Have You Seen Any of These?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Humpback Porpoises and Sea Lions

April 30:
A few blows and a back of what appeared to be a Humpback Whale slowly moving in a Northerly / North-West direction in mid strait between Sliammon (just north of Powell River) and Harwood. I watched between 10 and 10:30 am then spotted it again, a short distance North, close to Atrevida Reef around 11 am still continuing towards Lund / Savary.

While in my back yard around 4:30 pm I could hear Sea Lions barking - probably from the Powell River Mill. It's odd to hear them from that distance.  After getting binoculars, I couldn't tell what disturbed them, but certainly did not see any big Orca dorsals. Being the weekend, they may have been disturbed by a boat fishing that got a bit too close.

 At around 5:30 pm out in front of Powell River heading Northward, I also spotted around 5 to 6 animals porpoising with the distinctive splashes of Dalls Porpoises. While watching, I did see a couple of small dorsals and then they disappeared to re-appear at quite a distance off. Lost sight of them close by Harwood Island.

No other local reports of sightings today. Maybe they are all watching hockey too!!
Susan MacKay Whales and Dolphins BC

And from farther South:  

Transient orcas, Orcas off Newport, OR, a Minke whale, Gray whales and Risso's Dolphins, Porpoise and sea lions.
Below submitted by: Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network
Note: Risso's Dolphins do, occasionally make an appearance in Canadian waters, but the sightings are few and far between. It would be great to see them up in our area of the Sunshine Coast. Susan MacKay, Whales and Dolphins BC  
April 30
What a fantastic Saturday, huh? We were blessed with Transients (I think the T137's, T65A's, and T37's if I remember correctly...) in the Strait of Georgia heading toward the coal docks near Vancouver at approx. 13:00. They were moving quickly north (with a couple occasional abrupt, milling halts) and were in two fairly tight groups when we saw them. Great day to be on the water - lots of that sunny stuff that has become so rare around here ;)  Thanks, Katie Jones, Western Prince Naturalist
April 30
So, we finish the month as we started, with transient orcas cruising the waters usually patrolled by the residents. Today, a group of 10-12 transients was located in Georgia Strait at approximately 12:30, about 3 nm north of Tumbo Island. They were traveling northwest, at a fairly fast rate of speed, sometimes porpoising. The group consisted of females, juveniles, calves and 1 sprouting male. We were able to identify some of them as the T65A group and the T137's, T137A being the sprouter. The orcas were traveling in two groups, with T137A and some juveniles lagging about 200 m/yards behind the moms, and engaging in a fair amount of social activity. At one point, the group stopped and was milling in one area for about 5 minutes, then continued on their speedy way. We left the whales still heading north to northwest, west of the Tsawassen ferry terminal.
Joan Lopez, Naturalist, Vancouver Whale Watch
April 30
Had hoped to kayak on Whidbey today and hope for whale encounters, but I stayed home in Port Townsend Bay, lucky me. At 13:45 paddling from Rat Island toward town we encountered a gray whale heading northeast, it fluked and resurfaced West of us. Continued to see it until about 14:30, it was swimming all around the bay, South to Kala Point, then popped up just a few feet off the NW Maritime Center Pier very near shore as we loaded our boats. Last sighting was headed East around Pt Hudson.
Sue Long, Port Townsend, WA
April 30
I got really lucky and witnessed 4 or 5 pairs of mother / calf Gray whale combos making their way north very close to shore from above (a pullout on Highway 1 about 400 feet above the ocean just south of Grimes Point - where there's a sea lion colony on the rocky beach at the base of the cliffs). The whales were in close enough to be able to see them underwater,10:30am through 11:30am or so.
One interesting aspect to this is that at one stage, a Risso's dolphin (there was a small pod of them further offshore) came and swam between two whales (that looked to be about the same size - so not sure they were mother /calf), and both whales rolled on to their backs, then rolled back on to their fronts again and carried on.
Most (if not all) of the combos turned around a couple of times and seemed to hang out in the kelp - rather than just constantly head north - I wondered if that meant they were hiding from predators or something, but I only saw the Risso's in the area, nothing more sinister. Is that normal behavior for the grays? Thanks, Tim Huntington

Friday, April 29, 2011

Orca Sightings and Whale Updates to April 29

April 29:
AJ was out on the water today running a water taxi from Campbell River. We spoke a few times during the day with hopes that someone would locate the Orca, thought to be Transient (meat eating) Killer Whales he spotted early in the morning. All my scanning the waters around Powell River produced only a sighting of a couple of Sea Lions. This is his email this evening:
Hey Susan,
I never did find those Orca. So here's my sighting report.

