Summary for September 16th 2019: A42s,I15s, A23s, A25s, possible A54s and I65s In the late evening of September 15 the whales continued to call in Johnstone Strait on the Cracroft Point hydrophone system. Still very distant at first but then around 10:00pm A5 and I15 calls became a little clearer. At 11:33pm, we heard some sporadic humpback grunts and gurgles on the CP hydrophone while Suzie and Alicia soon reported hearing breaching sounds outside the CP camp in the dark. At 12:14am we started a recording after hearing faint G clan calls again on the Cracroft Point hydrophone. 15 minutes later there were A5 calls along side the still distant G clan calls. The impression we had was that the whales were moving very slowly around the Strait, seemingly still in no hurry at all. At around 12:45am the calls became more mid range in strength so we thought that perhaps they had finally made the decision to turn and head back to the east. Then the calls stopped around 1:41am. Distant calls picked up again at 3:40am. The whales were now in (or almost in) Blackney Pass. Our tracking abilities were compromised somewhat by a tug boat, followed closely by two consecutive cruise ships coming through Blackney Pass heading north and flooding the Pass with a huge amount of noise and crashing waves just after 4am - impossible to hear any blows. Luckily, faint calls became audible on the local hydrophone. Through the din we determined that the whales, like the boats, were headed north quickly through Blackney Pass. By 4:27am, Quinn and Shari were hearing A5 and G clan calls in Blackfish Sound just to the northwest of the Lab. Faint calls could still be heard when Karien took over for the morning shift at 6am. At 6:43am Shari saw four Cormorants on the steep rock wall on Parson Island poking their necks out of the crevasses assessing the dawning day. And across on our side of Blackney Pass we counted 61 Sea Lions on their haul out rocks. They really do seem to have settled into their winter routine of sleeping, eating, pushing each other off the rocks and then sleeping some more. At 7:52am we began to hear A5 calls in Blackfish Sound. They sounded pretty distant, and just before 8am we determined that I15’s were still with the A5s. On the VHF radio Eagle 53 reported that orcas were off Stubbs Island (north Weynton Pass) headed towards Donegal Head. The whales who had been in Johnstone Strait the day before were now committed to going onward to Queen Charlotte Strait. From 8:08am we heard some A5/I15 calls very sporadically until around 8:45am when they passed out of our range. By 09:25am the orcas were now off the White Cliff Islets and continuing west towards Fife Sound. We, meanwhile, spent most of our morning enthralled by the sleepy goings on at Sealion Rock. However, not all the sea lions were on the rocks, several were still in the water and we witnessed one thrashing about just off the Lab. When we investigated further using the remote Lab camera we realised he was gulping down a large octopus with flailing tentacles.. At 11:23am Knight Inlet Lodge reported that the generally westbound orcas were now resting off of the Penfolds. At 12:46pm we got the welcomed news from Jared Towers that the A23s, A25s, and perhaps the A54s and the I65’s, were slowly westing just off Lizard Point. These groups had not been around for a while and had probably returned to reconnect with the others. Kate Brauer, at Bere Point on Malcolm Island, saw a breakaway group of orcas come in for a 20 minute rub then continue westward. Meanwhile, at the Lab the reality that the orcas were probably not interested in returning to Johnstone Strait anytime soon began to dawn. But the day was not without events. At around 15:4pm Shari began to hear a humpback in Blackfish Sound. After gearing up for a little while he burst into a fantastic song for over 30 minutes. There was very little boat noise and it really was a joy. A lovely end to Shari’s time at the Lab as she is scheduled to head back to the UK for the winter. She will be greatly missed by all and we look forward to her return next year. Karien headed over to CP for the evening, trading places with Alicia. Wonderful roofer, carpenter and handyman Mark McCallum, his partner Lexi, and their son Arther arrived in the late afternoon. This was Arthur’s 3rd birthday and we soon sat down to dinner followed by celebratory chocolate cupcakes decorated with candles, strawberries and whipped cream! As darkness set in we hoped the orcas would return soon and that we would hear their calls through the night once more!

OrcaLab
17 Sep 2019 09:39:44 PDT



Summary for September 15 2019: A42, I4, I27, I16, I65 and possible I31s The rest of the night was quiet until 2:05am when there were again calls in Johnstone Strait. Somehow and sometime the groups found their way back to Johnstone Strait, possibly through Weynton Pass which they seem to favour as a route to and from these days. The calls lasted until 4:31am. The whales seemed to be very spread out from Cracroft Point to Robson Bight, a pattern they continued into the rest of the day. Generally, the movement was east and very slow. By 6am, some of the I15s were off the Main Rubbing Beach making clear and lovely calls. They were joined by the A42s soon after. Neither group showed any interest in having a rub but continued on their way past the Reserve. Even though they became quiet by 8am we could follow their progress eastward on the remote camera. For a short time a humpback called around 9am in Blackfish Sound and for a very long time the sea lions relaxed on their rocks. We became very busy around the Lab organising for a dive to retrieve Marion Poupard’s hydrophone array located just off the Lab. This required going over to CP and getting Suzie and Alicia to help. We set Quin down at CP to look after things there and allow him to get a feel for Johnstone Strait and the camp. Once Alicia and Suzie were back, Suzie and Megan donned their dive suits and gear and prepared to dive. Getting this equipment back to the surface with its long cable and sensitive equipment is fairly complicated and required everyone to help. The dive was very successful and as Alicia attended to the equipment Megan and Suzie regaled everyone of how curious sea lions came to check them out as they dove. Hot tea and showers were the order of the day afterwards. Alicia and Suzie went back to CP. By this time Bill Mckay had reported finding the whales stalled off Cedarstedt Creek at 12:44pm. Then at 2:41pm Bill reported orcas off the Adams River. With an incredibly slow turn these whales finally began to move west. No one was in a hurry and like before, they were very spread out. We did not hear any calls on the rubbing beach system (our most easterly hydrophone) until 3:29pm and the calls were still very distant and we did not see anyone until 3:46pm. These whales were right across the Strait closer to the Cracroft Island side. There was again no interest in a rub even by whales closer to the Vancouver Island side. After some milling or pacing back and forth some of the I15s passed offshore of Robson Bight. Most of the calls so far were those of the I15s, sometimes excited and mostly on the Robson Bight system to the west of the Main Rubbing Beach. There were a few calls reminiscent of the I31s so we wondered if they had joined the others sometime during the night before everyone returned to Johnstone Strait. Just before 5pm we began to hear the A42s on the rubbing beach system. They too were incredibly distant. And we guessed (correctly) that they too were closer to the Cracroft Island side. In the distance, off the “Spirit of the West” camp east of Boat Bay at 6:30pm, we could just make out their fins as they carried on to the west. By this time the lead I15s were being picked up by the Cracroft Point system as they passed the area off of Izumi rock west of Robson Bight. Their blows were clearly visible by CP and the remote cameras. It was disappointing to see that the same boat which had followed the whales continually up the Strait was still there and still too close. Slowly the train of orcas moved closer and closer to Kaikash and CP. Suzie and Alicia supplied the Lab with updates as to their progress. By 7:30pm, some of the I15s were approaching the CP area. Taking their time, several whales milled off the entrance to Blackney Pass. We were hopeful that they might fully commit to coming into Blackney but they didn’t and eventually these whales stayed Strait side and pushed on toward the eastern end of Hanson Island. The day had turned sunny earlier and the evening became spectacular. The ocean was calm and the sky bright with hues of red, orange and pink. At 7:48pm both the A42s and more of the G clan whales were crossing the entrance to Blackney Pass. After more hesitations the array of whales eventually passed the entrance of Blackney and carried on up the Strait calling pretty much the entire time. Alicia and Suzie absorbed the fading light, and listened to the distancing calls, while the Lab did exactly the same around the corner in Blackney.

OrcaLab
16 Sep 2019 00:36:32 PDT



Summary for September 14 2019: I4s, I16s, I27s?, I65s Getting it together! Yesterday the I15 groups in Johnstone Strait were so difficult to track. The weather conditions were lousy (although rain is always welcome) for watching whales and the orcas were so quiet for long periods of time. We did hear them between 11:31pm and 11:47pm when they were off the entrance to Blackney Pass probably nearer to the Vancouver Island shore and most likely heading east once again. We need to offer a correction. The I15 groups yesterday (September 13) were reported to be the I4s and the I65s but this was later (after the summary was posted) corrected to be the I16s and the I4s. This contributed to continued confusion today. All was pretty quiet from midnight till morning. The humpbacks began moving into Blackney mid morning. Again there were several at a time in the Pass and they were fairly active foraging. At 11:41am (12 hours after we heard the last I15 calls) there was a report of Northern Residents heading west off Stimpson Reef east of West Cracroft Island. This would turn out to be the I16s and the I4s when they were identified later after reaching the area off the Adams River at 1:45pm around the same time other orcas were spotted heading east from Donegal Head. These orcas would turn out to be the I65s with possibly the I27s. An hour passed before the I65s (and I27s) were about to enter Johnstone Strait from Weynton Island. We heard their calls a few minutes later at 4:53pm. It was not clear to everyone which whales were actually in the Strait and to add to the confusion the groups from the east (the I16s and the I4s) were getting closer to those coming from the west. As we only heard I15 calls (except for the few dolphin calls off the Main rubbing beach at 3:11pm) we were not convinced that there were any other groups present other than I15 families. We spent a lot of time trying to sort out the various reports, what we were hearing, and what we were watching on the remote cameras. By 4pm, the coming together of the entire I15s was well underway off the Izumi Rock area. By 4:20pm, the whales were all westbound now but quite spread out. Between 5:33pm and 5:48pm the majority had passed Cracroft Point and the entrance to Blackney Pass. The last group headed west with dolphins in tow closer to the Hanson Island shore just before 6pm. They were headed for Weynton Pass but now all together as a family once again. A humpback somewhere off Parson Island began to warm up vocally for the night ahead just after 6pm and as the I15s came around Hanson Island to Blackfish Sound at 7:31pm another, or perhaps the same, humpback chimed in with the orca and dolphin calls. There were a few more faint I15 calls at 8pm. Other happenings around the Lab. We had a changing of the guard at “CP”. Megan and Shari traded places with Alicia and Suzie in the afternoon. Suzie saw a sea otter just off the CP platform at 6:22pm. This and the orcas going by was certainly a nice start to their stay at the camp. Quin stayed on today and spent most of his time in the Lab, hearing for the first time orcas in real time! The sea lions really seemed to settle on to the local rocks today. Never fails to impress how they make rocks look so comfortable. The humpbacks were equally impressive lunge and trap feeding, rolling with dolphins, breaching and just simply being.

OrcaLab
14 Sep 2019 22:45:38 PDT



Summary for September 13 2019: I4s, I65s, T109, T109E, T109Ds Even though the pass-by in the dark would not reveal which of the I15 families were present, we made a guess as they passed through the last part of Blackey Pass on their way to Johnstone Strait, that it was most likely the I4s, I27s and I65s, a combination that had been prevalent earlier in the summer. We only read Jared Towers’ message later that this was who he had seen heading into Blackfish Sound earlier. The I16s were not there this time. Even though there were quite a few orcas it was impossible to track their movements in Johnstone Strait after they became silent at 9:27pm. All then remained uneventful until a humpback somewhere near Parson Island decided to announce his presence with the beginnings of a song at 3:08am. Further out in the Strait the I15s began calling as well. Though the humpback remained somewhat stationary the I15s seemed like they were heading west towards Weynton Passage. This loose duet of humpback and orca continued in bouts off and on until 4:15am. The humpback then had one last brief go at 5:09am and a few dolphins chimed in a few minutes later. We believe by this time the I15 families had travelled out through Weynton Passage. They were found off the western end of Blackfish Sound at 8:10am as they headed to Weynton Pass once again. We had other distractions by this time as Dylan, Claire and Jeremie prepared to leave Hanson Island. Their departure was coupled with a “town-run” so there was a lot of activity as laundry, grocery lists, garbage were organised. Remnants of the last southeaster was evident as rain came in fits and starts through the morning. Eventually, and almost on time, the “June Cove” departed but not before last minute hugs and well wishes for those leaving. With Karien temporarily leaving as well with Paul to help with town run chores and work on the new Orcalab website, Alicia and Helena,were the only ones staying. The day had not, so far, seemed too challenging but as the hours ticked away several events began to unfold. The I15s had managed to get into Johnstone Strait and by 10:31am they were reported between Blinkhorn and Kaikash Creek heading east. Their trail then grew cold. The rain had turned to drizzle and with it mist and low cloud - not quite foggy but the effect was similar. This made it impossible for Megan and Shari at “CP” to locate the whales. There was not a chance for the remote cameras either. To make things even harder the whales were completely silent. There was slightly more success with watching humpbacks in Blackney Pass but as they were on the far side they too had the advantage of distance and the same misty conditions. Their identities were elusive also. We could tell, however, that there were several. They shared the space with a few dolphins who came out of White Beach Pass at 11:55am. T109, T09E and the T109Ds travelled east past Port McNeill by 12:16pm and before 1pm a humpback let loose with a few very loud sounds. These were over before they could be located. However, the I15s (specifically the I4s and I65s, there was no mention of the I27s) had been found by the whale watch boats and were being followed as they continued to move east between Kaikash and Izumi Rock at 12:47pm. The Reserve seemed to be their destination. They obliged with a few vocals at 1:51pm which they repeated closer to Robson Bight at 2:30pm. Following these few sparse leads we watched for them on the remote cameras. After an hour we saw just one male moving inshore off Strider Beach. A group of dolphins chatted their way past the Main Rubbing Beach soon after. Under the cover of the misty conditions the I15s must have moved back to the west undetected. Meanwhile, just before 4pm there was a report of a group of Bigg’s orcas heading east close to the Hanson Island shore. This seemed promising. Perhaps they would come close enough for identification. It was not to be. By the time (4:38pm) they were in Blackney Pass they had shifted over to the very far side. Despite being directly opposite the Lab, they like the humpbacks, and the I15s in the Strait before, were shrouded in mist and rain. The small group crossed Parson Bay, went behind the Light and then disappeared before 5pm. Later, talking with Jared about the composition of the group he suggested they might be the same Bigg’s, those T109s, who had been seen off Port McNeill earlier. Through the day humpbacks continued to be vocal for brief, fleeting moments. Finally, at 5:43pm the I15s also vocalised when they transited across the entrance to Blackney Pass on the far side of the Strait. Shari heard their blows briefly when they were closer to Kaikash Creek. By 6pm we were faced with silence once again and could only assume the I15s carried on to the west a while longer. Before nightfall, the “June Cove” arrived back and was unloaded and we had a late, uninterrupted by whales, dinner. We welcomed and enjoyed the company of former volunteer Suzie Hall along with Quin McIntire who was visiting for the night.

