October 20 2020 T037s, Humpbacks: Stitch and Merge, Sea Lions, Harbour seals, Pacific White-sided dolphins Goodness it has been ages since we have written a summary! It is not an indication that we have not been busy, actually, just the opposite. However, the Northern Residents have not been around and that does affect our focus. The last weeks have been about surviving the heavy rains that have lashed & drenched the coast. Water has been pouring onto the beach causing deep gouges in the sand and pebbles, forming rivers where there were none before. The forest has deep pools and the once meek creeks (our water supply)are roaring. We welcomed Anthony who has come to pick up Jenn whose time here is coming to a close. Anthony volunteered to help with ŇredoingÓ the deck to the Lab. Earlier we had brought the necessary lumber to the island where it sat under a tarp waiting to be put to use. James, who arrived early in October along with Beck, had been putting his considerable skills to work fixing old stairs and various other jobs. Now together with Anthony, the two are tackling the considerable challenge of the deck despite the less than perfect conditions of both weather and the under structure of the old deck. The result is looking spectacular. The old discarded wood has given us the excuse to fire up the bath-house, a good place to get warm and dry. Paul, Megan and Jenn meanwhile have been busy as well. During a break in the weather they finally retrieved the rubbing beach systems. We do this every year in order to protect them against the avenging winter storms. This was, as it turned out, just in time, as a huge early storm struck the coast, trapping Helena and Paul in Alert Bay who then had to deal with a flooded basement (another victim of the extraordinary amount of rain). Then after two unsuccessful attempts Paul, Megan and Jenn managed to get over to Kaizumi Beach and secure the solar panels and reposition the hydrophone, two more items on the list completed! AJ arrived recently to work on the electrical systems inside the Lab. With all the new equipment the old wiring was in need of an upgrade. In the background of all of this busyness are the sea lions, humpbacks, BiggŐs orcas, the ducks, migrating geese, the seals and the various other fall/winter residents. We know from our observations that Merge and Stitch are still using Blackney Pass regularly. The humpback scene is fairly quiet compared with previous Octobers when there seemed to be more intense social activity amongst the humpbacks. Even the singers (until last night) have become quieter. Last night we were treated to an hour long session in an otherwise quiet Blackfish Sound. This was a relief from the strange, very loud, explosive sounds of the past two nights in Johnstone Strait. These unexplained loud noises, heard on the Kaizumi system, occurred late in the evening and during the first part of the early morning. We are trying to figure out what they might be. On October 17, Alex Morton noticed a group of BiggŐs orcas headed through Weynton Pass from Donegal Head at 11:55am. Jared picked up their trail and identified the T037s off of Cracroft Point at 1:30pm. The sound of Pacific White-sided dolphins two nights ago might be an indication that other BiggŐs orcas may turn up at some point. The sea lions have continued to haul out in numbers along the Hanson Island shore. When they are forced off their rocks by the rising tides they can be seen travelling back and forth looking for a tasty meal to tide them over when they get out of the water and resume their sleepy postures. The many flocks of migrating geese high in the skies above remind us to keep going with our winterising efforts: the days are shorter, the weather more temperamental, the air is cooler.

Helena
20 Oct 2020 12:08:22 PST



Performing maintenance

Good lovely morning, everyone! We will be shutting down Lab power in a few minutes, so are stopping streaming video and audio. Will be back as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience!

OrcaLab
20 Oct 2020 10:31:13 PST



Superb sounds!!

Beautiful Humpback whale song on Flower Island, follow this link to listen https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
20 Oct 2020 03:18:06 PST



Performing maintenance

HI everyone, we will be doing some work in the Lab tomorrow and for at least one more day that will require us to shut down power to the Lab. It means that we will not be streaming audio or video. We will be back as soon as possible. Meanwhile, take good care, please, and stay safe!

OrcaLab
18 Oct 2020 21:16:43 PST



Distant calls audible.

The humpback was interrupted by a boat but picked it up again about a half hour later. Recently there have been a few calls, nothing very social but perhaps some feeding effort going on through the night.

OrcaLab
18 Oct 2020 04:41:44 PST



We have a Humpback calling on Flower Island!

Megan
17 Oct 2020 20:31:28 PST



There was a humpback singing on our Flower island hydrophone. But he has now stopped. Hopefully he will start up again!

Megan
17 Oct 2020 04:56:52 PST



Humpback calls on Flower Island

Beck and Megan
11 Oct 2020 04:39:09 PST



Orcas near mics.

Beautiful humpback song on Flower Island come and listen with us https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
09 Oct 2020 13:54:06 PST