0740 Apr 29 2011
3+ Orca North Bound from April Point resort on Quadra Island

Keep scanning! And work hard! :)

April 29:
Also hear rumours of a Humpback Whale arriving from the East (from the Sunshine Coast up Johnstone Strait) into the upper Johnstone Strait area. Maybe the whale I saw a few days ago?
Susan MacKay Whales and Dolphins BC 

April 27:
The A5 pod of Orca we had down here previously made their way back up Johnstone Strait and into Blackfish Sound. late in the day.
Susan MacKay

April 28::
Transient orca reports from the San Juan Islands, as well as Orca reports from South Africa!
Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network 
April 26 from South Africa:
We spotted two large Orcas ( at least - may have been four) yesterday 26 April 2011 at about 4.30pm off Plettenburg Bay, Western Cape. They were fairly close to shore swimming from Lookout Beach and round across Robberg.  I think they were disturbed by motor boat and kyak at got close to them. They then moved out to sea. Just prior to spotting them there was a huge school of smaller dolphin moving in the same direction. I would love to know if a sighting in this area is unusual and if this pod was migratory.
Regards, Susan O'Keeffe
And Gray Whales:
April 28
We saw two gray whales in front of the house--north end of Beverly Beach--about 5:15 this evening.  Neighbors to the south reported seeing three; they have a better view.  Whales making their way north, feeding, blowing and rolling. 
Sally and Tom Cahill, Whidbey Island, WA also submitted by:Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Whale and Porpoise Updates April 27

With all the excitement of having Northern Resident Killer Whales in our area the other day, I did forget to post the updates from farther south. I also apologize to Roger Jennings who kindly contributed the A Pod photos. In case some of you didn't catch it, I called him Peter....well, it was a newsworthy report.

In other news April 27:
A small Harbour Porpoise stranded on Salt Spring Island has been taken into rehab at the Vancouver Aquarium by members of the Marine Mammal Response Network. A timely reminder that if you see a marine mammal injured, in distress or dead, please call 1-800-465-4336

The last report I received regarding Orcas came in yesterday from Bill T. He was walking his dog down close to the water around 10 pm on April 25th south of Powell River close to Myrtle Rocks when there were a number of blows. Since it was so dark and his dog was afraid of this unrecognized sound, he could not get closer for a count on the exact number of whales, but based on the reports, we can only assume it was the same pod known as the A5s. They were very slowly moving southward, almost drifting with the tide.
Susan MacKay Whales and Dolphins BC

A5 Pod of Orca taken April 25, 2011 in the Yuculta Rapids
Photo Credit: Roger Jennings

April 26 & 27:
No sightings reported in the Powell River Sunshine Coast area.

April 26: From the US:
More J pod reports in the San Juan Islands, Transient orcas in Puget Sound, up north in the islands and Monterey Bay, and a Gray whale report, along with porpoise,  and sea lions in Penn Cove. 

April 26
Nice morning over here on the Marrowstone side. Finally saw a Gray Whale. Just after 7 a.m. this morning as I was walking south from East Beach. The whale was feeding immediately off the cemetary, then moved south along where there is a nice long sand bar and eelgrass flats that forms north of Nodule Point.
 I stopped at the Nordland Store to tell anyone with interest, then went to the cemetary to see if I could see the whale from above. No sign of the Gray, but there were three, maybe more Harbor Porpoises slowly moving east and across the channel not too far south of Nodule Point. 
Lots of seabirds moving around this morning and a huge armada of Surf Scoters - with the usual bands of Redbreasted Mergansers dining on "forage fish" nearshore. Seals hauled out on the rocks and a sea lion quite a ways offshore at East Beach. Peaceful waters. Getting ready for the next round of those trouble makers you all want to see! The Marrowstone Table is set for more Orcas! 
Ron Hirschi, Marrowstone Island, WA  submitted by Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Northern Resident Orca Sightings April 25