OrcaLab
14 Sep 2019 00:38:58 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Summary for September 12, 2019. I15s. Last night was a blustery night on Hanson Island. With all of the tents pulled down, and everyone moved indoors, we hunkered down for the night. Waves crashed against the deck of the lab and the windows rattled from the wind. Branches draped in Spanish moss tugged to and fro by powerful gusts, casting shadows on the walls of the lab. A short burst of humpback squeaks and groans filled the silence coming from the speakers. As the storm roared on, another humpback seemed to half heartedly sing his song over the noise of a tugboat in the early hours of the morning. The remainder of the night was quiet on the hydrophones, but the storm outside continued as the wind blew strong and the waves continued their relentless push. Rain soon followed, and you could hear the droplets on the roof above the lab. The weather seemed to hold steady as the morning light began to flood our windows. We had no reports of orcas, and before we knew it, it was already after noon. Throughout the day we were able to count at least 7 humpbacks feeding, milling and travelling through Blackney Pass. The rough water made it difficult to see their bodies, but their blows gave away their positions. During this time we also had a single sea lion move up onto the haul out rock just beneath the Sea Lion Rock camera. He very slowly fell into a quiet state, laying on the rock, fighting to stay awake. He stayed there resting for at least an hour before slowly slipping back into the water without notice. By 4:00pm the rain began to pour, hopefully filling the creeks and rivers to help aid the local salmon runs and their journey back home. We began to wonder if we were going to go another day without hearing about the resident orcas. However, at 5:28pm, we finally received a report of orcas travelling east between Lizard Point and Donegal Head. We started a recording early, expecting to start hearing calls on the Flower Island hydrophone. Would the orcas come through Blackney Pass, or would they opt to go through Weynton Passage into Johnstone Strait? The evenings light filled Blackney Pass, and during a break from the rain a small rainbow opened up just opposite of the lab. Finally, the first calls arrived at 6:14pm and we heard the oh so familiar sounds of the I15 matrilines. We could just barely pick out dorsal fins coming from the North on our Sea Lion Rock camera, but they were not easy to follow. The orcas were very slow, moving against an ebbing tide. They started to become quiet on the Flower Island hydrophone...had they gone up Weynton Pass? There were no calls for 10 minutes until at 8:20pm we could hear some very faint echolocation coming from the direction of Flower Island. Next followed some very faint and sporadic I15 calls on the local left hydrophone at 8:35pm. The light had all but completely faded at this point, but we remained on deck to listen for blows. By 8:43pm we heard the first group. It sounded like a group of 4 first entering the pass, followed by what sounded like another group of 7. There were only a few calls here and there as the orcas passed by the lab. They moved quite slowly, taking their time as they moved southward in line with the light of the moon. Finally by 9:27pm we could no longer hear any blows. We wonder exactly what make up of the I15s could have passed by the lab. Was everyone together? Or had a small combination of the family returned from the north? Tomorrow will tell. The wind has quieted down, and the orcas have returned to the Strait. Tomorrow we say goodbye to three of our assistants, Jeremie, Claire and Dylan, and welcome back Suzie to the lab. Things are always in a state of movement here at OrcaLab. The weather, the volunteers, and of course the whales.

Orcalab
12 Sep 2019 22:29:36 PDT



Summary for September 11th, 2019. T060s, T002B, T059 and humpbacks! We have a shorter summary today, but that does not mean it was any less interesting of a day! We hadn’t had the recorder going since the previous night when the Northern Residents orcas had made their pass to the North through Blackney Pass. Our night shift began with a humpback who began to sing shortly after 11:30pm. The humpbacks song was slightly difficult to hear as the local boat noise was still quite high for the evening, a tugboat had just passed Flower Island and was slowing chugging away to the North. The humpback continued to sing: low guttural sounds with squeaks and eerie notes mixed in. By 12:10am the song had concluded and the rest of the night was quiet. Our morning started off with a beautiful sunrise and clouds that looked to promise rain by the late afternoon. As we were settling into our morning routine, we received a report at 9:45am from the Discovery Skiff that the kayak camp had orcas heading west past the Sophia Islands, aiming towards Cracroft Point. The report was that there were 8 orcas, including 1 male and 6 smaller individuals. Had a group of residents silently slipped by us during the night or was this a group of Bigg’s? Megan and Shari at “CP” were able to snap an ID shot of the big male in the group, T060C. One big piece of the puzzle checked off! Now who were the remaining individuals? The orcas made good time and by 10:07am they were into our view at the South end of Blackney Pass. The group of Bigg’s remained silent, but became very active. We could see them porpoising and displaying bursts of speed. It looked as if the hunt was on, and a sea lion was caught in the middle of it. We believe that the sea lion got away, as just a short time later the orcas had slowed their movements and were aiming towards one of the nearby sea lion haulouts along the Hanson Island shoreline. The Bigg’s group came very close to shore, and passed by quite closely to our Sea Lion Rock camera. There was a group of anxious sea lions hanging out in front of their haul out spot, all grouped together and craning their necks high above the water to get a better view. Safety in numbers appeared to work as the Bigg’s continued onward, apparently uninterested in picking a fight with the large group. As the orcas came closer to the lab we were able to count 8 individuals, one of which that looked to be a newborn baby! As they passed opposite of the lab we snapped some shots of the very young orca, as well as the rest of the group. The baby stayed extremely close to its mother who we ID’d as T060, a forty year old mother of 5! We were able to account for all of the T060s, as well as T002B and T059 in the makeup of the group. The 8 orcas continued on their way North, pausing briefly while pointing towards a group of 3-4 humpbacks. Apparently uninterested in picking a fight with their much larger neighbours, they continued northward and cleared our view at 10:55am. The afternoon came and went, and we were able to watch humpbacks lunge feeding, and tail lobbing on the far side of the pass. We were unable to get ID photos of these whales, but during the business of the Bigg’s passing earlier in the morning, one of our volunteers, Claire, was able to snap a shot of BCY0409 or “Yogi” the humpback. The rest of our day was quiet as we made preparations around the lab for the coming southeasterly winds. One of the first “storms” of the year was about to pass through the area. With our rain buckets out, and the boats pulled in close, we continue to listen for the next sign of who we will encounter next.

OrcaLab
12 Sep 2019 12:27:34 PDT



Summary for September 10, 2019. I15s, I31s, A42s. We don’t have many nights absent of orcas calling, but last night was an exception. However, it wasn’t completely quiet. Our day started before the sun, as a Humpback began to warm up their vocal chords at 2:48am and eventually broke into song at 3:19am. This beautiful melody continued on our Flower Island hydrophone until 3:40am when it was interrupted and squelched by a passing boat. Before the humpback had finished, we began to hear A5 calls at 3:32am calling from Robson Bight, their calls were quite distant and infrequent. These calls continued for several hours and completely faded into silence just after 7:00am. Not long after that, at 7:12am we began to hear I15 vocalizations ring through our Flower Island hydrophone at close range. Within an hour these calls had begun to fade. We pieced together that the orcas must had taken Weynton Passage into Johnstone Strait as we began to pick up on our Cracroft Point hydrophone at 8:56am. The foggy morning made tracking the residents difficult, but just after 10:00am Megan reported that I76 had been identified easting along the Hanson Island shore while others were easting between Blinkhorn Peninsula and Little Kaikash Creek. At 10:49am we could see black fins emerging from the fog that had engulfed the Strait throughout the morning. We watched as the orcas moved past the entrance to Blackney Pass and made quick time past Cracroft point on their way east. By 11:24am we picked up faint calls on our Robson Bight hydrophone, and waited for them to appear on our cameras. Just after 12:00pm, we finally saw members of the I15s, I35s and A42s on our Robson Bight camera. The I35s could be seen moving on a direct course for the Robson Bight camera. We watched them come closer and closer, and their calls continued to get louder. We were treated to some very clear vocals as the orcas passed by our hydrophone and continued on to the east. The A42s and I15s remained further off shore, but seemed destined to end up at the rubbing beaches past the Bight. Finally at 1:05pm the orcas arrived at the Main Rubbing Beach to have a wild and wonderful time, rubbing and vocalizing throughout. We identified members of the I15s and the A42s. We could hear them releasing air to lower themselves onto the pebbles, and heard the pebbles move as they rubbed. Their calls were loud, clear, excited and exhilarated. There were so many individuals at the beach, we had trouble deciding where to point the camera! Here at the lab, we were beside ourselves as we watched multiple passes on both our above and underwater cameras - it was an incredible afternoon. After this unreal session at the Main Rubbing Beach, the I15s and A42s turned west again and meandered into the Bight shortly after 1:20pm. The episode at the beach wasn’t quite over as by 1:34pm we saw more orcas arriving at the beach! A group of 8 individuals passed by the underwater camera all grouped fairly tight with one another. They appeared to be more individuals from the I15s. They did not stay as long as the previous orcas, and by 1:44pm they had finished at the beach and were aimed back in the direction of the Bight. We followed the groups back to the Bight at around 2:05pm, but as they continued west we only heard and saw them sporadically throughout the afternoon. Then at 3:36pm, we began to hear close calls at Cracroft Point. Shortly after at 4:02pm, Shari reported a male and three small fins moving past the Cracroft Point platform, heading west, with more orca crossing the Johnstone Strait from Kaikash, angling toward Blackney Pass. For the next hour, we had calls on our Cracroft Point, Robson Bight and Parson Island hydrophones. Then finally, at 5:45pm, the A42s and the I35s decided to take to the Pass at speed. They traveled together as they moved north, led by A42 and her little ones A103 and A114. They were very vocal on our OrcaLab hydrophone, and cleared Blackney by 5:56pm. As they left Blackney Pass, we began to hear them on Flower Island and listened to their calls fade away to the North. The lab was quite calm for a short while, thinking we were done with the action of the day, until suddenly, at 7:26pm, we saw more orca entering the Pass from the south! We were caught slightly off guard as we did not hear any calls prior to seeing them in the pass. We had the I16s, I4s and I65s traveling north, all together, mid-channel. As they got closer to the lab they vocalized several times quite clearly on our OrcaLab hydrophone. They cleared Blackney Pass at 7:43pm, a very quick encounter! It was truly an action-packed, vibrant day here at OrcaLab. It is always such a privilege to witness the beauty and joy of the Northern Resident orcas.

