Have You Seen Any of These?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Southern Resident Orca J-Pod, Unidentified Killer Whales, Humpback Whale and Dead Dall's Porpoise

The majority of activity since our last update has been surrounding J32 'Rhapsody' the pregnant Southern Resident Orca and her calf found dead by Bates Beach, just above Comox on Dec. 4th. Unfortunately we are not sure if the Unidentified Killer Whales by Powell River were some of the Southern Resident population or Transient Bigg's Killer Whales (most likely) passing through. Reports of at least one Humpback Whale in the Lund area have also dwindled since December 6th.

The initial necropsy reports of J32 and her calf indicate that: the calf appeared to be full term, the calf was female and predeceased her. It appears that since the calf predeceased J32 she could not expel the fetus thereby causing a great amount of toxicity in her body leading to her death. Her blubber layer was also thinner than expected causing concern about her overall health possibly causing some health issues in her ability to deliver the calf. Further tests and results will take more time. Parts of her have been sent to various locations for CT scans and testing. It is planned to have her cleaned bones put back together for display much later. We have included many links below from news reports and a preliminary necropsy report link. On our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WhalesDolphinsBC we have, behind a warning page of graphic content, posted necropsy photos. Although these photos are not for everyone, they are made available for purposes of study to those of you interested or considering Marine Biology.
Susan MacKay & Lynne Cracknell, Whales and Dolphins BC
Have you seen a whale, dolphin or porpoise?
Call 1-877-323-9776 or Email your report.
Every sighting report is valuable!


J32 'Rhapsody' – RIP
Aug. 27, 2014 photo
Garry Henkel, Aboriginal Journeys Whale and Bear Tours

December 12:
Great day on the water. Spend the day watching the majority of Jpod booking it West 5 km off Sooke BC. They were spread out across Juan de Fuca Strait and traveling at 12 knots. Also had three humpback whales traveling and socializing in tight formation. Brisk day but nice to be out on the water.
Josh McInnes, Victoria

Dec 4:
With word of a dead Orca on the beach near Bates hotel tonight I loaded up my camera gear, tape measure and lights and was off as soon as I could. Arriving on scene was a surreal experience. I drove right down a boat launch ramp and as my headlights swung around and she came into view I was utterly blown away. I first heard reports of a possibly 10-12ft animal....seeing right away it was full grown I was amazed. I immediately got my lights set up and went to work taking photos for ID purpose and documenting everything I could find. Measurements showed it to be approx 16ft in length. I first thought sprouter (juvenile still growing it's dorsal) male until studying the belly longer. Was determined to be a female. I went through my Transient ID Catalogue, Northern Resident Catalogue and soon realized we were possibly looking at a Southern Resident Orca. Thank you to Simon Pidcock and Jared Towers, of DFO for the ID's and confirmation. (That she was J32 'Rhapsody' of the Southern Resident Killer Whales.)
Nick Templeman, Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions

December 3:
According to a resident near the Bates Beach Resort in Royston, several Orca had been seen offshore at some point during the day. This would likely be J pod, who are often seen in the Strait of Georgia during the winter months.

J32 'Rhapsody' – RIP
Aug. 27, 2014 photo
Nick Templeman, Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions


Dec 5:
8:23 am: Three to four Orca northbound off the Powell River Sea Walk. They're quite tight into shore.
9:00 am: Five or six Orca now on the move, and out of sight as observed from the Westview Harbour. I'd grabbed my camera hoping to get at least a couple of photos, but they were just too far away now. I only saw small dorsals, no big males.
Steve Grover, Powell River.


December 6:
12:00 pm: The Humpback whale is still here in Rasmussen Bay today, December 6th. The Sea Lions were by, but not feeding with it today, so far...
Mary Tilberg, Lund

December 5:
9:30 am- 10:30 am: This morning the Humpback whale came into Rasmussen Bay itself (south of the Copeland Islands) and was feeding for quite some time. I only looked out around 9:30 am and saw it then, along with an entourage of Stellar Sea Lions, all very active. I had to leave for town around 10:30 am and they were still feeding back and forth in the bay.
Mary Tilberg, Lund


December 13:
Everyone's heart dropped at the report of a small Orca washed up on the beach in the San Juan Islands after J32's death. It turned out to be a Dall's Porpoise and the photos clearly show how they sometimes are mistaken for small Orca. This animal, it appears may have died of old age, based on the teeth having been ground down over years of foraging. The necropsy is being handled in the US and should be started by December 15th. Cher Renke stood guard and provided photos, until Ken Balcomb and other researchers could arrive.
Susan MacKay, Whales and Dolphins BC

Ken Balcomb with Dall's Porpoise on South Beach, San Juan Islands
Dall's Porpoise
December 13, 2014 – 2 photos
Cher Renke, Friday Harbour


We have very sad news this report with the death of Southern Resident Orca J32, also known as “Rhapsody.” Rhapsody was just 18 years old, and was pregnant at the time of her death, a double blow for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale populations.
Two other whales from the same population, L100 and L53, are thought to have died sometime this summer, while the calf L120 died two months ago. The southern resident population now stands at 77 members. We have several links to news stories concerning J32's death, as well as some preliminary findings from the necropsy. Please be aware that some of the photographs taken during the necropsy are extremely graphic and may be upsetting for some.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research in the US has posted a preliminary necropsy report findings on J32;

May not be a Porpoise that lives right in our area of monitoring, but the Vaquita Porpoise is extremely endangered. This video clip is also something to consider for our Harbour Porpoise populations; they are considered "species of special concern" by Species At Risk Act (SARA).

Study guages plastic levels in the ocean:

Have you seen a whale, dolphin or porpoise?
1-877-323-9776 or Email your report.
Every sighting report is valuable!
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