More Orca sightings today. The weather wasn't quite as nice as the other day, but the water was calm. The big surprise is that these whales are from the A5 pod of Northern Resdient (fish eating) Orca. We haven't seen them around for a while so it's quite exciting. After the last report, I kept scanning the waters, but could not locate them. If they passed by Powell River, they hid pretty well. Some photos below from earlier today by Peter Jennings..
Susan MacKay - Whales and Dolphins BC

April 25:
Around 4:30 pm 8 or 9 Orca spotted just past Dinner Rock (north of Powell River and just below Lund). They were resting on the surface then slowly moving southward and disappeared.
From John and Joan on Savary Island

April 25:
Hi Susan
We are at Bliss (North of Lund) and saw some whales or dolphins today. Judy says they were Orcas but I think they were too small. I think they were white sided dolphins They came right by our place. Have you had Orca reports lately?
John B.
Hi John,
Yes we have - 2pm by Yucultas and 4:30 pm by Dinner Rock - had to get by you somewhere along the line. They seem to have disappeared - possibly back up your way???? Please let me know.

April 25:
Hey Guys,
I saw some Orca today at 1340 in the Yuculta Rapids. I'm quite sure they were the same as the ones Jack came across on Saturday around Waddington Channel. Here are some still pics them.

(Photo credits: Roger Jennings)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Transient Killer Whales April 23

April 23:
Reports of Orca Southbound in Lewis Channel just below Teakerne Arm around 11am. They slowly moved down the channel to just above the Copeland Islands, locally known as the Ragged Islands.The weather was almost summer-like, and flat calm water to boot!

The Campbell River Whale Watching tour caught up with them around 12:30;m between Kinghorn and Mink Islands in Desolation Sound. There were 10 or more animals in the group which were probably the Transients that had been working their way down Johnstone Strait April 21st. Later in the afternoon, the whales headed Northward up Waddington Channel and were last seen around Church House on Stuart Island just below the Yuculta Rapids.
Susan MacKay


Friday, April 22, 2011

Transient Orca, Porpoises - April 22

Transient Orcas this morning at 8:20am by Powell River, only two were visible at any time with the big male being either T054 or T093. It was difficult to tell for sure - they were not staying on the surface very long. They did cruise by some sea lions, and were on a head on course for the porpoises reported by Myrtle Rocks. I kept hoping for a turn back up this way, but nothing. 
Susan MacKay Whales and Dolphins BC

April 22:
Two Orca reported just south of Powell River at 10:40am. Some resting and continuing slowly southward. by Bill T. and
That was really awesome watching those two orcas slowly cruise by.  Then, two or three deep blows and out of sight.  Awesome. by William D.

April 22:
Good morning.  I'm here to report that there is a small  (6 or 7) group of porpoises just off Myrtle Point close to shore traveling north towards Powell River.  Quite dark in color, not the light grey like others, but small and rounded dorsal fins. They would be at or about Myrtle Rocks right now.  8:45 Friday.
From William D.

April 22:
2 or more Transient Orca spotted right out in front of the Powell River Ferry terminal at 8:20 am. Thanks to a call from Gladys who was lucky to see one breach. I picked them up continuing on a slow roll towards Grief Point. Since they were close to shore, I couldn't get a definitive count on them, but one large male and one, possibly two females.
Susan MacKay Whales and Dolphins BC

Other reports: Grays by Whidbey Island, a Minke, and, of course Transient Orca, also in US waters
from Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network and
Yesterday, April 21st T23's (more Transient Orca) heading down (south-east) Johnstone Strait.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Humpback or Gray Whale April 20

April 20:
Around 4:30 pm I spotted a blow close to the Texada Island side of Harwood Island. After rushing upstairs for the binoculars and staring out at the water for a while, I determined I was seeing things. That is, until I saw another blow by the reef off of Blubber Bay, where the Texada ferry docks. Then, over a period of time, another 5 or 6 blows by one animal. No sighting of back or tail flukes, and looking at the size and shape of the blow, I lean towards it being a Gray Whale rather than a Humpback. I lost sight of any blows close to the Texada shore around 6:30pm. Calls to a few other people with slightly different vantage points yielded no other sightings of the animal till I saw one more blow, still no back or tail flukes, back by Rebecca Rocks at a little after 8pm. It's nice to have enough light so late now.