OrcaLab
11 Sep 2019 08:28:12 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Summary for September 9th, 2019. I15s, I35s, A42s. Todays summary picks up where we left off yesterday evening. We were following the A42s and the I15s as they made their way west in the Strait from the reserve. We had been picking up distant calls on the Robson Bight hydrophone, and at this point the calls had migrated along with the whales to the Cracroft Point hydrophone. Would the groups come up through Blackney Passage? Or would they continue west in Johnstone Strait? It didn’t sound as though the orcas would come any closer as their calls began to fade from “CP” around 10:22pm. Not too long after, at 10:39pm, we could hear some very faint G-clan calls on the Flower Island hydrophone. This seemed to be a bit too quick to have been the same whales. Perhaps it was the I35s waiting to the North for a meet up? They had been seen in the area, but they had managed to skirt the range of our hydrophones for the duration of the day. A short time later, we could hear clear A5 calls on the Flower Island hydrophone as well as some very quiet I15 pings at 11:14pm. The timing of these calls would seem to be correct if the orcas had decided to take Weynton into Blackfish Sound. We didn’t hear them for much longer, as by 11:40pm the last calls were heard by the lab until the late this morning. The early morning shift was quiet, but Karien was able to identify “Guardian” the humpback traveling past in front of the lab. The morning progressed and at 10:41am, Bill Mackay on the Naiad Explorer reported that he was with the I4s and I27s just past Stubbs Island in Weynton Passage. Expecting them to arrive in the Johnstone Strait, we began to listen closely to the Cracroft Point hydrophone. Sure enough, at 10:58am we heard the first faint calls, G clan! By 11:30am we were able to see blows on the Vancouver Island side of the strait, slowly easting near Kaikash Creek. Twenty minutes later, we had a report from Jackie Hildering that the group of orcas consisted of the I15s and I35s and at 11:58am, the Naiad reported that the A42s were at the edge of the Stephensons reef, heading into the Johnstone Strait. We started to hear the A42s at 12:19pm and they appeared to favour the Vancouver Island shore while making their way east. The I15s and I35s had made their way to the tide rips at Cracroft Point shortly after noon, where they stopped to forage amongst several humpbacks, porpoises, and even several whale watching boats. The foraging episode lasted nearly an hour. We watched them on the “CP” camera until 1:16pm before the orcas started to trend towards the east, all spread out. The calls began to get quieter at 1:23pm, but we could still hear all three of the groups on the hydrophones. Shari, at “CP”, said she could see the A42s easting along the Vancouver Island shoreline during this time. At 1:47pm The I15 and I35 group of orcas could still be seen and it looked as if they were making a turn back to the west. We noted that the current was ebbing until 9:30pm, and it seemed likely that the orcas would make a move and ride the current to the North. Sure enough the groups turned west and at 3:23pm Shari provided us with early warning that the orcas were definitely angling into Blackney Passage. We were still hearing I15 calls and few very faint I35 calls and they soon were only audible on the Parson Island hydrophone. We began to scan to the south edge of our view, and at 3:43pm we saw black dorsal fins enter our view from the South. We could identify the I27s in the lead followed not too long after by who we believed to be the I16s and the I65s. The lead orcas made good time with the tide and they were already to Parson Light by 3:48pm. Around this same time we could hear A5 calls on the Robson Bight hydrophone so we knew the A42s were beginning to get closer the reserve. Back at the lab, we watched as several orcas, one being a “sprouter” male, take a quick break from travelling to forage. After a brief delay, the 3 groups continued North and cleared the view of the lab at 4:13pm. As soon as these groups had cleared, the I4s and two others appeared on the South edge of the labs view. They moved very quickly through the pass, and trailing that group was I76. He soon caught up to the others, and they all aimed straight for the north with very little time for pause. Only 7 minutes later, all of the orcas had cleared to the north. Their calls became more and more quiet before going silent at 4:57pm. Back in Johnstone Strait, at 4:41pm, we began to hear very clear A5 calls on our Robson Bight hydrophone. We were able to see A66 clearly on the camera and watched as he and his family continued their journey east. We hoped they had intentions to go to the rubbing beach! We started the clock. If all was in order, within 20 minutes we should start to see fins on the camera! Then, exactly 20 minutes later, we heard faint calls at the Rubbing Beach. We scanned for several minutes before zoning in on the orcas with the camera. At 5:19pm we watched as 3-4 orcas swam along the beach close to shore as they rubbed, making several passes in front of our underwater camera. They were both calling and echolocating while they moved back and forth along the beach. Within 15 minutes the orcas had finished at the rubbing beach and at 5:37pm they made a turn back to the west. Just like clockwork, at 5:54pm we began to hear them again within the bight. They came very close to the hydrophone as they moved through the reserve. Several very loud calls later they were already deeper into the Bight. They foraged there for around 30 minutes and were joined by some playful pacific white-sided dolphins. By 6:32pm the A42s were past the western boundary of the reserve and became quiet at 7:00pm. Our predictions of their moments for the day had been quite good up until this point. We expected some silence while the whales travelled back west, and if all was in order, we would hear them on the Cracroft Point hydrophone shortly. Unfortunately, we are not as good at being orcas as they are! After a very quiet hour, the A42s had slipped away out of our view only to surprise us by surfacing back on the Rubbing Beach cameras! At 8:18pm, in the fading light, we watched another beautiful session at the Rubbing Beach. The orcas remained silent and stayed for several passes, and at 8:30pm they appeared to head to the east…

OrcaLab
09 Sep 2019 23:38:34 PDT



Summary for September 8, 2019. I15s, A42s. A day of travels. We left off yesterdays summary with the I35s, I15s and the A42s making way their way to Robson Bight shortly after 9:00pm. The groups continued to make their way to the east before stopping off for a relatively lengthy visit to the Rubbing Beach. At 9:13pm we could hear the I15s on the rubbing beach hydrophone where they continued to linger until nearly 1:00am this morning! The A5s (presumably the A42s) could also be heard with the I15s until 9:51pm when their last calls trailed off into the night. Were the I35s with them but travelling silent? The rest of the night was quiet until 7:15am this morning when we began to hear echolocation and distant A5 calls on the Rubbing Beach hydrophone. We could just barely make out the orcas dorsal fins on the cameras through the fog. The I15s must have been silent travellers up until this point, as by 7:30am their calls were now on the Robson Bight hydrophone. Then began a very slow movement towards the west and a day filled with travel. The G clan (were the I35s there too with the I15s) calls continued and we monitored their slow progress west in Johnstone Strait. At 8:30am we received a report from a kayak camp that the orcas had reached the Sophia’s Islands and were spread in small groups from the Cracroft Island side across to the Vancouver Island side of the Strait. At 9:12am, Megan and Shari at “CP” were able to make out several black fins amongst the fog and could hear many more blows beyond the line of vision. The calls continued to remain distant, but we could now hear them on on the Cracroft Point hydrophone as well as they continued west. It was difficult to keep track of the orcas in the fog, but we were able to identify one group which appeared to be the I4s from the I15s as they passed by “CP” around 10:00am. The orcas did not appear to be in any rush, nor did they make any sudden changes in their direction. They worked their way along the Strait before making a slow turn somewhere near Blinkhorn Peninsula. At 1:07pm The Naiad Explorer reported that a group of orcas were now travelling east on the Vancouver Island shoreline and we could acoustically confirm that at least the I15s were still within that group. It seemed that the orcas were content with retracing their steps back towards the Reserve. Their blows were just barely visible from the Cracroft Point camera and by 2:20pm, the “CP” platform once again had a clear, but distant, visual. Throughout this period, the I15s continued to call in a fairly consistent matter. The team at “CP” was able to identify the I27s mid strait, and could see at least 10 orcas, including a large male and least one other “sprouter”, much closer to the Vancouver Island shoreline, all travelling east. Meanwhile, the Lab was following these same groups on the remote camera. Finally, at 4:26pm we had a clear view of a group of 4 orcas on the Robson Bight camera. They were quite active within the reserve: spy hopping, diving, rolling over while producing excited sounding calls. As those individuals approached the hydrophones, and the others nearby, we were able to listen to some very beautiful I15 calls, up close and personal! The orcas stayed true to the day's theme of travel, and continued on east in the Reserve before making another stop over at the Main Rubbing Beach. At 5:23pm we could hear I15 calls at the beach and at 7:19pm we had the privilege to watch the orcas rubbing on the smooth rocks in the shallow bay. We were able to capture some incredible video on the underwater camera of eight orcas passing by! You could even see one juvenile orca blowing bubbles while making a pass over the beach. What a show! At 7:21pm we heard the returning A42s as they neared the Main Rubbing Beach. The rub continued until 7:27pm before the orcas made one more turn back to the west. We picked up their calls once more within Robson Bight at 7:49pm as both groups, the A42s and the I15s and possibly the I35s as well, traveled west. We watched them on the camera as a few groups milled about within the Reserve before following out several others who had already began to swim in the direction of the setting sun. And like any good story, we will leave things there and pick up where we left off tomorrow!

OrcaLab
09 Sep 2019 08:37:07 PDT



Summary for September 7th, 2019. A42s, I35s, I15s, T007Bs, T109Bs,Cs. Continued Silence. It had been over 24 hours since we last heard northern resident calls on the hydrophones. At one point early in the morning, one of the lab assistants thought he heard a few very distant calls after 6:09am. A recording was started, but then ended very shortly afterwards when no further calls were heard. Perhaps he heard something - or, perhaps the silence was beginning to play tricks on our minds? The rest of the early morning was quiet, until just a bit after 10:00am when we received a report there were northern resident orcas seen in Queen Charlotte Strait, slowly westing along the Malcolm Island shoreline. Finally, an update on their whereabouts! We continued to listen for further reports as we were unsure of exactly who was there. The days interest continued to increase as at 1:16pm, Megan at CP reported that the T109Bs and the T109Cs had been spotted travelling west in Johnstone Strait between Kaikash and little Kaikash Creek. These are the same Bigg’s orcas that we tracked travelling east yesterday afternoon throughout the Strait. We kept an ear tuned into their movements and at 1:59pm there was a report that a group of Bigg’s killed a steller sea lion at Sprout Island. This group was believed to be the T109Bs and Cs. Soon after, Farewell Harbour reported over the radio that there were Bigg’s in Blackfish Sound taking long dives while aiming towards White Beach Pass. By 2:46pm we spotted the fins at the lab: a group of 4, made up of one “sprouter” male, two smaller fins, and one juvenile fin. This group looked nothing like the T109B/Cs that had been reported earlier, and after a quick look we were able to identify them as the T007Bs. They traveled in a close group, coming up multiple times in one location and then diving for long periods of time before re-surfacing. They moved slowly south, letting the currents turn them around and push them back and forth. At 3:22pm they were in Parson Bay and became quite active. To our team on the deck, and the whale watching vessels on the VHF, it seemed like this group was hunting. They were jumping, wiggling and wrestling. The steller sea lions were quite distressed and began porpoising and tumbling towards Parson Island Light. The Bigg’s continued slowly south and cleared the view of the lab at 3:52pm. The story transitioned to Cracroft Point as Megan patiently awaited a first glimpse. There were several Dall’s porpoises speedily porpoising out of Blackney Passage… odd… then followed quickly by 4 Bigg’s orcas porpoising and matching their speed, racing into Johnstone Strait! It didn’t take long before several large splashes could be seen, and it looked as though an attempt had been made to catch one of the Dall’s. Whether or not they were successful, we are unsure. As quickly as the chase happened, it finished and the entire group immediately fell into step, slowed their pace, and continued east down the strait. Whilst all this was occurring, we knew by 2:00pm that the resident orcas travelling along Malcolm Island had made it past Lizard Point and were now adjacent to Donegal Head, aiming into Blackfish Sound. At 5:17pm we finally began to hear I15 and A5 calls on the Flower Island Hydrophone. Jared Towers, who was out on the water confirmed the presence of the I35s, I16s, and the A42s all heading east down Blackfish Sound. We saw our first dorsal fin at 5:56pm and waves of small scattered groups of orcas continued to enter the Pass until 6:49pm. We picked our way through the groups and were able to identify members of each matriline. A79 and her young baby along with the rest of the A42s were a nice sight as it had been several days since we had seen them in person. All of the groups exited Blackney Pass by 7:01pm, with the last of the groups surfing and playing in the wake of a tugboat that had passed by moments earlier. All of the groups passed by Cracroft Point not long after on their way to Robson Bight, lead by members of the I35s (I104 and I146),  and followed closely by the A42s, the rest of the I35s, and the I16s (potentially the I27s as well). By 8 o’clock we could hear their calls distantly on the Robson Bight hydrophone as all of the groups made their way to the Reserve. We welcomed the busy afternoon after a quiet last day and a half, and settle into our nightly routine.

OrcaLab
07 Sep 2019 23:44:09 PDT



No orcas present.

