Have You Seen Any of These?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dalls Porpoises and Orca Report to Mar 28

Mar 28 - This morning I received a report of a couple of Dalls Porpoises just above Desolation Sound around Raza Island. Sounds like they were just foraging for food.

The past two days, there are reports of two types of Orca / Killer Whales in the upper Johnstone Strait area. Transient (meat eating) Orca were seen around Lagoon Cove, close to Minstrel Island. There was a report of around 5 whales.

Offshore Orca, which are seldom seen in the inside waters below Cape Scott were confirmed to be in the Robson Bight Area on the 26th and 27th. These whales spend most of their time farther afield, and as their name implies, offshore and closer to open waters. Their vocalizations are haunting sounds that are very different to those of Resident and even Transient Orca.

Gray Whale sightings are becoming more frequent in the Victoria to Washington State areas, and the possible Humpback Whale sightings have stopped for now, but keep your eyes open for the big blows and tail flukes.

For those of you following my Hummingbird count, I'm seeing a few more Rufous Hummingbirds at the feeder, but mostly they are passing through. The Anna's count is down to three birds now with one male still around.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dolphins - Sightings to Mar 25

I can finally say we have some Pacific White Sided Dolphins returning to the area! Although it was a second hand report and received only last evening, Some ( I didn't get any numbers) Pacific White Sided Dolphins joined up with the Comox ferry on one of it's afternoon runs to Powell River to wake ride for a short time on either Monday the 21st or Tuesday the 22nd of March. They never made it as far as Powell River and there was no direction passed on to me.

With sightings of the dolphins in the Howe Sound area around Vancouver, I can assume that these ones were headed towards one of their favorite spots around Cortez and Marina Islands below Campbell River.

Unfortunately, in this area, there have been no other sightings, but this is a promising sign that these cetaceans are making their way back into our waters.

Update on other sightings from "down south": Reports of a couple of Humpback Whales showing up around Victoria, Southern Resident (fish eating) and Transient (meat eating) Orca in the San Juans, and Gray Whales in the Port Townsend area of Washington State. There are also reports of Dolphins continuing to appear on and off in the Howe Sound area of Vancouver and Gibsons.

Questions on identification of what is seen pop up regularly. The main Whales and Dolphins BC site has information on how to identify the species most often seen in our area. Click on the Species Page and follow the highlighted links to check on the individual species or use the links on the side of the landing page. To help understand the language frequently used when talking about whales and dolphins, there is a Glossary of Whale terminology in plain English on the site.

Identification is sometimes tricky. One of the most commonly mistaken for Orca - Killer Whales, are Sealions. They frequently lie on their side with a flipper up which can look very much like a Killer Whale dorsal fin. Sea lions also tend to snort out excess build up of salts and water in their nostrils when they surface for air, which can sometimes look like a blow from a whale or dolphin. It requires a bit of watching sometimes to be sure of what it is. Happy Watching!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sunshine Coast Sightings Report to Mar 17

Sightings anyone?
There is a distinct lack of activity all along the Sunshine Coast. Even to the point of lack of birds. This Non-Reporting is incredibly unusual for this area and time of year. All I can say is that I hope it will change soon.

Our weather has been rather poor, making sightings difficult, but Spring is on the way. If anyone out there has seen any whale, dolphin or porpoise activity, I'd love to hear about it.

I did however, find the Sealions that had disappeared so quickly a while ago. Once the seas settled, the log booms resumed being towed southward and the Sealions were hitching a ride March 16 and 17. Each raft of logs held hundreds of them. On one boom alone, I counted approximately 300 Sealions. The majority of them looked like California Sealions, but there were also some Stellers in the mix.

The Pacific White Sided Dolphins have been around the Vancouver, Howe Sound area intermittently over the past couple of weeks, and I heard a rumour of a possible Gray Whale sighting near Nanaimo, but there's been no confirmation.

The areas around the bottom end of Vancouver Island have just recently seen some activity with Southern Resident Orca, a few Transient Orca and Gray Whales slowly moving up from Baja, stopping in Washington State.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sightings to Mar 9 - Dolphins and Gray Whales Update

Again it has been very slow around this area, but I wanted to share a wonderful Pacific White Sided Dolphin sighting report and experience from one enthusiast. This encounter happened on March 6th around 2:30pm by Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver:

DB wrote:
"I was scuba diving and about a pod of 7 came to check me and my dive buddy out....I have been diving for over 3 years and this was the height of my diving experience to see Dolphins up close and personal." 
And additionally:
"I wouldn’t say they did anything out of the ordinary. I felt they were just curious about what we where. I am not sure if some of my scuba gear was making an odd sound that got their attention. I know when they came up to us they were directly in line with me. I would say about maybe 10 feet away.  When they took off they head straight out into Howe Sound. The pod seems to consist of 1 main Dolphin who was in the lead. The other dophins seem to hang back from her. Two were right under her fins. The other looked larger and hung back more. I am sure if I had a camera I might have been too excited to even use it."

Wow, what a truly great experience. Perhaps the mother was showing her young theses odd looking contraptions on the divers' back. They are such intelligent animals. 

Dolphins have become more frequent in the Howe Sound and Sunshine Coast areas over the past number of years. I believe a lot has to do with the clean up and recovery of our waterways which, in turn, has meant a recovery of their food sources.  The last Howe Sound sighting prior to this, that I recall hearing about, was late this past autumn. Perhaps this March sighting is a sign that they'll head back up the Sunshine Coast soon. Last year we had almost daily sightings around Powell River all fall and winter. This year, all whale, dolphin or porpoise sightings have been few and far between.

Update on Gray Whale movement from even farther South: There are two Gray Whales in the North Puget Sound area of Washington. They will continue to slowly return to their Northern feeding areas over the next few months usually via the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Southern Resident (fish eating) Orca were also spotted in the Haro Strait area.

As for my usual sightings report: Still nothing to report to March 9th. which really must change soon - I hope!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feb 27 to Mar 2 Sightings - Orca!

Even with the snow we had, we did have at least one Orca sighting! See the photo below (you might have to click on the the "Display Images" note in your web browser).

This photo originally came to me from the Orca Network, the sightings network recording sightings south of this one. They mostly deal with the south end of Vancouver Island and into the upper US. We keep each other informed in attempts to track the movements of all Whales and Dolphins.
The photo is one from Whidbey artist Rob Schouten  who made a Snow Orca (or Snorca)! on Whidbey Island, WA February 25, 2011
Photo courtesy of and thanks to the inventiveness of
Rob and Victory Lee Schouten

As for the movements of animals: There have been no sightings in the Sunshine Coast of BC unless there is someone who still hasn't passed on the information, but a Gray Whale was seen in the Seattle area on Mar. 1st, so they are on their way onto the BC coast. This month should be the month they arrive, based on historical timeframes, so keep your eyes peeled. They do normally travel along the outer coast of Vancouver Island, but sometimes come into these inside waterways.

As for my regular posting, which is far too regular lately: 
Feb 27 to Mar 2 (Actual, Live, and more Local) Sightings, I have nothing to report, I'm afraid.

Anyone else up to submitting a Snow Whale????