No reports of other whales, dolphins or porpoises around the Sunshine Coast today, but they must be out there.

Orca Live from the upper Johnstone Strait area had one report of Transients today:
Wow more transient excitement this morning! The T023's came back heading North in Blackney. They attacked a sealion about 100m off the lab and were very vocal throughout!!! They have now left view still headed North. They did not kill the sea lion and he seems ok as I am watching him now about 30 m off the lab. There have still been a few intermittent calls.

And from Orca Network in the US:
April 20
4/20/11 - About 7 Orcas actively feeding off southwest end of McNeil Island for 10 minutes starting @ 0815 (est. 47 deg 12 min 00 sec X 122 deg 43min 40 sec). Maybe one male and at least three young. Seen from Mahncke Point. Departing direction unknown. Two of our four resident eagles and about 10 seagulls went  out to clean up the scraps.
Kurt Anderson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Transient Orca, Dalls Porpoises - Sightings to Apr 19

Guess my intermittent sightings of blows was something! We've had Orcas spotted in the Powell River to Vancouver Island area for a number of days. We mostly seem to spot them when they appear to be going in a southerly direction, but I do believe they turn around and are some of the same ones spotted over the past few days.....Great reports everyone - keep up the sightings to share.

April 19:
4 Orca spotted by Grief Point, Powell River. They appeared to be in stealth mode, disappearing for long periods of time. They were close in to shore heading towards Beach Gardens Marina. One larger male and one juvenile in the mix. I watched to see if they'd come closer to Westview, but nothing till too dark. Since we've had around the same number for the past few days in the area, they may be Transient (meat eating) Killer Whales that have found a food source too good to leave.

April 19:
Heard a report from Hurricane Jack, Campbell River Whale Watching, of some porpoises earlier in the day by Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island, off Capbell River... could have been the same Dalles Porpoises from an earlier report.

April 19:
Hi there. A FB friend, Laila (last name removed since not provided directly by person named), gave me this site after seeing a couple photo's I took of 3 Orca's while at the Beachgarden's in Powell River today. They were heading south. I think I may have seen the big male you mentioned. He is huge.From Wendy P.

April 19:

HI, we just saw 3 Dall's Porpoises heading north into Thulin Passage, at the beginning of the Copeland Is Marine Park, just north of Lund. It was a positive id as there are no other Whales or Porpoises with their distinct white tipped dorsal fin. Exciting!! From Anonymous at 10:45 am
April 19:
Not really sure how to report to you but did post a comment on one of your blog posts.  There was a pod of orcas heading north on Sunday, April 17th we spotted them off of the Beach Gardens around 3:40 pm but way out there.  At least 6, including one very large male from what we could see through the scope.  They looked to be feeding, disappearing for 5 minutes or so and then reappearing in same area.  A couple of spy hops from the smaller whales then they slowly headed north, so I texted my friend and she spotted them off the 5 pm ferry to Vanc. Island “close enough to touch”.
Love the updates, thanks, Margaret
I haven't put my phone number on line to this point, but as I replied to Margaret, if anyone sees a whale, dolphin or porpoise, I would love a phone call as soon as possible to work together on these sightings, and possibly get some ID photos if they're in the area. My number is 604-485-9138
And, From the US:
Transient orcas  today were reported in Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound, heading south, as well as some up by Patos Island and more reports of what sound like small Transient pods up further north in BC. Also several Gray whales have been wandering Saratoga Passage and Holmes Harbor today, and reports of Grays off Port Ludlow, WA and Lincoln City, OR as well.
Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network

Monday, April 18, 2011

Orca and more Orca Reports to April 18

April 18 - No reports today, but again I thought I saw a blow during one of my scans of the ocean....keep looking, they're out there.There are many Transient (meat eating) Killer Whales along our coast right now. They do seem to be everywhere from the US to well into Johnstone Strait.

April 17 - There were at least 3 Orca right around noon including at least one large male moving quickly, with lots of splashing Southbound in front of Powell River towards Grief Point. Could not get a definite count from anyone.