Summary for September 6th, 2019. T109Bs, T109Cs. After a spectacular Thursday evening we were met with a relatively quiet day at the lab. The surreal encounter with A61, A85 and her newborn calf passing the lab yesterday evening will be a highlight we will all remember for years to come. In what seemed like a ceremonial procession, the A25s had lead their new family member through the waters of Blackney Pass and into Johnstone Strait, followed not too far behind by the A30s, I35s, and G27s. We pick up where our last summary ended: the lead I15 groups continued to call from the reserve as we were able to hear them echolocating until shortly after 9:30pm. Not long after the I15s became quiet we picked up A30s calls on the Cracroft Point hydrophone as well as distant A30 calls on the Robson Bight hydrophone at 9:59pm. Perhaps the A50s and A54s had altered pace? All would become clear, as at 10:10pm Shari at “CP” reported the orcas were now mid Strait, and it seemed as though a decision was made to turn back to the North with the ebbing tide. By 10:24 we could once again hear calls on the Parson Island hydrophone and at 10:31pm we could still hear some final calls at “CP”. The orcas began to quiet down as they made their way back through Blackney Pass. We were able to track them by their blows as they travelled north in front of the lab. 5 blows? 20 now? Perhaps another group of 5 blows? Very quickly they proceeded along and by 11:18pm all of the orcas had cleared the “view” of the lab. We suspect all of the groups that had come through earlier in the evening had gone back to the North. Did the I15s remain to the east? The only other hint we received was at 11:21pm when we picked up very clear A5 calls on the Flower Island hydrophone before all went silent once more. The silence was a sign to come as the rest of the night was filled with the noise of passing tugs and slow moving ships. The next morning came and went with the fog with no calls or reports of orcas to be heard. We enjoyed the company of several humpbacks milling about, back and forth between Blackfish Sound and Blackney Pass. We even had several friendly Harbour seals at the base of the Lab’s deck, swimming amongst the kelp. Finally at 2:38pm we received some news of approximately 12 orcas heading east near Hyde Creek. We followed their progress throughout the day and by 4:26pm they had reached Beaver Cove and were identified as several groups of Biggs! It seems as if there were three small groups all travelling together up until that point. By 5:29pm a small split occurred as the Ocean Magic 2 reported a group of four unidentified Bigg’s near the top end of Blackfish Sound, while at 5:49pm Jared Towers was able to ID the T109Bs and T109Cs easting past the Wastell Islets on the Vancouver Island side of the Strait. By approximately 7:40pm we had 7 Bigg’s orcas passing by the Robson Bight Camera and continuing east down the Strait, presumably the T109Bs and Cs. We finished our evening with a dinner by the fire in celebration of the newborn member of the A25 family. Although our day was quieter than usual, it allowed for some reflection and even some catch up on some daily duties. We are left to wonder where the orcas from the previous evening ended up and when we will hear word of them next. Every day there is something engaging to be a part of, what will tomorrow bring?

OrcaLab
06 Sep 2019 22:54:57 PDT



Summary for September 5 2019: A30, A25,A42, G27,I4,I16,I27,I65,I35, For this summary we need to start on the evening of September 4. We had been tracking the A42s shifting within the Ecological Reserve. We wondered about A66 who seemed to be pacing, sometimes heading east past the Main Rubbing Beach, sometimes back in the Bight. What was going on? An hour or so later the mystery began to unravel. Karien who was listening in the Lab was convinced she was hearing the A30s coming back from the east just after 10pm. There were A5 calls at the same time. This was a bit of a surprise as we had lost track of the A30s around 1am on September 2. At the time they had come south through Blackney Pass with A5s and then totally became silent on reaching the entrance to Blackney Pass. Today, we learned that the A30s had been seen in the lower parts of Johnstone Strait yesterday. The importance of this information will be revealed a little later in this summary (no peeking!) As the night wore on Karien kept listening and documenting the movement of the A30s and A5s (probably both the A25s and A42s) from the beaches to Robson Bight. By 11pm the last distant calls on the rubbing beach system were heard. Heavy boat noise made monitoring impossible between then and 12am (on the 5th). From 12:30am there were loud A5 calls in Robson Bight for the next half hour, then silence. During this time, at 12:48am G clan calls were heard in Blackfish Sound as well as distant As in Johnstone Strait through the once again heavy boat noise. But by 1:21am, the G clan calls (a mix of I15, I31and G12) had become clear and strong while the A5s had similarly become loud in Blackney Pass. The two, now converging groups, were calling to each other! Ten minutes later they met in Blackney Pass. At first there were the blows of the A5s and A30s going north. Then the blows of the G clan whales coming from the other direction. These groups met up off Compton Island and traveled south together through Blackney toward Johnstone Strait. By 2:30am Blackney fell silent of blows. By now the Lab shifts had changed and Alicia took over from Karien although she had already been outside listening to the blows and the orca meeting. This huge group called as they exited Blackney and continued as they most likely headed west along the Hanson Island shore (our guess). Calls continued on the Cracroft Point hydrophone until 5:02am and on Critical Point until just before 7am. During all of this, Pacific Whitesided dolphins became very vocal in Blackfish Sound beginning at 3:22am. We have not heard dolphins very often this year and this was the first sustained effort we were aware of. There was an incredible amount of boat noise, especially between 3:00am and 4:00am. Boat noise continued loudly until 6:00am. It was very trying. An hour after the distant calls ceased in Johnstone Strait, calls were heard in Blackfish Sound. The whales had circled around through Weynton Pass and were crossing the “top end” of Blackfish Sound. Of course there was fog. The day before had been so clear and beautiful we all knew the next morning was bound to be foggy. We could distinguish the same various groups, the A30s, A5s, I15s, G12s and I35s, who had passed through Blackney Pass in the dark earlier. Meanwhile, at 9:25am we realized that there were whales on the Main Rubbing Beach hydrophone and remote camera systems. With a smile we surmised that these were the A42s. All the others had moved on but the A42s had remained in the Strait once again. They had a quick rub and then headed west by 9:38am about the same time the other groups were off Donegal Head and headed toward Queen Charlotte Strait. The A42s were back off Robson Bight by 10:31am and the large group was now headed to the Foster Islands by 10:48am and on the “backside” of the Fosters by 11:04am. Meanwhile in Johnstone Strait, the A42s only called sporadically until 11:14am and proved rather difficult to track. We kept noting the various radio reports from the whale watch fleet following the large mixed group of whales spread out in Queen Charlotte Strait. Megan at “CP” is very good at relaying this information back to us. At 12:48pm, the Naiad Explorer was with the I4s and the I27s 2.5 miles west of Foster Island heading towards Numas Island and at 2:19pm, the Ocean Magic reported that a big group of orcas was easting at Lizard. This was encouraging!. At 2:53pm, the A42s, who had travelled west out of the Bight earlier, were now off Cracroft Point, west of the platform. Originally heading eastward they slowly and silently turned back west, tumbling over and around off the entrance to Blackney Pass. A66 was a bit behind the rest of his family as they headed west up the Hanson Island shore at 3:31pm. Helena and Paul, travelling to Telegraph Cove, spotted them at 4:19 heading west, mid strait, not quite to Blinkhorn with A66 now in the lead. There were calls at 4:18pm and then at 4:27pm the I4s, I16s, I65s and I27s headed south through Blackney Pass. The orcas were split into 3 groups travelling slowly and quite vocal as they passed. The groups began to leave our view from 4:47pm to 4:51pm travelling on toward Johnstone Strait where they crossed over to the Vancouver Island side. While this last scene was unfolding there were more orcas off the Plumper Islands that were beginning to head east in Blackfish Sound. By 6:15pm they were in Blackney Pass and in view of the Lab. And here is where we get back to the significance of the A30s and A25s coming back to the Reserve the previous evening (remember?). During the few days the A30s and the A25s disappeared to the east, Cordero (A85), had a baby! This is her first. She and her uncle, A61, along with the new little one, were the first group to come into the Pass. Word had already circulated about the baby so it was not a total surprise. But still! How very exciting and important. Cordero belongs to the A5 family. Her mother, Nodales (A51) died very young. Cordero was only little at the time and she was “taken in” by the A23s. A61 elected to travel with the A42s for about a year before he joined the A23s too. They have had quite the journey together. Cordero late last year began to spend a lot of time with A86 from the A30 matriline. Even after A86 had a baby earlier this year A85 continued to be her constant companion, bonded seemingly by their similar condition. It will be great to watch what these two new mothers now decide to do. The rest of the orcas, in Blackney at this time, included the A30s, I35s and G27s. The groups became one as they passed Compton Island mid channel. In this encounter, we had about 25 orcas all together, but there were initially no calls. As they all made their way south, we began to hear calls at 6:33pm as they navigated the last leg of the Pass before entering Johnstone Strait. The last individuals cleared our view at 6:35pm. Then at 6:45pm we heard G Clan pings on our CP hydrophone! From Cracroft the various groups, including the I15s who had entered earlier, continued east toward the Reserve by 7pm, some of the I15s even slipping down to the Main rubbing beach between 7:17pm and 9:06pm while others remained closer to the Bight. The mix of calls was wonderful - another highlight from this amazing day.

OrcaLab
06 Sep 2019 01:11:21 PDT



Summary for September 4 2019 A42, I35,I16,I27,G27,I4,I65 T69D When we last left off the A42s were making their way toward the Reserve. Around 10:35pm the whales were off Robson Bight. From there they headed east and definitely off the Main Rubbing Beach by 12:15am. No indication of a rub and the calls eventually ended by 1:15am as the A42s continued east. The rest of the night was pretty quiet except for a Humpback whale in front of the Lab. It was a clear and exceptionally beautiful morning. NO FOG! All was quiet until 7:08am when we began hearing very distant A5 calls in Johnstone Strait. We soon found these orca on the camera just past Robson Point, heading west close to the Vancouver Island shore. At 7:29am their distant calls faded into nothing and we stopped our recording at 8:03am. It was quiet until 9:07am when we again heard distant calls. Around this time, we received a report from Shari of orca crossing Johnstone Strait from the Vancouver Island side to Cracroft Island near the Sophia’s. Shari and Megan identified this group as the A42s who we located on the Cracroft Point camera at around 9:35am and at 9:51am their calls came in clear and close on the Cracroft Point system. Calls continued sporadically until 10:00am; close on “CP” and distant on Critical Point (Robson Bight). Then the story of the day became very interesting. The A42s, without A66, came into Blackney Pass at 10:41am. They were all together with Current (A79) slightly in the lead. They did not seem particularly worried that a member of their group was still back in Johnstone Strait. They carried on to Blackfish Sound. They were really the beginning of the long parade that was to follow. A66 meanwhile was seen heading to the east where a kayak group noticed him off Izumi Rock at 11:14am. Izumi is just west of the Reserve and by this time his family was in Blackfish Sound. The reason soon became apparent. Other groups were making their way to the west. These were the same groups who had puzzled us the day before when they came in and headed east so quickly. So here is what happened next. In advance of the whales coming west A66 turned and moved west “up” the Strait once again. Shari and Megan reported seeing him moving more quickly toward their camp from the Kaikash area at 11:51am. Kaikash is west of Izumi and opposite “CP”. By 12:10pm he was in our view in Blackney Pass. A66 was very efficient in travelling the length of the Pass with longish dives and a determined path. He was gone from our view by 12:17pm. On a side note the T69Ds were seen in Weynton Pass by the Naiad Explorer. The Bigg’s orcas managed to spook the many sea lions hauled out on the favoured Plumper Island rocks. By now, the westbound G clan families, in Johnstone Strait were making progress. CP became aware of the various pockets of whales spread out across the Strait. Some got as far west as Blinkhorn. By 1:07pm the first group came into our view after slipping into Blackney Pass. There had been a few G12 calls in the Strait but basically the whales offered little evidence as to who they were. The first group through had seven individuals and as they travelled on the far side it was difficult to identify them. We finally concluded that this group was probably the I35s. They were finished with the Pass by 1:39pm. The remaining groups in Johnstone Strait were beginning to approach Blackney Pass also. Next through were the I16s and the I27s who passed by between 1:16pm to 1:39pm. The I16s were mid channel and the I27s who followed were closer to the Hanson Island shore. There was a group of dolphins on the far side who were also interested in getting to Blackfish Sound. Thirteen minutes later, at 2:04pm, the G27s, I4s and I65s followed. The whales came in as a beautiful line-up close to the end of Hanson Island. Still favouring the Hanson side these groups filed past the Lab without slowing down. They were out of our view by 2:16pm. Impressive! However, there were very few vocalizations from any of the G clan groups. Yesterday we had plenty of calls and had made a list of who we thought must be around without very many visual clues to back up the acoustic assumptions. Today was the reverse but the conclusion was the same. This left the Strait temporarily empty of orcas for the time being. Before the various G clan groups carried on toward Queen Charlotte Strait, the A42s decided to return to Johnstone Strait by 1:47pm. The A42s have been so interesting these days by really working the area as the “A” clan hosts for this area. A66 seemed to take this role very seriously as he stayed behind without the ret of his family to lead the others westward. Satisfied they were all eventually on their way, the A42s got back to the business of holding “the fort” in Johnstone Strait. We were not entirely aware of their progress east in Johnstone Strait until they vocalized and showed up on the Robson Bight camera at 4:30pm. They went deep into the Bight slowly following the shore line all the way around. Their back-lit blows beautifully contrasted with the dark still waters of this wonderfully wide bay. They took their time, vacillated off of the eastern headland of Critical Point but eventually found their way to the Main Rubbing beach. The Lab was relaxing enjoying a rare “Happy Hour” together watching the A42s go back and forth off shore. They really could not decide but finally there was some interest shown by a couple of individuals, Cameleon (A88) for one, for a rub. A66 was not interested and he was seen moving east mid strait. With the rising moon and dark settling in, the A42s returned to the Bight, just as they were 24 hours before.