October 7 & 8 2020: Humpbacks, Sea Lions, Harbour Seals Ever wonder what we do when the orcas are not around? On October 7 we welcomed Clay Fischer back to OrcaLab to oversee the installation of the BIG new (and colourful) batteries to replace the old (less colourful) bank that had outlived their life. The job of replacing the batteries began with ordering, shipping and transporting to Hanson Island. Amazingly, we had help at the dock. Bill Mckay came down to the dock in Port McNeill where the shipment was unloaded. He took one look at the stack of 120lb batteries (16 in all) and went home to outfit his truck with his trusty winch. When he arrived back three young men were loading their boat on the opposite side. As Bill hooked a battery onto his winch he called them over. In the space of what felt like 10 minutes they manhandled (always wondered about that term) the batteries onto the June Cove for the ride home! The trusty June Cove made it home, no problem. But this of course meant the batteries needed to be lifted off the boat and onto shore. No strong young men at this end. The solution was to beach the boat and wait for the tide to go out the next day then slide the batteries down a ramp and walk them up the beach to the deck. Easier said than done. But the task was accomplished without complication. It was time to take a break. Fortunately, additional help was coming. James and Beck arrived just in time. James modified the battery box so the old BIG batteries could be lifted out easily and moved the new BIG batteries closer to their final resting spot. Then Clay arrived, and saw to it that the old batteries were dismantled and removed. Everyone helped. The new batteries were put in place and hooked up. Clay made sure everything was working as it should. During these quieter non-whale moments the idea of getting the woodshed in shape for winter starts to be very appealing. The October weather is definitely turning cooler (and wetter). The stoves are getting more use of late. To meet the demand we need to secure a good supply each year. Megan took it on herself to grab a couple of promising logs, one from across the bay and the other from under the feet of several seagulls who were using it to ride the current. Both were excellent choices, one hemlock, one fir. In no time the two logs were bucked into rounds, chopped and stacked. The gift of winterŐs warmth. Today, October 8, was very wet. We had caught a break in the weather yesterday when we were fiddling with the batteries but the rains came in the night and continued through the day. Everything was drenched thoroughly. Before Clay left the conversation turned to the benefits of resurrecting the micro hydro installation. A hike over to the creek, now overflowing its banks, looked encouraging. Most of the pictures from today all have the same grey theme. Grey humpbacks, grey skies, grey water. One exception,James noticed as he worked on a shelter for the outdoor bath firewood, a seal in the green waters of the inner bay, just meters from where he was working, had a large salmon. Another seal came by and grabbed some of the bounty. The two, focused on their feast, ignored the camera shutter and carried on until the salmon was devoured. With the dark evening, day and chores done, the stoves making cozy, the continuing rains patter down noisily drowning out the somewhat distant humpback calling on the hydrophone.

OrcaLab
08 Oct 2020 21:02:55 PST



Performing maintenance

Good morning everyone! We are doing some work on power at the Lab and will be off line for several hours. Back as soon as possible. Meanwhile, thanks for your patience.

OrcaLab
07 Oct 2020 10:06:33 PST



Superb sounds!!

Really interesting and good humpback sounds in Blackney Pass at the moment. Ocean quiet!

OrcaLab
06 Oct 2020 19:57:00 PST



It's that time of night again, The humpback has started singing on the Flower Island hydrophone!

Megan
06 Oct 2020 18:39:35 PST



Superb sounds!!

October 4 & 5: Humpbacks, Sea Lions Thought it a good idea to catch-up before too much time passes. Listening to very nice humpback vocals in Blackfish Sound at the moment. It is 3am on October 6. This began at 8:18pm yesterday evening. Without jinxing it, the ocean has been quiet, no boat noise for a long time while this humpback has been seemingly content to carry on. Ayway, going back even further, a good deal of October 4 was dealing with power issues at the Lab and we had to turn the power off for a while. Luckily, the whale scene was uncomplicated and nothing major was missed. It is beginning to feel as if the Northern Residents are now some distance away. We last heard the A5s near Robson Bight mid day on September 30. There have been no reports of their whereabouts since. We welcome James and Rebecca to the Lab. Friends of Megan, they will be helping out through the month of October. Rebecca heard humpback vocals for the first time this evening. The Sea Lions are carrying on with their daily rhythm of getting on and off their haul-out rocks.

OrcaLab
06 Oct 2020 03:15:06 PST



Still going! Still in Blackfish.

OrcaLab
06 Oct 2020 02:34:14 PST



And four hours later, this humpback is still singing away, How incredible!

Megan
05 Oct 2020 23:14:25 PST



Orcas near mics.

There is a humpback in Blackfish Sound trying out various sounds.

OrcaLab
05 Oct 2020 19:53:26 PST



We have a Humpback calling on Flower Island! Listen live now!

Megan
04 Oct 2020 22:43:08 PST



Performing maintenance

We are doing some work in the Lab and will be down for a while. Back soon, we hope, and thank you for your patience!

OrcaLab
04 Oct 2020 13:46:20 PST



October 3 2020: Unidentified Bigg’s , T55s, Dolphins It was as if a grey sheet was drawn right in front of us today. The fog, or is it smog again, was so thick that the world became almost monochrome. Rather peaceful with our view pretty much reduced to the bays in front of us. We could make out the harlequin ducks and even a loon slightly off shore avoiding advancing sea lions. Amazingly,the day was not without orcas. Just before 2pm we heard Bigg’s calls. They must have been “just around the corner” in the entrance to Blackney Pass. By chance Jenn saw them along the fog line mid channel. They were just about to disappear into Blackfish Sound. We had no chance of photos but later wondered if they might the T55s who Jared Towers identified going west past Alert Bay at 6:46pm. In the evening, around 7:50pm Pacific Whitesided dolphins were heard in Johnstone Strait not far from Strider Rubbing Beach. They went west to Robson Bight where their calls became louder. After that their calls became distant once again and broke off eventually in the midst of heavy boat noise. It sounded like a sizable group. How often it seems we have both orcas and dolphins on the same day! Quite a lot of our day was consumed by moving the large, heavy new batteries off the June Cove and up onto the deck where they will soon replace the old ones and give literally new energy to the OrcaLab power systems. It was quite the job and possibly Megan, Jenn, Helena and Paul will feel it tomorrow! Time for a hot soak in the Hanson Island tub. Good news on the Quin and Suzie front. Suzie got some time off from work and she has now joined Quin on their new sailboat, the Orion. Quin has brought the boat around from Port Renfrew and is currently near Sonora Island. We will probably see them in a few days!. That is if the fog finally clears and we can actually see again!

