that some L Pod whales had shown up...it was a small group of L Pod whales and they spent the day down off the west side of the island...

9-11
...the next morning it was out the door early, hoping to locate the whales...after scanning for close to an hour, I turned and began to walk back to the car...it was then, I stopped, "that was a blow" (I had just heard)...very faint, but it was an orca!
...back to the outlook and there were two big males, one female, about a 1/2 mile offshore, heading directly for the shoreline and angling down island...I immediately called the Center for Whale Research...then I scanned farther offshore...and there were more coming across! - definitely Residents! 
...no matter how many times I find the whales, especially like this, it just never gets old...
...as I was watching them I heard a blow off to the up island side of me - yikes! some are already heading up island...off and running now :)

...I wasn't sure who was here...the hydrophones were recording but didn't have access with me...and sometimes it's more intriguing to let them show me...
...and soon they made their way up...





...who went up island were Racer L-72, Fluke L-105, Marina L-47, Mystic L-115, Moonlight L-83, Midnight L-110, Muncher L-91, Magic L-122, and Crewser L-92 and his aunt, Ballena L-90.
...those two big males I had seen belonged to some of the L12s, who spent the day down island, spread out most of the time and foraging over a wide area...

Interesting to note that the L4s from the prior day were seen heading toward the Fraser River and were reported to by at the North Arm of the Fraser by the afternoon...
...and by the end of the day the 10 L pod whales who had gone north, were still going north...they usually travel with the L4s...
...will they meet up and come back down together?
...are the L4s splitting off?...is this the start of something new for these L Pod whales...
...as usual...the next chapter may reveal more...

 



Thursday, September 7, 2017

9-7-17 Catching Up Over the Last Couple Days

Thursday morning, September 7th

...first, backing up to Sept 4, when J, K, and L pods came in:
...on that day, as they crossed Haro Strait on their way to the west side, they were very spread out...some were too far offshore to determine exactly who was present...there was, however, a mix and some crossed over and to just south of the park before going north...
...Scoter K-25 was one of them...I did get a look at Mega L-41, he and likely the rest of the family were way offshore and going up island...
...Sequim K-12 and her family had come across and eventually went up island...

...some of the K12s passed the lighthouse...then came Shachi J-19 - you know the trending leader...behind her were Eclipse J-41 and her offspring, Nova J-51...and not far from Shachi was Hy'Shqa J-37, Granny's great-granddaughter 

...I was hesitant to post about that because there were J Pod whales way ahead of these, who were over a mile offshore...so...was Shachi becoming the matriarch of just the J14s family and not the rest of J Pod?...they like to keep it confusing!
...a few images from the evening of the 4th...



...many L Pod whales came north at nearly dark...at home I heard them over the Lime Kiln hydrophones for close to an hour...

...the next day the whales were up north of the North Arm and actually one report from a boat said they were north of the city of Vancouver...wow! -see footnote at end of the post.

...on Sept 6th the Residents were at the top end of Haro Strait (Turn Pt, Stuart Island) at about 10:30 and passing Lime Kiln at about 12:30...
...ahead of them were some Transients, two separate groups...one group (the T65As) coming down ahead of the Residents and another group (T10s, T101s, and possibly T109s - but not totally sure) coming up from the far west side of Haro Strait (I think they had come around Discovery)...they were way in the distance and but we could see them from shore...as the T65As got closer, the group that was coming up Haro turned and headed back where they had come from...both groups of Ts had 'left the area'...
...did they hear the Residents and decided to leave?...did they get word from the T65As that it was going to get 'crowded' in here?...no one knows for sure but it sure made for some interesting wondering...

...and then came the Residents...and were they ever vocal!!
...in the lead was Shachi J-19 !!  Whoo-hoo!!!!
...behind her were Eclipse J-41, Nova J-51, Hy'Shqa J-37...and behind them were T'ilem I'nges J-49 with Suttles J-40...and offshore from Shachi, in one of my pics (not included in these images) was Mako J-39...



...some began porpoising...
...a whirlwind of whales went by and others began approaching...
...two who were together...
...one a bit offshore surprised everyone with an awesome breach, one of those that seems to linger for a moment before landing...and one that likely few were ready for...and then another one breached...a juvenile...sweet!
...many more images which I'll save for another day...

footnotes:  It was heartwarming to read the Center for Whale Research's encounter summary from 9/4, when J, K, and L pod whales were in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, when Ken Balcomb wrote that Shachi J-19  "who seems to have taken over as leader"  yay...I don't have to say 'trending leader' any more! What also was heartwarming was that he stated the whales were 'frisky and appeared in good condition' ...which I translate as that they have been eating well during their long time on the outer coast.  That's what is most needed, that they survive.  
Now if anyone wants to see the Southern Residents in these waters more, then this eco-system needs to get cleaned up and healthy.  

I looked back at blog posts from 2013, same time frame, and the same thing was occurring...interesting to note that the pattern repeats...of course, the salmon run in cycles.

here are a couple 2013 posts you might be interested in...I find that I am saying the same thing this year as I was 4 years ago. Granted, I am no expert. BUT - why is there so much talk and so little action?!

Sept 3, 2013 Was It Another One Day Visit?
and
Sept 4, 2013  Food Today!
and
Sept 8th, 2013 North to the North Arm! (interesting to note that on this encounter in 2013 the whales were at the North Arm of the Fraser.  And on Sept 5, 2017 they were actually north of the North Arm of the Fraser.)