April 17th Report:
The Transient orca "superpod" is still swimming around the Strait of Georgia and the San Juan Islands- we have several reports of them from the past several days, including Graeme Ellis' accounting of the ~31 Transients that were in Sansum Narrows and Ladysmith Harbor on  the 15th.
Also a report of Offshore orcas off the California coast, Pacific White Sided dolphins in BC, and Gray whales around Whidbey Island.
 From: Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network

April 16 - Just heard of a report -We had transients at Oyster Bay - 3 pm and then Salmon Point - 5 pm on Saturday. This is between Campbell River and Black Creek on the Vancouver Island side of Georgia Strait.

April 16 - Just hear of another report of 6 Orca entering in Havannah Channel around 4 pm near the top end of Johnstone Strait from Bill and Donna MacKay who operate MacKay Whale Watching out of Port McNeill on Vancouver Island

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dolphin Sighting - Orca - Grays - Humpback Update to April 16

There is a slight change to the email updates which are now going out very late at night so that I can include any evening reports of the day and it will be in your email InBox first thing in the morning before heading out on the water.

April 16 - I swear I saw a couple of large blows and backs a number of times during the day, but could not confirm what it was that I saw. The last few times spotted was between 6 pm and 6:30 pm working from the South end Rebecca Rocks in front of Powell River towards Vivian Island. Maybe towards Mittlenatch Island? The only thing for sure, is that this was not Orca, and based on one very large blow, I would hazard an educated guess that it was from a Humpback. No tail fluke sighting, so ..... keep your eyes open and let me know.

April 15 - Around 5 pm I spotted between 10 to 12 Pacific White Sided Dolphins moving with great purpose. They headed Northwest from the Powell River side of Rebecca Rocks out towards Vivian Island and into Georgia Strait.

I had received two calls during April 15th of possible sightings of dolphins or porpoises, but could not get any confirmation.
The Transient (meat eating) Orca that we had in front of Powell River appear to have headed down around Salt Spring Island and joined up with others. Great report below.

April 15th:
From Salt Spring Island:
This was the most stupendous day in my life at Bold Bluff! My neighbour across the (Sansum) Narrows phoned to say the whales were coming past my home shortly before 10AM, so I grabbed my camera and life jacket and dashed out in the whaler with Daisy, my dog. I followed two orcas for an hour. One had a tall wobbly dorsal fin and the other a small one - probably a male and female. Often they dove and rose together, as if in a ballet. I followed them for an hour, all the way to Cherry Point at Cowichan Bay and left them there, heading south.
On my way back up Sansum Narrows right at Burial Island to my amazement I saw gigantic splashes and action - wow! A big gathering of more orcas where the seals haul out. There were whales everywhere: spy-hopping, jumping, slapping their tails and flippers, dashing here and there crossing over each other and having a grand time. It seemed like there were a lot of babies! I had not a clue whom I was watching, (but I knew I could find out later by phoning you!) My memory card ran out just when I reached the scene of action, so I zoomed home to fetch another card, and my two pruners who were working in the orchard. It didn't take much to convince them to join me in my big boat.
Wow! Is all we could say. The whales were super active, and it FELT as if they were chasing food but we never witnessed their surfacing with a big morsel in their mouths. Altogether I stayed out with the whales for 3 and a half hours. Once they surrounded my boat, circling around me (I had taken my pruners back to work!) and I got nervous. Were they asking me to leave? Were they curious? Was there a poor seal hiding out beneath my boat? Two Steller Sea Lions looked very scared. They were heading towards shore with their heads high out of the ocean, looking back towards the whales.
Brr! I was COLD! So back at home with a cup of hot tea, I phoned you to ask if anyone had reported the whales and knew who they were. Thank you for getting to Ken Balcomb and John Ford! Graeme Ellis and John came down from Nanaimo, and Simon Pidcock came out from Cowichan Bay. Graeme indentified them as Transients, and I am sure he will send you a report of exactly who was playing in the Narrows for so long. Simon stopped by this evening and said he saw a huge carcass on the surface - a sea lion, so they WERE dining! I got some superb photos, too! What a blessing to be living at Bold Bluff, with a good neighbour who phones to let me know the whales are here. I was just heading out the back door to clean the Garden Cottage with a bucket of rags when she phoned. I would have missed the entire show if Joan hadn't called at the precise time she did.
Tamar Griggs, Bold Bluff, Salt Spring Island, BC
Report from Susan Berta and Howard Garrett of Orca Network on Whidby Island, WA