OrcaLab
03 Oct 2020 21:00:04 PST



We have some very chatty Pacific white sided dolphins calling on our critical Point hydrophone! Its quite lovely!

Megan, Paul and Helana
03 Oct 2020 19:10:33 PST



September 30 2020: A5s heard, Humpbacks,Sea Lions September 30th began with the calls of a humpback in Blackfish Sound growing gradually fainter at 12:19am and stopping momentarily at 12:33am. He picked it up again at 1:24am briefly just before our attention was drawn toward Johnstone Strait where the A5s began a rub at Kaizumi Beach at 1:35am. The orcas let out a few calls, rare these days, as they continued with the rub which eventually ended by 2am. As dawn broke a humpback was again heard in the distance. Smoke was in the air again and the sun took on a distinctive red hue. Jenn and Megan Hockin-Bennett prepared to dive on the mooring at slack tide around 10am. This went well despite the breezy southeast wind. Realising that the mooring would need additional work Jenn and Megan swam back to shore following the Sonic which had Megan McKenzie and Paul on board as their above water help. This was to be Megan McKenzieŐs last day at the Lab. She would leave the next day to resume work in Vancouver with the raptor programme she interrupted to come to Hanson Island. Megan has been a terrific help and she will be missed. The discrete A5s briefly let us know that they had moved toward Robson Bight at 11:03am. We felt we were hearing just one individual with the impression that it might be a young whale. Whoever it was, the whale repeated the same call over and over again. The calls sounded strained and then dropped off after a bout of echolocation. We did not hear the A5s again. From 7:35pm to 9:20pm we heard humpback calls in Blackney Pass and Blackfish Sound. This concluded the day. October 1 2020: T34s, T37s,T101s (-T102),Humpbacks, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Sea Lions During the early morning shift, from 12 to 3am, a humpback made several tries to begin his song but managed half attempts at best. We recorded and noted the fluctuations of his efforts. Just after this shift ended and a new one began this humpback finally broke into a full voice for 10 minutes. He was magnificent. Then inexplicably he began to slow down, making sounds, but no longer song. He continued in this vain until 6:37am. The day unfolded, Megan McKenzie prepared to leave on the Sonic so she might catch the Alert Bay ferry on time. Paul and Helena,meanwhile, were participating, as observers for Dolphin Connection, in a virtual Zoom meeting of the Conservation Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). This was the third day of such meetings. The work of this committee on behalf of cetaceans is impressive. The IWC meeting was cancelled this year due to COVID, extending the inter-session period. The well managed meetings have discussed a wide range of concerns; bicatch, cetaceans of concern, whale watching, ship strikes. As soon as the meeting was over it was Paul and HelenaŐs turn to get ready to leave for Alert bay as well. They made one stop on the way at Double Bay to say good -bye to Michel Reppy who was on his way back to California, his other home. Michael gave a tour of the improved facilities. He has worked very hard over the last few years to renovate the old resort in preparation of developing a sanctuary for Corky based on the philosophy of ŇBuild it and they will comeÓ. Michael will return next Spring to resume his dream of bringing Corky home. As Paul and Helena carried on to Port McNeill to pick up new batteries, Jenn and Megan were suddenly very busy at the Lab. At 11:35am a large group of Pacific-Whitesided dolphins entered the Pass. They mixed it up with the sea lions as they foraged and left to the north. At 12:23pm, they heard BiggŐs orca calls and located 6 fins in the entrance of Blackney Pass engaged in a hunt. They would be later identified as the T34s,T37s and T101s and they would stay in this same general area until around 3pm. They were vocal, strongly at 12:47pm, throughout this event. The impression was that they were after sea lions. At 3pm, Jenn noted the following: ŇSince 3:02pm the BiggŐs probably came back to Blackney Pass. A boat which was stopping and restarting grabbed my attention. As I was scanning on the remote Parson Island camera, I decided to find this boat. I saw it next to the sea lionŐs haul out rock but it was too far away to really see anything so I switched to the sea lion rock remote camera. The boat was right beside the rock chasing the orcas away! I started recording straight away. The orcas were close to the sea lion rock most likely hunting sea lions. Most likely disturbed by the boat, the BiggŐs went away and crossed the Pass. The boat followed them very close and then sped away to the south. Once on the other side of the Pass, the BiggŐs headed north.Ó By 3:47pm the BiggŐs were opposite the Parson Island Light. A short while later while still travelling north, a humpback was not far away from them. They did a huge dive at 4:18pm when off Harbledown Island and did not resurface until past West Pass. There were a lot of percussive bangs and calls as they entered and travelled Blackfish Sound. Calls ended at 5:28pm. Pretty sure Jenn and Megan were impressed by the length of involvement and excitement created by the BiggŐs orcas! The behaviour of the boat was certainly concerning and we hope it is not repeated. The rest of the evening was fairly quiet with the exception of a humpback far off in the distance.

