Have You Seen Any of These?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Northern Resident Killer Whales, Southern Resident Killer Whales and Pacific White Sided Dolphins

What a pleasure to finally see the Northern Resident Orca known as the A42's back in the area where the calf A103 'Albion' was born, Powell River. Since we had so much tidal debris such as logs in the area of Malaspina Strait, any whales that passed were out on the Georgia Strait side of Texada and Harwood. Now that the debris has dissipated, we are finally getting whales back in the areas closer to shore from where we seem to receive the majority of reports. Southern Resident Orca, J-Pod, as of today are also working their way up Malaspina Strait. We have had so few sightings reports come in and we had been feeling left out (LOL). Some other Orca, Pacific White Sided Dolphins and Links in the News complete this report.
In the meantime, we have also been working hard with our Society Annual General meeting coming up. We'll look forward to updating you soon.
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!


A66 'Surf' shows off beautiful tail

A42 'Sonora' in middle with two of her offspring

Northern Resident Orca – A42's
January 14, 2015 – 4 photos
Susan MacKay, SG Images

Jan 14:
1:59 pm: 5 Orca off south west corner of Harwood Island, no apparent direction yet. Just popped up in front of CG Cutter, Cape Caution.
Eric Green, Powell River

January 14:
2 pm - ish: I grabbed gear and headed out to see about some ID's. Huge thanks to crew of the Cape Caution who pointed me in the right direction off the end of Harwood. Rounding the point towards Vivian I picked up the A42's. They stayed quite close to the Harwood Island shore slowly working their way around the island.
3:35 pm: After dropping the hydrophone, I heard some very distant Orca vocals which were definitely not Northern Resident calls, but couldn't quite hear enough over a distant boat to tell if the calls were Transient Bigg's or Southern Resident calls. I scanned out towards the center of Georgia Strait and spotted a couple of big dorsals in the distance, but too far to tell any more than that. I tried the hydrophone a few more times. It was quiet except for a very few faint squeaks and clicks of echolocation from the A42's. They behaved as if they were hiding staying tight to shore all the while.
4 pm Just off Harwood Spit now still continuing around slowly. Left the 5 Northern Resident Killer Whales A42's tucked right up to the south-east corner of Harwood Island shore across from the Powell River Mill. It was a cold, but gratifying run out on the water.
Susan MacKay, Whales and Dolphins B.C.

Northern Resident Orca – A42's
January 14, 2015
Elaine Sorensen – taken from CG Cutter Cape Caution


January 15:
Satellite tagged J27 with the rest of J-Pod have found their way back up Malaspina Strait and with their last position noted close to the Lang Bay, south of Powell River area. Map and information courtesy NOAA where you can find additional information including the prior map showing their travels in the Georgia Strait up past Savary Island and to Cape Mudge and back down the Strait: http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/cb/ecosystem/marinemammal/satellite_tagging/blog2015.cfm

Jan 14:
3:35 pm: Got more Orca out in the Strait closer to Vancouver Island. I think they are Transient Bigg's but the calls are too distant to be 100% certain. (Note: This sighting has been moved up to Southern Resident Killer Whales based on the above update although there is a possibility that the calls heard were Transient Bigg's - SM)
Susan MacKay, Whales and Dolphins B.C.

Southern Resident J27 Track
January 12 - 15, 2015


Jan 5:
3:30 pm: I saw approximately 6 Orca swimming between Entrance Island and Gabriola Island, probably less that 1/2 km out. You could see them clear as day. They were headed towards Nanaimo, north bound. There was a cluster of 5 or 6 varying in sizes and one large male, this guy was really big, following behind them. I don't know enough to give you more information. They were beautiful to watch.
Is there a way to tell the difference between Resident and Transient? They didn't appear to be hunting just swimming past. There was however a seal on high alert as they swam by. The seal is actually how I first noticed them. Usually the seals in that area bob up and down and watch me on the rocks. I have noticed the last month or so that there are fewer seals in that particular area. I did find a dead one on the beach a few months ago. The seal popped his head up but was looking out instead of at me, he only stayed up for a few seconds then went under. When he came back up he was stretching up as high as he could to see. That is when I saw the fins as well. I walked away in case he was scared to jump on the rock with me there LOL. I didn't want to see anything if it were going to happen. The whales showed no interest in the seal or me. They just swam by at a pretty quick pace. Hopefully this helps a bit.
Angela Prive, Gabriola Island

In response to Angela's question:
Not an easy answer to your question. It takes a keen eye since they look so similar. Many Transient Bigg's have more triangular / pointed shaped dorsals, but not all. Many of the Southern Residents have open saddle patches, but not all. It takes really knowing the animals and seeing and studying them over time, and even then we can sometimes be fooled until we verify with a photo and compare their scratches and markings to the identification catalogues or manage to hear them communicate by means of a hydrophone. There are well over 300 Transient Bigg's, 78 (now with J50) Southern Residents, and over 300 Northern Residents. Then we sometimes get a few up from California in the winters and spring to really confuse us!
Susan MacKay, Whales and Dolphins B.C.


Jan 4:
9:55 am: My husband and I were sailing from Nanaimo to Gibsons on January 2nd 2015 and at 1:45 pm we believe we saw a pod of Pacific White Sided Dolphins. I would estimate there were over 100 Dolphins. At first we thought it was a giant wave coming towards us and were pleasantly surprised when we saw the playful Dolphins. It was a great way to start the year. Thought you might enjoy these videos. I have also attached a couple of photos. The photo are gps stamped as well if that is helpful.
Kaitlin and Dave Ellis S/V Cutty Too.

Pacific White Sided Dolphins
January 4, 2015 – 3 photos
Kaitlin and Dave Ellis S/V Cutty Too


A great piece of video showing the new SRKW baby J50 traveling with J pod through Admiralty Inlet in Puget Sound on January 10th. The video was taken by Alisa Lemire Brooks.

How important is it to get the garbage out of our oceans? Very important, as this National Geographic video will show; a 45 foot long Sei whale was killed by a discarded CD case:

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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