April 15 from Steve:
I thought I saw something in the water this morning but I guess it was current lines and a small standing wave.  Guess I'm looking too hard.  I did see a flock of about 200 snow geese passing overhead and honking away.  Flying north so they must know some decent weather is coming. 
From Jack:
I'm getting anxious to get into my boat and go searching for dolphins.
Maybe soon -Thanks for the reports

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dolphins - Orca - Humpback - Minke Updates to April 13

Report in from an Anonymous follower:
April 13 - My fiance saw about 100-150 dolphins just outside of Gibsons BC yesterday April 13/2011. Unfortunately I did not receive any information on direction of travel or time of day.

April 13 - No other reports from around the Powell River area and no idea where those Transient Orca got to.

From the US Based Orca Network:
Again, an astounding variety of species reported in the past two days! Several Transient orca reports in WA and BC, including a large pod in the San Juans, another sighting of the Humpback whale in Puget Sound, a Minke at Hein Bank, Porpoise and sea lions in Saratoga Passage.

And thanks to Cascadia Research and the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network for working with us the past several days to respond to a dead Gray whale that was discovered on a remote beach on Whidbey Island Saturday evening.  We typically have several strandings of emaciated Gray whales in Puget Sound each year - those that are just too thin and weak to make the full migration back north, that  don't seem to be aware of the feeding areas frequented by our "local" North Puget Sound whales that come back to feed for several months each year in Saratoga Passage and Possession Sound.
Susan Berta and Howard Garrett, Orca Network

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Orca Sightings April 12

Apr. 12 - 4 to 6 Killer Whales, probably from the same group of Transients the other day, were spotted between Rebecca Rocks closer to Harwood Island and heading out towards Vivian Island around 5:30pm. Their breaching and splashing gave their position away. From John and Joan

From Steve, about his April 11 photo of the Transients posted on this Blog yesterday: 
I did look carefully at the High res version that looks like it is eating a sea lion and I think part of a front flipper/thumb is also visible.

As many of you know, my time on the water with whales tends to be in our upper coastal regions, so if any Whale Watching Tour operators close to the Vancouver or Victoria, BC area would like me to forward their link information, please email me with it. I will happily pass it on. Read below:

From Leyla in Europe:
A friend of mine here at the office is maybe going to Vancouver for 10 days in July and was wondering about whale watching. First, I'm not sure whether July is a good month, but second, is there any place they could get to from Vancouver in not too much time, since their entire stay is 10 days? I think they could probably travel for a day, stay watching whales for a day, then come back... but I thought you might be able to advise best!

My reply:
For your friend, there are a number of whale watching tours run out of Victoria. July is a great month to watch whales - Orca (Killer Whales) at least. Mostly the Humpback and Gray Whales have moved to their main feeding grounds farther up the coast. Occasionally, some stay down around there, if the feed is good.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Transient Orcas April 11 Grays Update

April 11 - After the report of 5 to 6 Orca coming in my direction yesterday around 12:30 pm, I quickly got a few things organized and headed out to find them with a neighbour. We spotted them rounding Grief Point and were surprised to see so many blows. There were around 16 of them spread out from Texada Island to the mainland.

With them being so spread out, it was quite difficult to figure out who they were other than Transient Orca. Dropped the hydrophone in and not a peep. At least at the start. Later on they became quite vocal - a typical Transient Orca trait. Paced one group, at a safe distance - all boats are required to keep their distance - close to Harwood Island in front of Powell River. The other group with one or two males continued up towards Atrevida Reef area.

The group we were with had two calves, one of which was having a great time porpoising clear out of the water. They continued to breach, roll around, tail lob and spy hop. Lots of missed photos - if only they'd be more co-operative. Having stopped the skiff and drifting, it was wonderful that they came over to investigate even surprising us by surfacing right beside the boat.

Although we didn't see them actually take any porpoises or sea lions, one photo looks like there is something in one whale's mouth.

These three photos are courtesy Steven Grover
who wrote:
"Lots of fun yesterday!  Most of my shots were near misses but I got a few."

After having such a dry spell with no whales or dolphins, this was a wonderful day! The wind and water picked up a bit and the sun went behind a large cloud, so left them around 4:45 pm.