OrcaLab
01 Oct 2020 21:53:33 PST



Orcas approaching Orcalab.

Biggs going North in Blackney Pass, come and have a look https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
01 Oct 2020 14:45:01 PST



Orcas approaching Orcalab.

At least 5 biggs hunting in the EBP RIP at the entrance of Blackney Pass, come and have a look with us https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
01 Oct 2020 11:35:04 PST



Pacific White Side Dolphins and sea lions feeding all together come and see https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
01 Oct 2020 10:48:32 PST



Amazing Humpback song on Flower Island!

Megan
01 Oct 2020 02:10:59 PST



As the full moon rises over Blackney Pass a humpback has started singing on Parson Island!

Megan and Helena
30 Sep 2020 19:38:38 PDT



September 29 2020: A23s,A25s, [unidentified BiggŐs], Humpbacks: Argonaut, Stitch and others, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Sea Lions, Seals Picking up where we left off yesterday, there was more to the evening. At 11:11pm we heard the A5s pass over the beach at Strider. They were headed east. They did not call but there was some echolocation within Robson Bight soon after at 11:43pm and a faint call at 11:48pm. Throughout this orca tracking, the humpbacks took up their refrains in the Blackfish/Blackney area. The one in Blackfish sang out loudly at 11:12pm. Then at 11:42pm it sounded for all the world like two humpbacks in Blackfish and another on Parson Island. This is quite a jump in simultaneous ŇsingersÓ. We know Argonaut has been around and being male could account for some of this effort. Two more males? That would be exciting! By contrast, the A5s continued to call and echolocate in a very low keyed manner through the early hours. The combination of the exercised humpbacks and the indifferent orcas was enough to keep Megan H up for most of the night. Even strong, loud boat noise did not seem to deter the humpback in Blackney Pass. This was surprisingly similar to the previous evening. Normally, boat noise seems to disrupt the humpbacks and they grow quiet. Not so for this fellow! The orcas quit at 1:12am while very bad boat noise continued. The humpback resumed at 1:49am then stopped at 2:10am. He might have moved to Blackfish Sound, or there was another humpback who did the honour at 3:50am. The A5s were heard again at 6:10am. They may have been heading west at this point. Dolphins were also out in the foggy Strait. Scott found the A23s/A25s heading east at 9:46am near Blinkhorn Peninsula which is east of Telegraph Cove. So obviously the A5s had a busy night too but true to recent form they did so with very little calling. Scott reported that they were angling toward Cracroft Point. An hour later they were in Blackney Pass heading north. Megan M said it was by luck that she saw them as the fog bank was thick halfway across the Pass with the far side pretty much obscured. She had been taking pictures of a seal who was skirting the shoreline as if looking for a place to rest. Looking at the pictures later it looks like she might have been heavily pregnant. Was this her time? The orcas, meanwhile, obliged by travelling just this side of the fog line. The A23s were together and in the lead. The A25s followed. As the A23s neared the end of the Pass, where it runs into Blackfish Sound, the groupŐs large male, A60, began to slap his tail on the water several times. There were no dolphins at this time which was a surprise because they had lately been around A85 and her baby, A121, persistently. However, there were at least three humpbacks which the orcas had to navigate around. Argonaut had paired up with Stitch, an adult female. By 10:50am, the A23s cleared our view and entered Blackfish Sound and by 11:15am the A25s did so too. They made a few perfunctory calls and echolocation to 12:15pm. Obviously they were not in any particular hurry with the current against them. A couple of hours later, just after 2pm, they came back. By now there wasnŐt any fog. They were through and out of our view quite quickly. There were dolphins in the entrance way to Blackney Pass along with numerous sea lions in the water. They returned quietly to Johnstone Strait where we lost track of them until we heard them starting at 6:39pm. The calls were not strong and offered no clear impression as to where they might be. By nightfall, we were still no wiser but we had a beautiful full voiced humpback from 8:16 to 8:45pm to draw our attention to Blackfish Sound. Really quite spectacular! We will finish by saying it was a pretty good day: Two passings by the A5s, great humpback calls, lots of sea lions, an interesting seal or two, sunny warm weather after the fog, and good companionship from everyone here and those at a distance but still in touch. Ah, yet another humpback, again in Blackfish, is going to close off the day.

OrcaLab
29 Sep 2020 23:10:29 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Humpback in Blackfish! Pretty neat!

OrcaLab
29 Sep 2020 23:08:33 PDT



Beautiful Humpback song on Flower Island. Listen live!

Megan
29 Sep 2020 20:20:27 PDT



Orcas approaching Orcalab.

23s and 25s in Blackney Pass on the Main Cam at the moment, come and follow them https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
29 Sep 2020 14:04:47 PDT



Humpback singing on Parson Island, Listen live now!