OrcaLab
04 Sep 2019 22:56:53 PDT



Summary for September 3 2019 Our tales begin just after midnight when A5, and a short while later A30, calls announced that the whales were back after an absence of a day. There was just a hint of I15 calls as well. At 12:23am the recording was started and not long after the orcas made their way into Blackney Pass from Blackfish Sound. It was sizeable group and they were in a rush. At 12:38am they were already off Parson Island and by 1am they were gone. No further blows or calls were heard. They simply put on their cloaking devices and vanished. We suspect the the A42s actually went towards the west on reaching Johnstone Strait and circled out to Blackfish Sound. We have no idea what happened to the A30s or the I15 group (if that was even real). A long while passed before the next tale unfolded. Just before 6am we heard quite excited A5 and G clan calls in Blackfish Sound. We strained to identify the various G clan calls. Biased from the reports of the other day, I31, G12, I15 and even G1 calls seemed plausible. But then when the orcas dropped into Blackney at 6:49am, and despite the once again foggy conditions, the number of orcas passing did not match the expectation of all those groups, that is unless there were just smaller matrilines present, or we just could not see everyone because of the conditions. It didn’t help that the whales were spread out somewhat and so family profiles were not even possible. Enough excuses! It was exciting to hear the mix of calls. Ironically, the clearest images were of A66 and his A42 family as they passed. The orcas made their way south in stages and a very exercised group of dolphins, at one moment, headed in the opposite direction close to the Lab. By 7:18am the scene had shifted to the entrance of Blackney Pass and on towards Cracroft Point. The pace never let up. The various groups headed quickly east past Cracroft Point. “CP” was struggling as well to see through the low cloud conditions. We could hear A5 calls at Cracroft Point at 0815am, and some orca were spotted heading east at 0815. We started to hear I15 and other G clan calls in Robson Bight at 8:32am, and as the fog got thinner, we could see groups of whales foraging, milling and then heading toward the rubbing beaches to the east of Critical Point. Some echolocation then could be heard at the Main Rubbing Beach followed by whales having a quick rub at 9:13am and seen underwater at 0919. At this time there were still whales orcas spread from the Bight to east of the Main Rubbing Beach. The exciting mix of calls continued. As most of the groups continued eastward from the Reserve, the last group, the A42s moved from the Bight eastward to the Main Rubbing Beach where A66 was clearly visible at 11:11am offshore rolling about and very relaxed. He turned to the west. At 11:46 his family rounded the corner at the eastern headland of the Bight. They went deep into the Bight and followed the shoreline to the west. They were fairly distant when the camera lost track of them at 12:25pm. Meanwhile, the other groups were continuing eastward. By 12:25pm the lead group (s) were off the Adam River and others were between Naka and Adam Rivers. Any day would not be complete without Bigg’s orcas showing up. Our third tale of the day. Two Bigg’s orcas were seen travelling west favouring the Cracroft shore from the Sophia Islands at 12:49pm. As they came closer to Cracroft Point it became evident that this was T010 and her son, T010C. They continued their journey west toward Weynton Pass and the Stephenson Islands by 1:36pm. Our fourth tale involves the A42s again. At 4:11pm, they crossed over toward “CP” from the Kaikash Creek area. They had been taking their time coming west and they had been undisturbed for several hours, quite a feat these days. By 4:28pm they had reached the rip off the entrance to Blackney Pass where they foraged until 5:40pm when they shifted back towards the east and eventually the Reserve. So that pretty much ends our tales for the day except for the river otters, Humpback whales, herons, seals, dolphins, porpoises, seagulls, seals, slugs and sea lions who filled the gaps in between. A wonderfully rich day even with its unanswered mysteries.

OrcaLab
03 Sep 2019 21:49:06 PDT



Summary for September 2, 2019. This is easy. . . There were no orcas today (although Karien suspected blows going south around 4:30am). Basically, yesterday's western movement stayed pretty much intact as far as we understand. There was one exception. the A42s were found off the Gordon Group (near Port Hardy) tight to shore and easting. Most of the day was once again enveloped in fog but the afternoon broke into beautiful sunshine. Seven year old Indi informed us that she saw Humpback Whales across the water an observation that would have been impossible earlier with the fog. These whales apparently shifted closer to our side and then moved away to the north. She was indeed lucky that the fog had totally cleared after her arrival late afternoon. That was pretty much it! We said good-bye to Jonathan, Madison and Clay today.

OrcaLab
02 Sep 2019 21:24:44 PDT



Summary for September 1 2019: A30,A25,A42,I4, I27,I16,I65, A34 (Queen Charlotte Strait),G27 (Queen Charlotte Strait), I35s (Queen Charlotte Strait) In and out pretty much describes the orcas today. After we left off from the last summary we heard a few more A30 calls in Blackfish Sound and then nothing until just after midnight when blows were heard heading back toward Johnstone Strait. There were enough blows to imagine that all the groups, the A30s, the A5s and the I15s, were possibly still together. But without those blows we would not have had a clue. The whales were in silent mode and nothing was heard from them until just after 7am when they turned up off the Bight. A lone humpback broke the “silence: at 2:47am with a few all too brief calls. In the morning the orcas passed by the Bight and headed west. By 8:10am calls were heard on the CP system indicating that they were making steady progress. They were up to the Sophia Island, east of the CP camp, by 8:40am and in front of the camp by 9:21am. The area was shrouded in thick fog, the thickest and most pervasive yet. Megan remarked if they had only been 10 meters closer! . . . sigh. She and Shari did manage to see Bend (A72) before she slipped into Blackney Pass. Unlike their midnight pass the groups were quite vocal while in Blackney, first in the entrance, and later in the Pass proper. It was helpful to be able to pick out the various groups and be assured who was in front of us. Karien, because of the thick fog, only managed a glimpse of one male not far from Burnt Point. After this we relied on reports from the whale watch boats. Larry Roy mentioned whales at Bold head by 10:48am and Bill Mackay described groups off the “Blow-Hole” headed across to Egeria Shoals (not far from Bold Head). Bill was delighted by the young ones from the A42s but surprised when he absolutely lost the whales in the fog a short time later. After a while the trail was established but by this time the orcas were in Queen Charlotte Strait where they continued westward. Around 1pm there was news that the A34s had finally shown up! They were with the G27s and possibly G62s as well off Port Hardy. Their direction changed however and by 1:04pm they too were westbound just like the others further east. According to Bill Mackay only the A50s apparently went if for a rub at Bere Point. Eventually all the groups apparently merged together along with the I35s who appeared in the very late afternoon. In fog until late afternoon the Lab busied itself with other routines including a long yoga session on the deck. Long overdue work was done on the batteries and power systems by Clay Fischer and Jonathan Barnet and his daughter Madison helped Paul with the water supply. Guardian, Meniscus and Slits kept the CP camp company while Megan worked on her amazing videos. Everyone productive despite the absence of orcas! “And so to bed” as Samuel Johnson would say . . .

OrcaLab
01 Sep 2019 21:28:56 PDT



Summary for August 31 2019 A50, A54, A25, A42, I4, I16, I65, I27 Some days the pieces to the puzzle just seem to come together effortlessly. This day was like that. By chance between 2 and 2:30am, with a high tide task to do (don’t ask), we heard blows in the Pass on the far shore. They seemed to be southbound. Indeed, an hour later we heard calls in Johnstone Strait as the A50s, A54s A42s ,I4s and A25s headed east toward the Bight. Up until then there had not been any calls, no clues about the whereabouts of the A30s, A5s and I4s who had passed through Blackney to the north earlier the previous evening. From 3 to 3:26am the calls were clear and steady but unfortunately a large cruise ship with the world’s worst propulsion system and a tug, coming from the opposite direction, flooded the Strait with disturbing levels of boat noise and the calls were lost to us for a time. They eventually picked up again and by 4:54am the whales were approaching the Main rubbing beach east of Robson Bight. The calls became loud and clear by 5:12am and remained so until 5:30am. The whales were still in range from 6am to 7am but were then quite distant and infrequent. There must have been a split in the groups with the A54s and A25s continuing east while the A42s, A50s and I4s headed west. They arrived back in the Bight by 9:53am. The A42s, A79 in particular, were both visible on the camera and heard on the hydrophone. Eventually these groups pushed on toward Cracroft Point and the entrance of Blackney Pass by favouring the Vancouver Island side. They had an agenda! They seemed to be content to go no further than the entrance of Blackney Pass. For quite a while they foraged and milled, pacing back and forth, calling continuously. The reason soon became obvious. There was a report at 11:30am of another group in Blackfish Sound heading east favouring the Hanson shore off Double Bay. Soon after, a different report suggested that the A25s and others (we assumed their favoured companions, the A54s) were heading west fast from the area adjacent to the Adam River in the more eastern portion of the Strait. Forty-five minutes later, the rest of the I15 pod matrilines, the I16s, I27s and I65s, rushed through Blackney Pass headed to Johnstone Strait. This was the first time this season that the I16s had come back. Whales being who they are accommodated the new comers by making room. They shifted west while the newly arriving I15s hurried eastward. These I15s didn’t go too far. By 1:30pm the A25s and A54s passed by the Cliff site opposite the Bight. Now it was the I15s turn to make room for them. They turned back toward CP and mixed in with the I4s and A50s who had by now returned to the CP/Blackney Pass entrance. The A42s decided to continue independently westward toward Telegraph Cove and eventually Beaver Cove by 3:15pm. The scene in front of CP was one of dorsal fins going every which way, back and forth, grouping, regrouping, spy hopping and tail slapping. A lone Humpback worked the Blackney Pass rip while the confusion of orcas continued. Around 4:30pm the groups eventually shifted more determinedly to the west. There had been continuous calls throughout the afternoon. When the whales went through Weynton Pass we could no longer hear their calls. But at 6:20pm they emerged on the Blackfish Sound side and as they crossed toward Bold Head from the Plumper Islands their calls were audible once again. However, the calls remained distant to about 7:30pm as the whales took the rest of the ebb current out to Queen Charlotte Strait. The busy day seemed to be drawing to an end. The fog closed in once again as did the evening light signalling the end of this rather interesting day. Today we said good-bye to Emily. We will miss her cheery disposition and very keen ear for whale sounds. We hope Emily travels and upcoming school year go well. Take good care!

OrcaLab
31 Aug 2019 21:48:37 PDT



Daily Summary for August 30, 2019: A42s, A30s, I4s, and A25s!! It was a long and exciting night indeed! After 9:00pm, the orcas didn’t vocalize for some time until they decided to come in for a rub at the Main Rubbing beach at 10:30pm. They spent the night there vocalizing on and off , obviously having a fun time! They finally decided to exit the beaches to the west at 6:00am. Strong echolocation signalled their arrival at 7:00am in the Bight. However, there were no calls. At 8:54am, Jared relayed a report of orca at Bold Head that were heading in the direction of the Fosters Island. Meanwhile, the Resident orcas were making their way further west into the Strait. The CP camp was confounded by fog and also could not hear blows. By the time they were vocal at 10:07am they were off Bauza westing along Vancouver Island shore. This sighting at Bauza confirmed that it was the I4s, A25s, A42s and A30s. Later on it was pretty quiet, call wise. Finally, at 11:38am we got a report from Shari at Cracroft Point that the Residents were going east outside of Telegraph Cove and by 12:43pm they were heading east between Blinkhorn and Kaikash, 500 meters off of Vancouver Island shore. At 1:28pm, the residents finally decided to speak up and we heard some distant A5 and A1 calls on Cracroft Point! Soon afterwards orcas were spotted off the CP platform traveling east. They vocalized excitedly for a bit and foraged around the entrance to Blackney Pass before moving back in front of the CP platform at 2:02pm. It was then that Megan and Shari were able to ID I76, A66 and Bend (A72), confirming that the A42s and I4s were there with the A50s. They were in front of the CP platform for a while where they foraged and vocalized excitedly (we’re guessing from all the fish they were snacking on)! The groups started to head east back into the Johnstone Strait at 2:59pm and were off Izumi still heading east at 3:22pm. At 3:44pm, they started to vocalize excitedlyin the Bight and they were very chatty for a while foraging and playing. The calls continued and they even echolocated super close to the hydrophone! The orcas slowly continued east and we lost them on the Robson Bight camera at 4:59pm. At 5:29pm, the orcas had entered the Rubbing Beaches and had started to echolocate. They came pretty close to the shore and had a quick rub before heading back west towards the Bight. Not even 20 minutes later, a group was back in the Bight foraging and vocalizing close to the hydrophone. We got some awesome footage on the Robson Bight camera as the group slowly traveled west favouring the Vancouver Island side. We lost track of the orca on the camera at 6:29pm, however vocalizations continued until 7:24pm. Almost an hour later after losing them on the Robson Bight camera, the group of residents showed up at Cracroft Point vocalizing and still heading west towards Blackney Pass. After a long day of traveling, the residents decided to enter into Blackney Pass and by 7:32pm some were already passing the Parson Island light. We believe all the groups, the I4s, A50s, A42s, A25s and the A54s, traveled north through the Pass at a rapid pace. A66 was alone mid channel and he cut in close to Hanson before leaving our view. There were lots of calls in front of the lab during their journey across the Pass - how exciting! The orcas cleared into Blackfish Sound by 7:58pm, where they continued to excitedly vocalize until 8:50pm. After a break for more than an hour calls started up again in Blackfish Sound at 10:01pm and boy was there a party! There were funky and excited calls all over the place - a perfect end to a perfect day!