For updates on the Gray Whales, which are working their way up the coast, check out the update reports that come through the US based Orca Network The Grays are along the West Coast of Vancouver Island as well, but I don't have information on those ones yet, other than they are around.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11 Orca and Dolphins or Porpoises

April 11 - Just in...at 12:30 pm 5 to 6 Killer Whales spotted just South of Powell River close to Myrtle Rocks headed Northward.

April 11 - 9 am 4 Dolphins or Porpoises spotted by Myrtle Rocks slowly headed in a Northbound direction towards Powell River.

Hello Susan;
I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your blog and that I really appreciate receiving it, even though it has been so quiet out there this last month.

This morning four dolphins went by Armour Rd.  and at about 9:00am would be at or around Myrtle Rocks.  Is this the type of information that you are interested in hearing? 

Am I able to tell which species of dolphins they would be by the numbers and their behaviour, as they were moving very slowly compared to others that we have seen?

Hello Bill,
Thanks for the input. Yes, this is the type of information needed, and it would be great if you could give direction of travel....it's a big coast and they travel all of it. Also, since not everyone would know where Armour Road is without looking up on a map, including me I'm afraid, the identifiers of Black Point, Myrtle Rocks or Point, Grief Point, etc. and if they were closer to Texada or the mainland side would be the best. This ties in with the marine charts and makes in clearer to those who travel the coast and from other locations. I have people from as far away as Europe following the blog. When in doubt, any information is better than none.

If you're in doubt about the species, my main website Whales and Dolphins BC has information on species with descriptions and photos to help identify the animals. Pacific White Sided Dolphins are grey and white and have curved dorsal fins whereas porpoises' are triangular shaped dark brown to black and for Dalls porpoises they may have white on the dorsal. All of these animals can move slowly, taking their time. As for their behaviour, yes, sometimes it is from the behaviour that it becomes obvious which species, but other times it can be difficult without seeing some detail, please read up on the web site.
Susan MacKay

Friday, April 8, 2011

Killer Whales and Sea Lions April 8

April 8 - "After I talked to you on Friday evening, we spotted a pod of whales harassing a sea lion, just off the government dock on Savary. We stayed with them from 7 pm until dark, and they spent the whole time circling, bumping and smacking a single sea lion. The sea lion was still alive when we left. There were four orcas - two appeared to be smaller. I have lots more pictures and a video if they're of any use to you."
Sean Percy
Sales Manager/Associate Publisher
Powell River Living Magazine
Three Transient (meat eating) Orca photos below courtesy Sean Percy:

April 8 - A late report of Orca was called in by Sean: There were a total of 6 Orca seen as two groups of 4 and two, by Vivian Island just off of Powell River travelling towards the Vancouver Island side of Savary around 5pm. There was at least one large dorsal and one had an "L" shaped notch on the trailing edge of its dorsal about 5 inches down. Hopefully a photo is to follow to possibly ID the whale.

And Earlier:
April 8 - 4 to 5 Killer Whales (Orca) milling about by Baker Passage between Hernando and Cortez Islands around 1pm.

The report came from a tug boater who passed it on to one of the Campbell River Whale Watching guides who gave me a call on the marine radio - thanks! This passing of information gives a great sense of where these animals go.

The first tour of the season for the Campbell River guides was April 7th. They spotted lots of Steller Sea Lions on Jimmy Judd Island in the Yuculta Rapids area. On their nature trips, they normally look for the first Spring bears and their cubs to show up at this time of year, but the late snowfalls and cold weather have delayed some of the grassy areas from sprouting much in the way of tender shoots near the shore.

I know there are some bears out and about since there have been some reports of bears in the Mowat Bay (Powell Lake) area of Powell River. No reports of any bears on the ocean side yet.

A reminder to those who still don't get these updates in their email. There are no catches to subscribing, and there's no cost. It's absolutely free. You can use any email address and you only need to reply to the verification email to allow the feed to arrive in your inbox.

This site is not funded and I do not get paid to do these updates. It is strictly volunteer work to record, update and share this information. All whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings are logged and reported to the Cetacean Sightings Network at the Vancouver Aquarium for their biologist run central data bank.