Megan
29 Sep 2020 00:07:07 PDT



September 27 & 28 2020: A23s, A25s, Humpbacks: Argonaut, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Sea lions, seals. September 27 was remarkable for how uneventful it was. At 6:22am we began to record a humpback in Blackfish Sound. The calls lasted until 8:22am. The rest of the day was spent dodging the rain, watching the many sea lions hauled out and trying to ID the humpbacks in the Pass. With regard to the sea lions, it now looks as if the females, young juveniles and babies have joined the adult males on the local haul out rocks. These rocks on Hanson Island are not the only place the sea lions haul out during the winter. There is quite a large contingent in the Plumper Islands as well. Our count is nearing 50 -100 on a regular basis. That makes for a lot of growls and jostling for space. September 28 had a bit more jump. Not only did the weather slowly begin to improve we were kept busy for longer hours through the night. Just before 1am a humpback began singing in Blackfish Sound. He stopped disappointingly a few minutes later. A few hours later at 4:21am a humpback struck up the band once more and gave a longer performance. The calls lasted until just before 5am. The rest of the morning came and went. While outside fixing the deck speaker and watching a humpback out of the corner of her eye, Helena heard A5 calls at 10:29am. The calls were in Blackfish Sound. The orcas must be on their way back! We had concluded a couple of days ago that the A23s/A25s had gone west in Johnstone Strait and most likely left the area via Weynton Pass. All this based on some very faint calls from 11:30pm on the 25th to 12:16am on the 26th and realising that it had been possible to follow the more expressive dolphins westward as they presumably accompanied the orcas. The dolphins have recently been quite persistent following the orcas, especially A85 and young year old baby, A121 so it was not a far fetched assumption. Back to the 28th, the A5s continued to call until 10:47am and then went quiet. This led to the thought that they had decided to go into the Strait via Weynton Pass. But an hour later we saw them heading south! They were travelling pretty fast, that is until they reached Parson Island, just after the Light, where they stopped, turned and milled about for a short while. The current was in full flood so eventually they carried on through the rest of the Pass. As the A25s have been their constant companions through September we waited for the proverbial shoe to drop. Sure enough ten minutes after the A23s cleared our view came the A25s (11:58am). They too were in a hurry and wasted no time ŇrunningÓ through the Pass. And you guessed it, A85 and A121 were surrounded by dolphins once again. The A23s had let out a few short calls just after they disappeared from view and so did the A25s. During the time following they were quiet. We indulged in thinking that both groups carried on to the Strait and went east. We were hampered by not having a remote camera at Cracroft Point to watch the scene in Johnstone Strait. Regardless, we picked up their trail acoustically at 1pm when someone went in for a short rub at Kaizumi Beach. From Kaizumi they headed to Robson Bight. Jenn could see them advancing eastward on the remote camera at Critical Point, Robson Bight. By 2:10pm, A61 was near that eastern headland of the Bight. With some very loud echolocation he and A85/A121 passed out of camera view by 2:19pm. Interesting that the A25s had now taken the lead, the reverse of earlier in the day. Both groups headed for Strider Beach. The rub there for the A23s began at 2:37pm and for the A25s at 2:40pm. Of course the dolphins were there as well. It was a short rub that was over after just a few minutes. The orcas then came into view of the Main Beach remote camera. They were milling offshore and did not go into Main for a rub but headed back to Strider to start another rub at 3:12pm. From there, after this rub, they headed offshore and made a wide circle toward Cracroft Island where they turned and went east. We lost sight of them at 4:15pm. Megan (HB) got home after braving the winds off Alert Bay. With various things to do in town her stay got extended by circumstance. It was great to have her back. As she nudged the Sonic in, a huge male sea lion stretched out his neck, curious to see what she was up to. Argonaut, the humpback, was in Blackney Pass with others for most of the day. Tempting to think it was Argonaut who began singing at 5:43pm in Blackfish Sound. During the recorded session, which lasted until, well until forever actually, this humpback made really clear calls, then fainter ones after retreating away from the hydrophone, and more after shifting from Blackfish to Blackney at 8:09pm. He eventually went quiet but we could still hear him move around not far from the hydrophone at 9:02pm. Then at 9:34pm he began to sing again. Even an approaching tug with its loud boat noise did not deter his efforts at first. He continued to sound quite loud. As the tug drew parallel to Parson Island the humpback finally quit and did not fully resume properly afterwards. This day is pretty much done but donŐt think the humpback is, fairly sure there will be more.

OrcaLab
28 Sep 2020 22:27:40 PDT



Orcas rubbing on the shore bottom.

A23s and A25s approaching Strider Rubbing Beach follow them https://www.explore.org/liv....

OrcaLab
28 Sep 2020 14:46:01 PDT



Orcas rubbing on the shore bottom.

A23s and A25s approaching Strider Rubbing Beach follow them https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
28 Sep 2020 14:37:12 PDT



Orcas approaching Orcalab.

A23s are now in Blackfish Sound heading to Blackney Pass, come and follow them https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
28 Sep 2020 11:44:02 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Humpback (s) in Blackfish Sound making some lovely calls.