OrcaLab
31 Aug 2019 08:29:50 PDT



Daily Summary for August 29, 2019: A42s, A30s, I4s, A25s and Bigg’s! Since the last report, it was fairly uneventful until the daylight brought with it A5 calls and lots of beautiful fog! The distant A5 calls on Cracroft Point at 7:17am continued on and off for about 25 minutes, before going quiet. At 7:47am, the “Silver Bear” reported that there were orca in Weynton Pass heading south towards Telegraph Cove in the fog. Again at 8:02am, the A5s were heard on the CP station and their calls continued until 8:33am. The foggy conditions were challenging but at 9:00am, four orcas were seen heading east past Kaikash Creek favouring the Vancouver Island side, and at 9:36am, the A5 vocalizations on Cracroft Point returned. The calls only lasted until 9:59am. At 10:49am, the “Naiad Explorer” reported that the A25s, I4s and A30s were off Stubbs Island heading through Weynton. This led us to believe that the A5s we were hearing in the Strait were the A42s and that they were well ahead of the others. Indeed, they were off the Main Rubbing beach by 11:10am. They turned back soon after and at 11:24am they were in the Bight. They were foraging, and among them was the tall adult male fin of Surf (A66). At 11:45am, Holly (A42), with her two babies, was seen porpoising and spy-hopping - what a nice surprise! At 11:54am, there were lots of calls and echolocation as they continued to forage. At 12:02pm, the whale watch boat the “Prince of Whales” found a group of Bigg’s orcas off White Beach Pass traveling south through Blackney Pass. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick in front of the lab that we couldn’t see them, but we were able to hear at least 6 blows at 12:09pm. The Bigg’s orcas continued into Johnstone Strait. They were off Cracroft Point at 12:22pm. Megan and Shari were able to film them as they passed to the east and later, looking at their pictures and film were able to confirm the IDs suggested earlier by the “Naiad Explorer” as the T036s and individuals T049C, T065A2, and T07B3. Interestingly enough, The “Naiad” had encountered T065A2 the day before by himself. At 2:20pm, the A42s were traveling west with A66 traveling mid strait on the Vancouver Island side. They were very playful and vocalized every once in a while. Meanwhile, the groups from the west were also closer to Cracroft Point and the A42s were mid strait abeam the Kaikash area heading west. It was a meeting waiting to happen. The Bigg’s orcas were moving offshore towards mid strait by 12:49 pm east of the Sophia’s. In the meantime, Surge (A61), was foraging east of the CP camp platform. The A42s, shifted around a bit stalling before joining the others in the entrance to Blackney Pass later. For the others, there was a lot of milling, vocalizing and foraging over the next while in the area off Cracroft Point and the entrance to Blackney Pass. At 1:14pm, we got our first I15 calls of the day on CP helping us to confirm that the I4s were there with the others. A big group passed in front of the CP platform at 1:23pm and I76 and A72 (Bend) with her baby were easily identified. At 1:48pm CP noticed that the A42s had turned around again and were traveling west, mid-strait towards Blackney Pass. At 2:59pm, Megan commented that the orcas were beginning to head west, mid-strait towards Big Bay. We didn’t have any more vocalizations until 3:19pm when distant calls were heard on CP. At 4:38pm, “Ocean Magic II” reported that the residents were westing at Blinkhorn on the Vancouver Island shore. The distant calls continued until 5:10pm with the whales now fairly far to the west. At 7:44pm, CP saw a different group of Bigg’s (unidentified) traveling west opposite the CP platform and at 7:50pm, they lost sight of the Bigg’s who had actually slipped into Blackney Pass and headed north where the “Prince of Whales”, out quite late in the day, reported seeing them off Flower Island in Blackfish Sound at 8:05pm. While this was all going on the A5s, A30s and I15s had turned and were progressing east in the Strait towards the Bight. They were back off the entrance to Blackney Pass, most likely closer to Vancouver island at 7:47pm. Not long after they were kicking it up in the Bight! The vocals were amazing and crazy at the same time! Looks like we’re in for a long and exciting night here at OrcaLab!

Orcalab
29 Aug 2019 23:56:32 PDT



Daily Summary for August 28, 2019: Orcas in the Bight and rubbing in the Reserve! It was another beautiful day at OrcaLab! After hearing A30s in the Johnstone Strait at 9:00pm last night, they became very chatty and moved farther into the Bight. While the vocals continued in the Bight, we heard some A5 calls in Blackfish Sound at 9:34pm. Shortly before 10pm, we heard possible G-clan calls in Blackfish Sound before the calls stopped entirely in that area at 9:57pm. Meanwhile, the calls in the Bight were becoming more clear and frequent despite there being lots of boat noise. At 10:03pm we also could hear G-clan calls in the Bight, which was interesting - they mixed up with the A25 calls really nicely! About half an hour later we heard echolocation in the Bight and presumed the orcas were going to head east into the Reserve. Indeed, calls were getting more distant in the Bight and we started to hear them in the Reserve at 10:53pm. We continued to hear calls until about 3:00am. At 4:00am, we began to hear A30 and A5 calls back in the Bight. The calls were echoey and slightly haunting. They continued to vocalize in the Bight until 5:26am when there was a short burst of echolocation before it went silent. At 7:00am, we got a report from Megan and Shari that there were calls at Cracroft Point and that a group of 7+ orcas, one of them being a male, were heading towards Blackney Pass. Unfortunately, the conditions were very foggy and we couldn’t see anything more than a few meters from the lab, but we were able to hear blows outside at 7:24am moving north through the Pass. There were no calls until 7:47am when suddenly there were loud calls on Local Left and in Blackfish Sound! We heard the A25s, A30s, and possibly the I4s. We think it was a meeting of the groups just on the cusp of Blackfish Sound and Blackney Pass. Not too long after those groups passed through, we heard blows at Hump of Compton, leading us to believe that the A42s were trailing behind, possibly traveling with a G-clan and were going to meet up with the A30s, A25s and possibly the I4s in Blackfish Sound. We continued to have distant calls in Blackfish Sound until 9:30am. Then, at 9:44am, we got a report from the Ocean Magic that there were orca heading west at Donegal Head and another report that there were orca at Egeria Shoal. We didn’t hear anything again until 10:09am, when we heard A5 calls in Blackfish Sound. At 10:27am, we got a report from Shari that the orca were spread out between Egeria Shoal and the Plumpers and were heading down Blackfish Sound. We then heard A1 along with A5 calls in Blackfish Sound at 10:28am and later I15 calls at 10:48am. The orcas in Blackfish Sound were very excited about something and chatted continuously. Finally, the orcas made their way down through Blackfish Sound and emerged in the north entrance of Blackney Pass at 11:27am. The visibility was still pretty bad, but we were able to identify the A25s, A30s and I15s through their vocals on Local Left! They traveled quickly south through the Pass and had cleared by 11:49am. After that, the calls continued on Cracroft Point. At 1:00pm, we heard very faint and brief calls in the Bight, while there were still vocals in CP. Later, at 1:22pm, we were able to locate a group on the CP camera heading west while favouring the Vancouver Island side. At 1:30pm, we got a report from Bill that the orcas were approaching Turn Point and at 2:29pm, we got another report from Bill that there were Bigg’s at Beaver Cove. At 2:31pm, we got a report from Megan that the residents were between Bauza and Beaver Cove. The calls continued on CP until 2:44pm, when we started to hear some distant calls in the Bight as well! We continued to hear faint A5 calls on CP and faint A30 calls in the Bight for a while until we got some distant I4 calls at 3:56pm! The distant calls continued on CP and in the Bight until 4:37pm when it went silent. At 4:40pm, we got a report from the Ambient Light that a group was traveling east along the Vancouver Island shore. At 4:43pm we got a report from Megan that there were 15+ blows in two groups on the Vancouver Island side heading east away from little Kaikash. At 4:44pm, we got another report from Megan that the lead group had 3 blows and the 2nd group had at least 12 blows if not more. At 4:46pm, we were able to locate them on the CP camera, even though they were still quite distant. We continued to follow them on the CP camera, but there were no vocalizations until 5:18pm, when we heard very, very faint calls in the background. We eventually lost them on the CP camera due to the distance. We finally got calls again in the Bight at 5:54pm! At 6:25pm, we found the orca foraging on the Robson Bight camera. About twenty minutes later, we saw them on the Rubbing Beach camera. They began to vocalize and we also heard some echolocation. We were so happy to see the orcas on the camera foraging and playing and best of all…rubbing on our underwater camera!!! Since the group was so close to shore, we also got some amazing vocals! After the rubbing action, the group split into two and one turned west back into the Bight and the other headed east, although they may have turned around and headed west, too. At 7:34pm, we had echoing calls in the Bight, which were coming closer every second! We could seem them clearly on the Robson Bight camera where it looked like they were foraging. The group in the Bight was spread out and stayed in the area for about 15 minutes before continuing on west. We continued to hear calls in the Bight until 8:19pm. At 8:20pm, we got a report from the Prince of Whales that the orca were slowly heading west at the Boundary and were in a fairly spread out group with I76 and I4 possibly in the lead. At 8:23pm, we spotted the orca at Izumi Rock together with the Prince of Whales zodiac on the CP camera. We finally started hearing distant calls on the CP hydrophone at 8:33pm. The calls continued on and off until 9:02pm. What a day, that’s all folks!

Orcalab
28 Aug 2019 23:01:56 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Just before 1am there were calls heard in Robson Bight as the whales headed east. The calls lasted until 1:12am and then it was quiet. We are not sure if the Main rubbing beach system was having issues but the morning sunrise was beautiful with no immediate sign of orcas in Johnstone Strait until the Naiad Explorer reported a group entering, from the east, into Robson Bight and travelling west along the Vancouver Island shore. Shortly afterward A30 calls were heard on the Main rubbing beach system, issues seemingly resolved. The whales sounded excited. As the whales hurried westward a mum and a baby were seen rubbing on the underwater camera. As the westward movement continued toward the Kaikash and Cracroft Point area there were at least 3 humpbacks in Blackney Pass. There has been increased humpback activity lately in Blackney Pass, as well as, off Cracroft Point. All the orcas generally remained closer to the Vancouver Island shore, however, at 1:39pm, the A50s foraged off of Cracroft Point. By 4:39pm, the whale watch boats were reporting that the whales were headed toward Blinkhorn and Telegraph Cove. The afternoon glare is always a challenge when looking west from Cracroft Point but just after 5pm we could make out distant blows in the direction of Blinkhorn. Then at 5:19pm Megan found another group heading west off Little Kaikash. IDs were difficult given the distance and conditions. After a short break Megan and Shari again reported that there was a group, now headed east, off Little Kaikash Beach (west of CP) and by 8:06pm there was a group mid strait off of the Blackney Pass area. We located these orcas on the Parson Island camera heading north into Blackney Pass and then identified them at 8:37pm as the A42s as they came into view of the Sea Lion camera. The A42s continued north through Blackney Pass. A66 became engaged with a humpback just off the Parson Island Light. Both rolled over and around each other. A little while later a juvenile (possibly A88) also swam beside the still rolling humpback. Ahead, the others, A42 and A79 in a tighter group with their young ones foraged as they carried on toward Blackfish Sound. There were only a few calls. Just before 9pm we began to hear the A30s who were still in Johnstone Strait - a good clue that there was about to be a lot of movement in the next few hours.