Hummingbirds: The Rufous are coming back in droves, and I seldom see an Anna's at the feeder any more. Time to get more sugar!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Orca, Porpoise, Dolphin and Sea Lion Update to April 6

These two sightings updates below just came in this evening - things are definitely heating up in the sightings department:

For a third Killer Whale update comment that is attached to the bottom of yesterday's post, click here.

"Good Day.
While flying from Port Hardy to Campbell River today (6 April 2011), 1:20pm,  I spotting a pod of approximately half dozen Orca transiting northwestbound along Johnson Strait, 5 miles east of Robson Bight, along the south shoreline.  At least 4-5 were swimming 'line-abreast', and the remainder was/were approx 100metres off to their right and slightly behind.

Also, abeam Chatham Lightstation, approx 1:45pm, we spotted 3 Orca transiting westbound. It appeared to be two larger and one smaller,, but I can't confirm that..

Thank You
Randy Meszaros
Coast Guard Helicopters
Victoria, BC"

This report came in from AJ who's been getting out on the water recently:

"I saw about Dalls 6 Porpoise on April 5 around Church House and the entrance to Bute Inlet (Johnstone Bluff)  around 12pm. Then on my way out around 1345 I saw about 6 Pacific White Sided Dolphins! They were just behind Clipper Pt.

Then the really exciting news, I saw 3 fins today in Hole In The Wall around 10 this morning. My second Orca encounter for the year! They were headed west with the tide (max ebb at 941 -7.2kts) I would imagine they would head north through Upper Rapids in Okisollo Channel, then on to Westing in Johnstone Straight, but who really knows! I only saw them for 1 surfacing, 3 animals for sure. 1 smaller fin and 2 larger ones, hard to say if they were males or large females... Didn't get photo's either... I was lucky enough to be able to wait 10 mins but they were probably long gone with the tide ripping.

About a dozen Stellers on North Bluff still in Seymour Narrows and I even saw one today up Ramsay Inlet near Quatam River estuary.

Hurricane Jack is out on the first trip of the year tomorrow. So he'll be on the radio I'm sure.

I'll let you know if I find anything else!"

Sounds like we're finally getting some activity with the first nature / whale tour of the Campbell River season.

Orca Sightings Finally Apr 5

This is the first sighting of Killer Whales or Orca in the area since January. It's been a long time for them to have stayed away. We can only hope that this sighting report is start of more frequent sightings again. The report came in last night, so I couldn't even try to find them with binoculars.

Dee Reported from Savary Island:
"We had company this evening and one looked out and asked if there was a float out front.  From 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., we watched some orcas traveling and circling in front of our cabin.  Steve saw a large male way out from the others.  The most I saw at one time was four...looked like females or maybe young males.....We don’t know that much.  They were traveling over Stradioditti Reef from east to west.  This is the first time we have ever seen them traveling in that direction.  We just got to the island this Sunday." 

Stradiotti Reef extends out towards Harwood Island off the South side of Savary Island.

Based on what looked like a "float out in front", it would suggest that the whales were in what's called a Resting Line. This is when they lie still on the surface, usually grouped in somewhat of a line, to sleep or rest. Since whales have to consciously think about breathing, they seem to take short "naps" on the surface.

I'm making a bold assumption that these whales are possibly the Transients that were last seen in the inside passages by Minstrel Island off Johnstone Strait. It's unknown where these Orca got to, so it may very well be them in our neighbourhood. Keep your eyes peeled and binoculars handy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sightings Mar 29 to Apr 3 Plus Whale Updates

I was so excited! Finally I spotted some activity in front of Powell River. Reaching for the binoculars to get a better look, I found myself looking at a couple of sea lions with a few birds.

Although they are great animals to watch, my heart sank a bit since there still have not been any whales or dolphins sighted in or around this area. There have been rumours of possibly a few Pacific White Sided Dolphins wake riding with the Comox to Powell River ferry, but even those sightings reports were not certain.

On the other hand, there have been some Transient (meat eating) Orca, a few Gray Whales, and even a Minke sighted down by the Washington State / Canada border to the South.

And to the North, the Offshore Orca were last reported in the upper Johnstone Strait area March 31st.

Spring is definitely coming, albeit a bit late, by the fact that my Hummingbird count is up to three regular Rufous Hummingbirds at the feeder, two males and one female. There are still a couple of Anna's too, but they are less frequent now.