OrcaLab
27 Sep 2020 06:44:08 PDT



September 26 2020: ŇAsÓ, Humpbacks, PWD, Sea Lions Our day really started at the end of the last. We had been surprised into sudden awareness of rubbing at Strider Beach. What followed were some distant, nondescript calls and some more Pacific White-sided dolphin chatter. The orca calls were on just one station (except for the rub) and always distant. Near to impossible to tell accurately who was out there. The dolphins strangely enough were easier to track westward. They began on the Strider and Main hydrophones at 12:13am and moved west to the Critical Point station by 12:34am. This is the station where the orcas were heard. It was a straight forward progression for the dolphins to Kaizumi Beach hydrophone at 1:08am. Twenty minutes later we heard them even further west off Cracroft Point. They were not close to the hydrophone so probably favouring mid strait or the other side. At 1:36am they were opposite the entrance to Blackney Pass and that is where their trail became cold. A humpback had made his presence known in the same area just before. The rest of the night was quiet. The morning and the rest of the entire day belonged to the humpbacks. Starting at 6:38am an individual began to ŇsingÓ in Blackfish Sound and lasted until 7am. At 11:50am there was a gathering of humpbacks in the Pass. Megan McKenzie observed the scene of the very active whales, unfortunately on the far side. One of these days the humpbacks will finally come closer to our side! Megan took photos and we are in the process of trying to figure out who was there. Someone became vocal between 2:56 and 3:39pm. The strongest calls were shortly after the humpback began. We were disturbed to see in the afternoon that one of the big male sea lions had a fishing flasher stuck in his mouth. He did not look comfortable. Usually, there is nothing that can be done in these situations. The task of helping is difficult and the expertise at a fair distance. The Vancouver Aquarium vets have developed a tranquiliser that is safe to use and they have been successful at aiding sea lions before. But the sea lion needs to stay put long enough for help to arrive. They are awfully big and many in number making it all that much harder. This poor fellow may not get any help but we did report it to Fisheries and Oceans (DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca) on the recommendation of Jackie Hildering. At least it will be part of the record. The night looks like it will close out with humpbacks once again. Some pretty nice vocals from 7:50pm to 8:47pm when two tugs in quick succession transited through Blackney Pass into Blackfish where the humpback was. It certainly disturbed the humpbacks train of thought and he soon went quiet. Tried again later a 9:45pm but he no longer seemed interested in continuing.

OrcaLab
26 Sep 2020 22:28:59 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Beautiful humpback in Blackfish Sound.

OrcaLab
26 Sep 2020 20:25:25 PDT



Superb sounds!!

A vocal humpback was making lovely sounds a few minutes ago! Might continue, so stay tuned!

OrcaLab
26 Sep 2020 15:11:39 PDT



Distant calls audible.

A bit of a post script to the summary: had written this summary earlier in the eventing when everything was quiet. Surprise, out of "nowhere" the sounds of rubbing at Strider Beach followed by very faint calls further to the west on the Critical Point hydrophone. Now just past midnight and the calls continue.

OrcaLab
26 Sep 2020 00:06:22 PDT



September 25 Pacific White-sided dolphins, Humpbacks, Sea Lions After all the rush of yesterday, after all the wind and rain, today was pretty peaceful. Rivers of water literally poured out from the spongy forest and onto the sloping beach beyond. Mushrooms, beginning to sprout up, dot the forest floor with surprising colour. The slugs are enjoying feasts of chanterelle to anamita. There was even a faint rainbow at the end of the day just before a group of dolphins passed in the fading light. The story of the day belonged to the Sea Lions who hauled out on the local rocks in numbers today. Our count ranged from 95 to 100+. They looked like they were glad to finally find a place to lay their bodies down and snooze. When the sun came out, (yes it really did), steam rose in billows around them as they stretched and growled. Geese flew over today, another marker of the passing seasons. Although the humpbacks continued to call through the night as they did last night, they were quite distant and sparse during the day. We did catch a glimpse of a humpback in the entrance to Blackney Pass. The breath of the humpbacks was amplified by the heavy moisture in the air and it rose high, lingered, then slowly disappeared moments before the next breath. The harlequin ducks have now taken up residency in the bays here joining the ever watchful Uni the seagull and the ever so patient heron. All three species will be with us throughout the winter. Tonight the rising moon made a brief appearance above the dark trees that ring the bay. Overall, it felt like a day to pause and absorb the sky, the ocean and especially the forest now covered in the fallen semi deciduous cedar offerings.