Orcalab
27 Aug 2019 22:26:56 PDT



The day started out early at 6:29am when we started hearing A42 calls on Critical Point. The calls quickly became more distant, echoey and less frequent. At 6:47am, we were able to catch a short glimpse of orcas on the Robson Bight camera heading east. They kept calling on and off again until 6:56am and then went quiet until they started up again on Cracroft Point at 8:00am. Just before that, at 7:30am, we received a report that the orcas had been seen at Sophia Islands heading west, mid-strait. At 8:00am, we got another report the orcas were approaching Cracroft Point/Hanson Island. We finally located the orcas on the Cracroft Point camera at 8:07am and were able to ID A61 and Bend (A72). The whales were spread out and to the right of Kaikash. We lost sight of them at 8:22am, however at 8:25am, we got a report from the CP camp that they had seen I76 and that he was travelling mid-strait with a group close to the Vancouver Island side in between Kaikash, little Kaikash and the entrance of Blackney Pass. Not too long afterwards, at 8:59am, we got a report from Megan and Shari at CP that the orcas were heading west and that there were two humpbacks milling around their deck - how special! At 9:05am, we got a report from the Sail Cone that orcas were heading west along the top end of Hanson Island. We continued to hear on and off calls on Cracroft Point and echoing calls in the bight until 9:31am. It was quiet for a few hours, but it picked up again at 12:50pm when we got a report from Shari that a group was abeam Big Bay, mid-strait. Shortly after, at 1:09pm, we started hearing distant A5 and A30 calls on Cracroft Point! At 1:24pm, we got another report from Shari saying that there was one male at Kaikash and another group that was east of Kaikash, favouring the Vancouver Island side. This group had six smaller fins and one male. At 2:08pm, we got a report from the Prince of Whales that one group had headed into the Bight and another group had been stalled at Izumi and it looked like they were angled towards Blackney. At this point, the calls had stopped on Cracroft Point, but we were hoping to pick them up in the Bight soon. Our wishes came true when at 2:37pm, we started hearing distant A5 calls in the Bight! At 2:53pm, we spotted a spread out group on camera foraging in the Bight and were able to get some incredible footage of two babies playing about! The calls became less frequent and eventually faded out, but we continued to follow the orcas on the Robson Bight camera and at 3:43pm, could see them heading west back into the Johnstone Strait. At 4:05pm, we got a report from Shari at CP that there were orcas at the Sophia’s heading west, on the Cracroft Island side. Soon, we were able to spot three groups on the Cracroft camera, spread out from the Sophia’s to east Blackney Pass. Slowly, the first group made their way into Blackney Pass at 5:05pm. The A25s were in the lead with the I4s followed by a second group, the A50s and finally a third group, the A42s. We were able to Identify individuals A61, I76, A66, Bend (A72) AND Holly (A42)! All three groups traveled swiftly north, with the A42s coming within close proximity of the lab again, lucky us! They were quite quiet during their journey through the Pass, but as soon as they exited into Blackfish Sound at 5:39pm they were chatting up a storm! They continued to be vocal in Blackfish Sound until 6:43pm at which point we had…drum roll please…a humpback breaching in front of the lab!! Multiple times!! It was a pretty magnificent end to our day, to say the least. Although that wasn’t the real end of our day! At 8:38pm, we started hearing distant A5, A30 and I4 calls in Blackfish Sound. They were pretty excited about something, as they were very chatty! They are continuing to vocalize in Blackfish Sound and we are hoping that they’ll pay us one of their nightly visits in front of the lab! Today we had to say goodbye to one our dear assistants, TJ who has been with us since the beginning of June. We wish her well and hope that she has safe travels ahead of her!

Emily
26 Aug 2019 22:05:54 PDT



Summary of August 25th: A30s, A50s, A54s, A25s, A42s, I4s all coming through Blackney Passage! Some time before first light the orcas made it back to Johnstone Strait. Just before 6 am we heard distant calls on the Critical Point hydrophone on and off until we could see the orcas on the Critical Point camera in the morning light at 7.11 am. There were two groups - one headed further east from Robson Bight, the other group headed a little west. Just a quarter of an hour later a group of orcas had been seen foraging at the Boundary on our camera and heard with echolocation on our hydrophone. They were guided by some dolphins. Around the same time we also got a report from Jim Borrowman in Telegraph Cove saying that some orcas were entering Johnstone Strait through Weynton Passage. At 7.45 am we could hear resting calls from the A30s, probably the group from Weynton Passage, on the Cracroft Point hydrophone. Meanwhile the groups at Critical Point decided to go further east as we could hear them at around 8 am on the Rubbing Beach hydrophone and see them on camera in the Robson Bight Reserve, as well. At 9 am we could hear the A30s still on the Cracroft Point and also on the Parson Island hydrophone. About 3 hours later the orcas decided to finally come into Blackney Passage and in our sight at 12.30 pm. They were split into three groups, led by some of the A30s far side of the lab. The second group turned out to be some of the A30s, I4s and A25s. They all headed north at a steady pace. Just a few minutes later the third group, all of the A42s, entered Blackney Passage close to Gab’s Rock and along the Hanson Island shoreline. We could see them incredibly close to the lab deck and took some really nice ID photos of the family. When passing the lab the groups gave us a few calls on Local Left. After the three groups cleared into Blackfish Sound we could hear A30 and A5 calls on the Flower Island hydrophone. Just when we all turned our backs on the scopes the A42s suddenly decided to come back again for some last foraging in front of the lab mid channel before finally following the A30s, I4s and A25s into Blackfish Sound. Shortly before 15 pm we got a report that the whales in Blackfish Sound split up into two groups - one heading towards Pearce Islands and the other towards Weynton Passage. Half an hour later we got a report from the Ocean Magic saying that the orcas spread out around Stephensons and the bottom end of Weynton Passage, heading for Blinkhorn. We could hear their calls on the Critical Point and Cracroft Point hydrophone. At 4 pm some Orcas were reported to be seen at Big Bay, tight to the Vancouver Island shoreline. At 4.29 pm Megan and Shariana, who are staying at our outcamp at Cracroft Island, reported orcas heading into Blackney Passage mid strait. We spotted them shortly afterwards at 4:48pm on the Parson Island camera. The first group of them entered Blackney Passage at 4.53 pm: it was the A25s, A50s, A54s and I4s. They were traveling quite fast towards north and spread out into one large group covering Blackney Passage far side and mid channel. We got lucky to see lots of breaches, porpoising and tail slapping, especially from the juveniles and could record some nice vocalization on the lab hydrophone Local Left. The group had cleared Blackney Passage into Blackfish Sound by 5.11 pm and we began hearing calls in Blackfish Sound by 5.14 pm. During this time, we were wondering where the A42s went when suddenly they showed up at the south end of Blackney Passage! We were in for another treat watching them from the lab deck while they were quickly traveling north at mid channel, probably trying to catch up with their friends in Blackfish Sound. They were travelling close together and taking deep dives as they went through Blackney Passage. We couldn't hear calls until they had cleared into Blackfish Sound at 5.32 pm. The last call we heard on the Flower Island hydrophone was at 18.10 pm. At 19.33 pm Jared Towers reported to us that all northern residents that have been around today were off Blinkhorn after coming through Plumper Islands. We might have caught a glimpse of a call on the Critical Point hydrophone at around 19.40 pm but couldn’t hear more vocalization after that. Looks like the whales gave us a short break for dinner until we could start hearing them again on Critical Point at 21.30 pm. Here is hoping for an exciting night to come!

Orcalab
25 Aug 2019 22:55:27 PDT



No orcas present.

Summary of August 24th: We had a busy night here at OrcaLab last night, followed by a relatively quiet day in Blackney Pass. From 11:00 pm to 11:30 pm last night we heard calls and rubbing sounds on our Rubbing Beach hydrophone. As the orca traveled west, we were able to hear their chit-chat on our Robson Bight hydrophone until around 12:22 am. The calls became a bit masked by boat noise, but continued faintly. At 12:30 am, calls registered on both our Cracroft Point and Parson Island hydrophones, and the orca seemed to be headed into the Pass! As we listened for their blows outside the lab, there appeared to be two groups headed north fast through Blackney. The orca entered the pass at around 12:40 am and cleared quickly - exiting by 01:07 am! They vocalized the whole way, continuing their calls until they made it to our Flower Island hydrophone. Calls persisted until 02:00 am on the dot and the rest of the night was still. At 10:53 am, there was a group of Bigg’s that snuck up on us in Blackney pass. We are fairly certain that this group of three small fins and one male was the T060’s! They traveled north determinedly, and cleared the pass by 11:07 am. To spice things up, we began hearing I15, A30 and A5 calls on our Flower Island hydrophone at 11:33 pm. We had a report from Megan at 12:05 pm that there were orca spread from Hanson Island to Swanson Island at Double Bay heading east, with another group between Lizard Point and Donegal Head. It appeared that the A50s an I4s were in the lead, followed by the A54s and A25s with the A42s trailing. The Bigg’s were seen heading West at Stubb Island. We continued hearing resident calls off of Flower Island until 1:30 pm, and at 1:35 pm, we had another report from Megan that the orca had formed a resting line in Blackfish Sound and were heading towards Queen Charlotte Strait. At 4:15 pm, at least three Humpbacks began breaching, pec slapping and tail slapping in front of the lab - it was a beautiful sight! The rest of our afternoon and evening has been quiet so far. However, we just received a report from Kate that orca passed by Bere Point at 7:00 pm and, after a bit of back and fourth, are heading west towards Blackney Pass! We hope for another eventful night here at OrcaLab!

Orcalab
24 Aug 2019 22:26:34 PDT



Summary for August 23 2019: A50s, A54s, A25s, A42s, I4s and humpbacks! Wow! What a busy day we had at OrcaLab! Not too long after we started hearing distant A30 and I15 calls in the Johnstone Strait at 10pm last night, we heard some distant A5 calls on Cracroft Point at 10:38pm. By 11:24pm, we had I15, A5 and A30 calls on Parson Island and immediately knew that some orcas might be headed north into Blackney! We first heard them in the pass at 11:30pm, counting at least six blows. They were split into two groups, both mid-channel, and traveled slowly through the Pass. There were no vocals and both travel groups had exited into Blackfish Sound by 11:47pm. We didn’t hear any vocals in Blackfish Sound, either, however at 11:51pm, we heard distant A30 calls in the Johnston Strait! We believe this group continued eastward, perhaps on the Cracroft Island side. At 12:47am, we heard very distant calls in the Johnstone Strait again, but this time it was the A5s. They continued to vocalize on and off for about forty minutes, until they eventually were drowned out by the heavy rain. Then, just before 2am, we heard possible echolocation on the Main Rubbing beach system. We continued to hear distant calls in the Johnstone Strait area until about 3:02am. At 5:15am, we heard A5 and A1 calls in Blackfish Sound and these continued for about 25 minutes. At 5:50am, we got a wonderful surprise when a humpback decided to sing for us!! It was beautiful as always and such a wonderful way to start the early morning. At 6:05am, we had distant calls in Blackfish Sound again and later at 6:29am, we heard calls in the Johnstone Strait. At 9:40am, we got a report from the Prince of Whales that the A42s were at Blinkhorn and traveling east! The rest of the morning was pretty quiet until 11:02am when we got a report from the Naiad that they were in Blackfish Sound with Orcas heading south, which meant…they were headed our way! The first group entered Blackney Pass mid-channel at 11:21am. We first saw A61 and then the A50s. They were shortly followed by the I4s, and finally the A54s most likely with A85 as well. They were very playful (tail slapping and breaching) and took their time traveling south through the Pass, stopping many times to mill and forage. There were no vocalizations, but we did have Inkukshuk, one of our humpbacks amongst the orca! Once they had reached Cracroft Point, they were chatting away, clearly very excited about something. We followed them with the remote camera to the entrance of Blackney Pass, after some very excited calls they turned right around and visited us again! We had A54s and the A25s enter the south end of Blackney Pass at 12:36pm and they quickly crossed the channel and were near Parson Island’s south edge by the time the I4s and A50s had entered at 12:37pm. They traveled slowly through the Pass, staying in 2 separate groups until the very end, where they came together and foraged. Around 12:50pm, A61 (who must’ve fallen behind) ended up following behind the second group. There were some vocalizations, but not many. Everyone had cleared the Pass by 12:58pm. They continued into Blackfish Sound and there were excited vocals for about 40 minutes. We then got a report from Megan at 1:47pm that there were orca 200 meters off of Telegraph Cove’s dock and faint calls on Cracroft Point. We started hearing distant calls in Blackfish Sound at 2:03pm. At 2:43pm, we got a very special surprise when the A42s came through Blackney Pass for the first time this season!!! They were traveling north and didn’t start vocalizing until they reached the northern end of the Pass at 2:48pm. They finally exited into Blackfish Sound around 2:55pm. But wait…there’s more! To top off the afternoon, at 5:47pm, just after we had completed and equipment dive off the Lab, we had the A25s, A54s,A42s, A50s and I4s enter Blackney Pass from the north heading south, mid-channel. They didn’t vocalize until they exited Blackney around 6:06pm. Afterwards, they cleared into Johnstone Strait and headed east. Whew! What a life we live!

