It’s been a slow start for resident killer whale sightings. There are lots of Bigg’s killer whales (transient) and baleen whales around; however, the residents are staying out of the protected inshore waters.
We only have two reports of northern residents in the Johnstone Strait area, both near Port Hardy. On April 10th the I31 matriline were seen near Port Hardy, and on March 17th the G38 matriline were seen near the Port Hardy airport.
Photo: Mark Malleson
J pod is back! On Wednesday May 15th J pod appeared off Victoria and spent the day shuffling along San Juan Island before heading north up Haro Strait in the evening. It has been over 2 months since J pod was last seen in the Salish Sea, but everyone was accounted for.
In the last issue of Whale News we told you about the US Northwest Fisheries Science Centre tracking a male killer whale K25 with a satellite tag. Around April 5th, 3 months after the tag was put on, the tag stopped transmitting data. K25 was last tracked off the west coast of Washington State just north of the entrance to the Columbia River. The rest of K pod and possibly L pod were believed to be traveling with K25. Neither K or L pod have been seen in the Salish Sea since our last Whale News. Click here to read more about K25.
Photo: Joan Lopez
Bigg’s whales (transients) are taking over along the coast! On April 9th Biggs whales were quite literally scattered around the Salish Sea. The T36s, T99s and T49C were southbound in Swanson Channel off Moresby Island, then just a bit further south T20, T21 and the T123s were southbound in Haro Strait near Turn Point, and a bit farther north 7 whales from the T49Bs and T65As were in Georgia Strait heading north along the east side of Galiano Island.
Kwatsi (T20) and Pandora (T21) have been steadfast around the Salish Sea for the past month too. On April 26th they were seen along the east side of Mayne Island heading towards Active Pass, and then the next day they were seen near Trial Island off Victoria. Three days later they were north bound off Oak Bay near Victoria and on May 6th they were north bound near Polier Pass off Galiano Island.
On May 8th a group of 11 Bigg's whales were seen in Georgia Strait north of Sucia Island. A group consisting of T63, the T65s and T121A joined up with the T2Cs and T123s for some socializing.
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Another killer whale washes ashore on the west coast
Sadly the body of another killer whale washed ashore Sunday April 13th on the beach about 1 km east of Carmanah Point Light station on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition so it was not possible to identify the whale, its ecotype or even its gender; however, researchers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada performed a necropsy on the whale and collected tissue samples.
When a killer whale dies, it often happens in the winter months when the conditions are harder and food is scarcer. The body often sinks and is never seen or recovered by humans. This is the reason why a killer whale is often listed a missing for approximately a year before researchers are confident enough to officially list the whale as dead.
So when a body does wash up on a beach it gives researchers an opportunity to learn more about the whale and possibly why it perished. Preliminary genetic analysis on the tissue samples of this whale suggest it was likely from the South East Alaska Transient population.
Photo: Jerry Etzkorn, Carmanah Point Lightstation
Moby Doll Orca Symposium: Relfection on Change
Saturna Island May 24-26, 2013
The remarkable history of killer whales in BC is being celebrated at a Symposium on Saturna Island from Friday May 24th- Sunday May 26th. The symposium, being organized by the Saturna Heritage Committee and the Saturna Island Marine Research & Education Society, will feature the story of Moby Doll and the sequence of events triggered by his capture that profoundly changed the relationship between humans and killer whales. The Vancouver Aquarium’s former CEO Dr. Murray Newman has been invited to speak about his experience with Moby Doll and senior marine mammal scientist Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard has been invited to speak on future challenges. Click here to open up the program.
Other speakers include:
- Dr. John Ford
- Dr. Peter Ross
- Dr. Ken Balcomb
- Kathy Heise
- Graeme Ellis and more
Photo: Saturna Heritage Commitee
Speaker presentation: Homes for Whales and Dolphins, Marine Protected Areas for Cetaceans
Vancouver Aquarium June 5, 2013
Join the Vancouver Aquarium and World Wildlife Fund for an evening presentation by one of the world’s premier experts on marine protected areas. Erich Hoyt, the author of, “Orca, The Whale Called Killer”, will be talking about how we protect the ocean habitat of highly mobile whales and dolphins. Erich will also be available to sign and sell books. The Vancouver Aquarium’s killer whale scientist, Lance Barrett-Lennard will introduce Erich and give a brief account of how he was inspired to begin his own studies of killer whales after reading Erich's first book.
Click here to learn more