OrcaLab
25 Sep 2020 20:35:23 PDT



September 24 2020: [C06s], T002C’s, T090’s,PWD,Sea Lions A day in the life! After a night of distant but constant humpback calls in Blackfish Sound peppered with dolphin chatter, morning came with shouts of “ORCA!” just after 8am. Everyone came to the Lab for what would turn out to be a rather epic 6 hours of watching Bigg’s orcas travel back and forth in Blackney Pass in pursuit of finding a bite to eat. The group of 7-8 by our count were together travelling slowly southward while closer to the far side of the Pass. There were two males, one fully adult and the other looked to be younger, the rest were a mix of females and juveniles. There was a lot of back and forth so progress was slow. We had the quick impression that they were already on the hunt. We could not tell if they were successful yet but they did catch the attention of a large whale watching sailboat that motored closer to their position. This worried us because if the whales were seriously hunting they would be sensitive to disturbance. There were quite a few sea lions in the water and none hauled out as the timing of the tides was not conducive. The orcas did not seem immediately interested. Continuing south, the orcas were about half way along Parson Island just after 9am when about 50 + dolphins rushed into Blackney Pass from the north. They passed fairly close to us then suddenly did an abrupt turn into Hanson Island and swept by even closer and disappeared back to Blackfish Sound. Had they got wind of the orcas? Just after this the orcas took a deep dive and we momentarily lost track of them. Acoustic clues, bangs, whistles and more bangs, directed our attention and the remote Parson camera toward the area of Blackney Pass just beyond our view. There, on the Baronet Passage side of Cracroft Island were the Bigg’s again moving back and forth making short transits of the area. There were a few calls along with whistles and a few sharp “snap” sounds as if they had made a direct hit. The view was still distant and it was not clear what they had found but we were quite convinced that they had by now had successfully got something. They continued to work the area now as two groups simultaneously working together but somewhat independently at the same time. It now dawned on us that there were two different families here and we began to review the photos from earlier and look in the ID catalogue for possible matches. Megan (McKenzie) compared photos of the larger male and noted similarity to the male in the T02C family. The young male was travelling close to the older one this caused some confusion as the count of two males did not match the profile of the T02Cs. We left off trying to match IDS as we were kept busy following the whales as they continued to hunt. Gradually they moved closer and closer to where Blackney Pass runs into Johnstone Strait. And still the back and forth. The hunt seemed to be lasting a very long time. The whales breached, porpoised and breached some more. At one point it looked as if a small cetacean was fleeing their pursuit. All the while the occasional call, whistles and echo location. By 12pm, the orcas had shifted over to Hanson Island. They regrouped and then headed into the little pass, dubbed “Little Blackney” between Hanson Island and the small island, dubbed “Little Hanson”. They disappeared from our view but our expectation was that they would emerge and travel close to Hanson Island (our side of the Pass). However, a large grey zodiac had entered “Little Blackney Pass” from the opposite direction and after seven minutes the orcas reappeared from where they had first entered, they had turned around. They headed out a short way, looking like they might head out to the Strait. They breached, tail and pec slapped. Five minutes later the grey zodiac also reappeared and was soon joined by another whale watching zodiac. The determined Bigg’s, having made up their minds to go back into Blackney Pass, regrouped once more and at 12:50pm they turned north and travelled this time on the outside this time of Little Hanson Island. When they came into our view they angled out and crossed over to Parson Island. At first they were all together but once more they split into similar groups, with the two males together in the one group of five and three in the other. Just before 2pm, the male group was off West Pass while the group of three were further south opposite Harbledown Island. By now we had the identities of the two groups thanks to the arrival of Jared Towers. Indeed it was the T02Cs, as we had guessed, as well as the T090s, the family to which the younger male actually belonged. Confusion sorted. Finally, around 2:30pm the orcas decided to head into Blackfish Sound and out of our immediate view. It had been quite the day and really interesting watching how the Bigg’s handled the presence of boats while hunting. There had been the definite impact of the grey zodiac in the small pass causing the whales to turn back. Their breaches and tail slaps in the presence of the boats afterwards and before redoubling efforts to come north seemed like a definite statement. Earlier we had worried that the sailboat had been too persistent in its intentions and had caused the orcas to dodge back and forth. Hunting is a very sensitive and difficult activity. Earning a living this way is not an option, it is a necessity. Success is not a given. Perhaps this thought needs to better guide and inform boating behaviours around these whales. Our day had one more flavour. At 2:27pm Kate Brauer reported that Resident orcas had passed Bere Point and that they were headed east. Jared, already out and about, found the C6s eastbound at Lizard Point. So we waited. Expecting something to happen soon but nothing. Eventually however, the wind and rain came to overtake the night and saturate the forest.

OrcaLab
25 Sep 2020 10:04:30 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

The T090's and the T02C's have finally made their way back into Blackfish Sound which is where the originally came from. After hours of trying from land, Jared Towers managed to identify them for us. Thanks Jared!

Orca
24 Sep 2020 14:44:29 PDT



No orcas present.

The group of Bigg's Orcas off the entrance of Blackney Pass and are hunting! Watch live:https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
24 Sep 2020 09:38:22 PDT



Orcas approaching Orcalab.

Orca in Blackney Pass follow them https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
24 Sep 2020 08:15:14 PDT



Distant calls audible.

A rather nice humpback in Blackfish Sound - not close but persistently there!

OrcaLab
24 Sep 2020 02:00:19 PDT



September 23 2020 “As” heard, Humpbacks” Twister, Merge, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise. Sea Lions Throughout the morning the strong winds slowly diminished only to be replaced by heavy rain and a couple of loud thunder claps close overhead. The ocean and the sky became equally grey. With it being so dry lately we all had to learn how to dodge about without getting totally soaked each time. We pretty much failed and there are a lot of clothes hanging about hoping to dry eventually. The extra blankets for beds and fires being lit once again in the stoves suggests that the seasons have really turned. Another indication that things are shifting, the humpbacks, for really the first time,have started to show more inclination for coming together. With three humpbacks in the Pass around 6pm, two, opposite the Lab, began to slap their pectoral fins and wave them and their flukes in the air. Sometimes these displays from these ever so big creatures can be very dramatic and the effects heard right across the water. We did have indications that the Resident orcas were around but the clues were few and far between. At 10:43am there were just two rubbing sounds. A glance at the Strider remote camera showed a group of dolphins just offshore heading west. Unlikely that the dolphins made those rub sounds but lately, dolphins have been accompanying the orcas so possibly this was the case in this situation. So we waited on what might happen nearer to Robson Bight. Sure enough starting at 11:11am there was definite orca echolocation. No calls, no clues as to who but our guess was that they were headed west. At 3:16pm, we finally heard some very distant calls in Blackfish Sound. Possibly the whales had travelled through from Johnstone Strait via Weynton Pass and were on their way out to Queen Charlotte Strait. Four hours later, Kate Brauer, braving the rain, reported six orcas passed Bere Point about 11/2 miles off the Malcolm Island shore. A big male was out in the lead. The Sea Lions waited for the high tide to begin dropping before jumping on to the Hanson Rocks. Could see this happening but it was already getting dark so their presence was mostly noted by their growls and grunts. Perhaps the night can expect the humpbacks to announce their presence as well!

OrcaLab
24 Sep 2020 01:50:26 PDT



September 21 and September 22: A34s,A23s, A25s, Humpbacks: Squiggle and Claw, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Sea Lions What a difference a day makes! Tempting to kind of glance over the 21st except there was the exciting news that the A34s, who had been west of Port Hardy the day before with the A42s and A24s, were seen travelling south-east through Gordon Channel, near Hurst Island where Suzie id located, around 1:49pm. Encouraging to say the least and a bit of compensation for the lack of orcas down our direction and an Internet, which decided, in the afternoon, to completely fail. Having to keep the day’s events to the log book and not sharing with everyone immediately felt strange. The day was pretty uneventful. Megan, who had gone in with Paul and Kelly to retrieve the last of the lumber from Alert Bay, saw a Minke Whale just off the dock at 3:15pm. The Minke Whales in this seem to like the ocean spaces around Alert Bay and can often be seen there reliably. Minke Whales dive for 20 minutes at times so patience or luck is often needed. A humpback obliged from time to time from 4:55pm to 6:04pm. This completed our day. The following shifts in the Lab were uneventful and the night rolled easily into next day. September 22: The Fall Equinox! Fall arrived with a misty morning sky full of colour, autumn yellows and autumn oranges, covering the rising sun. Promising! Then came the calls, A34s, at 7:57am. Even more promising! They made it back! With them were the A23s and A25s. The groups called and called as they shifted back and forth in Blackfish Sound. For almost two hours we recorded, we waited, we watched until finally at 9:45am the A23s came into view. By then the A34s had grown distant. What was their story? Were they leaving after travelling so far? Whatever their destination, we needed focus on tracking the A23s, and the following A25s, through the Pass. It was sunny, there were blue skies, it was the first orcas we had seen in more than a day, and they were finally moving away from Blackfish Sound! Our Internet woes manifested itself in very shaky connections. The Flower Island hydrophone in Blackfish Sound required a reboot every two to three minutes. There was no public access so all the fits and starts were only really frustrating to ourselves. Then of course, the orcas after all the calls, whistles and echolocation they did in Blackfish Sound, fell near silent as they approached the next station on Parson Island. Despite the now ebbing tide (it turned at 9am) the two families made it through to Johnstone Strait and headed for Vancouver Island. By 11:17am we figured they were nearing Kaizumi Rubbing Beach. Jenn heard, a short while later, at 11:40am, calls off the entrance to Blackney Pass. We later surmised that this was probably the A34s who must have chosen Weynton Pass as their path to Johnstone Strait. Remember, their calls faded while in Blackfish Sound. Someone made a quick rub at Kaizumi but generally everyone continued toward the east. Another casualty of the failed wireless network was the hydrophone in Robson Bight called Critical Point. Without it we were deaf to the movements of the orcas over the next while. They turned up on Strider Rubbing Beach, both on the still working hydrophone and camera at 2:23pm. They stayed in this area, including Main Rubbing Beach, until 4:40pm. There was, like earlier, a lot of back and forth. Dolphins were there too. Fortunately, by this time our technical problems had been determined and a temporary fix put in place. We once again had a full network and WIFI! The problems with Flower Island were fixed and eventually even Critical Point was reconnected. We were now well into the afternoon and the skies had grown grey and the wind had freshened steadily throughout the day. The advent of Fall brought a change in the weather and a changing of the guard as well. The A34s have seemingly stepped into the shoes left by the A30s who had departed on August 31. Both groups belong to the A1 pod and for decades the A1s have been a, if not the, major presence in this area. For some reason, the A30s and the A34s often exchange places with each other, in this manner, while maintaining the same social position. When we last saw the orcas today they were heading back to the west. However, they offered few clues to their actual whereabouts after their time at Strider. At 5:15pm there was a single call heard but we are not even sure on which hydrophone. We just didn’t catch it in time.The tide was flooding as of 3:08pm. Was their move towards shore just west of Strider an indication of a turn? Did they take the easy way and “go with the flow”? We are often left, in moments of no calls, wondering what the orcas are going to do next. Usually we just have to wait. Meanwhile, humpbacks often fill in the gaps. Starting early tonight, a humpback began to vocalize in Blackfish Sound at 6:33pm. It is now almost 10pm, and he, if he is the same one, is still at it, having moved on to the Parson Island hydrophone.

OrcaLab
22 Sep 2020 22:29:14 PDT



Orcas rubbing on the shore bottom.

Orcas rubbing at Strider Rubbing Beach, follow them on https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Jennifer
22 Sep 2020 14:51:36 PDT