OrcaLab
24 Aug 2019 09:16:07 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Like Emily said during our dinner, “today was full of highlights"! Starting at 2:55am we heard distant I15 and A30 calls in Blackfish Sound and soon afterwards the whales dropped into Blackney Pass. At around 3:40am, the “CP” camp let us know the orcas were headed east in Johnstone Strait along the Cracroft Island shore. That was also the time we heard the last calls on CP, echoing to the Critical Point hydrophone. About three hours later, the A30s joined by some of the A5s, went for a rub at the Main rubbing beach and then headed back west into Robson Bight where they became very chatty. They probably got some early breakfast since we could also hear a lot of echolocation. At around 10am, they decided to head further west making their way through Johnstone Strait close to the Vancouver Island shoreline to the area off the entrance to Blackney Pass (i.e. vocal on the CP hydrophone echoing into Parson Island). While the A54s and part of the A25s travelled north through Blackney Passage into Blackfish Sound, the A50s and the I4s were mid strait heading west in Johnstone Strait. The A50s and the I4s then doubled back toward the entrance to Blackney where, close to the Hanson Island shore, they followed the A54s and A25s through Blackney Passage. They surprised us by showing up just in front of the lab without any calls. They were grouped closely together. They cleared Blackney Pass very fast and joined the others in Blackfish Sound continuing west towards Donegal Head. We could hear their calls until 12:30pm and then lost track of them due to heavy boat noise and distance. As they continued west they met up with the A42s who had been travelling eastward in Queen Charlotte Strait all morning. This was the first time the A42s had been seen in the area this season!! The whales took their time sorting themselves out and by 4:30pm they had moved west to Bere Point. Then at 4:53pm, Kate Brauer reported the A42s, A25s, A50s, A54s and I4s had turned east once again from Bere Point. While the orcas spent their afternoon off Malcolm Island, humpbacks in front of the lab began trap feeding for nearly one hour, finally moving south to Cracroft Point where they foraged for another hour. That was our call to have some dinner as well. Jared Towers let us know that the orcas were southbound in Weynton Passage at 8:36 pm. At around 10pm we started hearing distant A30 and I15 call in Johnstone Strait as they headed east. We were sad to say good-bye to Momoko Kobayashi earlier in the day and wish her well on her travels back to Japan.

Orcalab
23 Aug 2019 00:38:35 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Yesterday was a busy day of Orca activity!! At around 7:58am we began hearing A30 calls in Johnstone Strait. It seems the Orca may have entered the Strait via Weynton Passage, and headed east from there. Then at 9:21am, we got a report from Farewell Harbour that a group of Bigg’s were in Blackfish Sound, and heading towards Blackney Pass. Quickly thereafter, the Bigg’s came into our view, and we were able to identify them as the T100s. At the same time there was a report of two other Bigg’s groups, one at Haddington Island (T55s) and another at Donegal Head. As T100s cleared Blackney Passage to the south, we received a report of Northern Residents in Robson Bight and were able to hear their faint vocalizations. At 12:10pm, with the help of Megan at CP, we were able to locate a group of 8 individuals on our Cracroft Point camera. This group was the A50s and I4s and they slowly meandered into Blackney Passage going north. As they entered the Pass, they were spread out, but once they approached the front of the lab they traveled in a tight group without vocalizing. As soon as we lost sight of this group on our Sea Lion Rock camera, we heard possible A54 and A25 calls on our Robson Bight hydrophone. We soon found them on the Critical Point camera and watched them for about an hour until they traveled west and we lost sight of them. To top off a wild day, we were pleasantly interrupted during our dessert by the TJ's sighting of fins in Parson bay, from inside the house! We believe that all of the A50s, I4s, A25s and A54s had united around Telegraph Cove and made their way east into the Pass. They were very quiet as they entered into Blackney, but began to vocalize as they came into range of our OrcaLab hydrophone at around 8:20pm. They were split into three groups headed north and all groups had exited the Pass by 9:02pm. They continued to vocalize in Blackfish Sound until 9:30 pm, as they continued further west. What a beautiful day at OrcaLab!

Orcalab
22 Aug 2019 05:53:40 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

It was a very exciting day! The Orcas headed to the east after being in the Bight for most of the night and at noon, we got a report that they were heading west from the Broken Islands. At around 1:40pm, we found the Orca on our Rubbing Beach camera and at 2:34pm, we began hearing distant A30 calls on the hydrophone. Not too long after, we heard I15 and A30 calls on Critical Point. We found two groups just offshore, but they were hard to keep track of due to the windy conditions and we eventually lost sight of them. We didn’t hear calls for about 40 minutes, when finally calls were heard again at Cracroft Point! We found them foraging on the CP camera and they continued this behaviour for about an hour and a half before finally making their way west into Blackney Pass. We had three groups pass in front of the lab. The lead group, consisting of the A25s and A54s entered the pass at 6:08pm and were followed shortly by a second group with some of the A50s and I4s. Unfortunately, both groups were tailed by a commercial fishing boat, who decided to approach them at a very close distance so they could take pictures with their iPhones…sigh. At 6:30pm, the third group entered the pass with A75, her baby and the rest of the A50s. All of the Orcas were in high spirits, with lots of tail slapping and breaching! There were some, but not many, calls while they were traveling through the Pass. All groups had cleared by 6:41pm and continued on into Blackfish Sound where they are now occasionally vocalizing!

Emily and Momoko
20 Aug 2019 21:17:54 PDT



Distant calls audible.

A lovely meeting of families! The A54s and the A25s finally came back from the east. They are meeting up with the A50s and the I4s who after travelling through Blackney Pass returned to Johnstone Strait via Weynton Pass and travelled east. The meeting is taking place off the western end of the Reserve just now.

OrcaLab
19 Aug 2019 19:23:46 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Quite the morning! At 9:35am while checking the Main rubbing beach hydrophone there were distant A30 calls - just a few- enough for us to figure that the whales were on their way to west. By 10:22am the calls were now on the Robson Bight system but still not close. Twenty minutes later the Cliff informed us that the A50s were close to the Cracroft side under their observation site. Another group, also going west, was just offshore. Another hour went by during which the whales came into view of CP. At 11:42am the I4s and A72 were off CP. With quite a bit of milling/ foraging the whales turned into Blackney Pass and began to travel north with the last of the ebbing tide. They were in a hurry or perhaps carried along with the ebb. They made quick progress until just before Blackfish Sound where they stopped and collectively foraged. just before 1pm they were all in Blackfish Sound. After a few excellent calls (despite the boat noise) they continued to Bold Head. This is where we lost them so we are waiting for the next chapter which might include clues as to the whereabouts of the A54s and A25s! The T19s with T18 were in Queen Charlotte Strait this morning.

OrcaLab
19 Aug 2019 14:31:19 PDT



A lot can happen in twelve hours! The whales pretty much continued calling through the early hours of the morning in Johnstone Strait. Eventually it became clear that the whales had turned sometime between 11pm and 2:20am. At this time, some of the A30s came closer to the eastern portion of the Bight. By 3am there were whales off the Main rubbing beach. They became excited as the various groups came close as well. We heard rubs a couple of times and lots of close calls from the I4s, more A30s and then the A25s. The whales echo located almost continuously. This went on until around 4:30am when the calls became more distant as the whales moved off to the east. We last heard calls till about 5am. It is a beautiful sunny day here. No fog!!! Calm seas.

OrcaLab
19 Aug 2019 09:57:27 PDT



Distant calls audible.

After passing Robson Bight very close to the eastern headland we heard calls on the rubbing beach at 6:42pm. The A30 calls became stronger, followed by echo location and the sound of rubs. One individual went very close over the under water camera. The rub was brief and the whales turned west just after and made another pass over the pebbles on their way in the opposite direction. We could see I76 offshore. He too was west bound. The whales seemed to mill off Strider, perhaps waiting for others to finish there and then resumed going west to Critical Point. By 7:29pm the whales were beginning to pass the eastern headland at Robson Bight. We watched and listened as they moved both offshore and deep into Robson Bight. The light failed us and so we have waited for their western progress to take them closer to Cracroft Point. We can now hear them on "CP" and have started another recording.other recording. www, orca-live.net

OrcaLab
18 Aug 2019 21:23:48 PDT



Orcas near mics.

So despite the boat noise (sigh) the A30s and the I15s are calling on the Robson Bight hydrophone (www.orca-live.net). They are also on camera (http://explore.org/live-cams/player/orcalab-robson-bight) as they head east in the Reserve and Robson Bight. They have dolphins all around them.

OrcaLab
18 Aug 2019 18:08:05 PDT



Distant calls audible.

It has been a very busy morning! We continued to hear calls on Critical Point until 6:25am, and at 6:33am, we heard distant calls on the rubbing beaches. We spotted a distant group in the reserve at 6:34am, and they were very generous with close calls and echolocation! Unfortunately, there was no rubbing action, they were too busy foraging off of the coast. There were quite a lot of whales and they split into two separate foraging groups at 7:24am. We believe they were the A54s and the A25s. They continued foraging and some dolphins joined them later on! One foraging groups eventually cleared to the east and the other turned around and headed west, back towards the rubbing beaches, but…still no rubbing. This group cleared to the west at 8:06am, towards Critical Point and showed up on the camera around 8:23am, exhibiting foraging behaviour. At this time, we also started hearing distant calls on the rubbing beaches again, probably that other foraging group that had cleared to the east earlier. At 8:51am, we heard distant I15 calls on Critical Point along with some A1 calls. They were pretty quiet, probably because they were far away, favouring the Vancouver Island side of the Strait and at 9:11am, we spotted a group on the Cracroft Point camera. They are there now, foraging and vocalizing!

Emily
18 Aug 2019 10:03:24 PDT



Distant calls audible.

They have been calling all night long! After travelling to the west from the reserve, the orcas turned to the east somewhere in the Strait. It sounded like they were off the entrance of Blackney Pass around 3am. We kept hearing A30 calls and occasional A5 and I15 calls. We believe that they are near Robson Bight now. Meanwhile we are enjoying the beautiful morning with two humpbacks in the Pass!

Momoko
18 Aug 2019 06:08:23 PDT



Orcas near mics.

At 9:16pm, We started hearing faint A50/I15 calls on Cracroft Point and at 10:18pm, We got a report from Megan and Shari at CP that there were at least 4 blows around the entrance to Blackney Pass and another 2, at least, to the East of the CP platform. The I15s were the first to become vocal on Parson Island at 9:51pm, followed later by the A50s at 10:01pm. We waited to hear blows outside the lab, but there was a big tug and barge traveling south through the Pass that made it nearly impossible to hear anything. The Orcas were vocal on Parson Island until about 10:10, which coincidently coincided with the tug entering that area. Right now, we believe they are in the strait heading West, but they are not vocal. We are continuing to listen, hoping to hear them in the Blackfish Sound area soon. At 10:54pm, we heard what was most likely the A54s and A25s on the Rubbing Beaches. They were incredibly close and vocal! We believe they came from the east, trailing far behind the A50s and I15s. We’re excited to see what the rest of the night has in store for us!

Emily
17 Aug 2019 23:15:34 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

After the whales (the A30s, I4s and A25s) came around to Blackfish Sound from Johnstone Strait last night around 11pm they began to head east toward Blackney Pass. Had they found new companions. There were a lot of I15 and A5 calls later through the night making us wonder if something had changed in the composition of the groups. Time will tell! After midnight (12:27am) the first whales were in the Pass. They made steady progress to the junction of Blackney Pass and Johnstone Strait. They turned the corner by 1am and passed by Cracroft Point. The next stop was Robson Bight and just before 3am they were passing the eastern headland of the Bight closely and on their way through the rest of the Reserve. Forty minutes later there were calls at the Main Rubbing Beach - had they stalled for a rub at Strider? It was quite the recording at the beaches. Lots and lots of close calls as they enjoyed the beach. Gradually there was a shift and the whales continued east. The last calls we heard were just before 6am. Since then there have been reports of orcas off the Eve River at 8:20am heading east. Then at 9:45am orcas were reported at Stimpson Reef heading west. In the meantime CP and then the Lab watched Bigg's orcas pass by, they ended up in Blackfish Sound just a short while ago.

OrcaLab
17 Aug 2019 10:27:45 PDT



Distant calls audible.

Indeed the whales have exited Johnstone Strait and turned up off Blackfish Sound.

Orcalab
16 Aug 2019 22:58:55 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Our patience was rewarded after the whales cleared Robson Bight at 3:44pm. A61 together with A72 were amongst the last to head east. Initially, they passed Strider Beach (the Cliff was watching) and some headed to the Main Beach. No really rubs happened but A86 and her little one did a pass by and were seen under water as well at 4:03pm. Afterwards there was a good deal of back and forth offshore. Eventually, four went in for a real rub at Strider while others stayed offshore with some making all the way back to Robson Bight by 4:53pm. Several including the I4s were quite loud and vocal on reaching Robson Bight. By 5:53 all the whales were finally west bound. By 7:10 their calls were beginning to be audible on the Cracroft Point system. However, the whales kept pretty much to the Vancouver Island shore making it almost to Little Kaikash before turning back eastward at 8:40pm. Just after 9pm they were still in the Johnstone Strait area adjacent to Blackney Pass. With only distant calls over the next while it was hard to judge what these indecisive whales had decided to do - certainly not come into Blackney! Now, at 10:30pm the calls have ceased. Have they gone out through Weynton Pass?

Orcalab
16 Aug 2019 22:32:49 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Well, it's been a busy day with two Orca encounters already! We started hearing Bigg’s calls on the Parson Island hydrophone at 7:09am and at 7:16am, we spotted a few on the Sea Lion Rock camera, heading north into Blackney Pass. They were foraging and we think they did a long dive, because we lost track of them and there were no vocals. To our surprise at 7:26am, we suddenly had (?)another group of 5-6 Biggs (1 male, 1 juvenile, 1 baby and 2-3 small fins) - possibly the T49As - come up in the middle of Parson Bay, this time traveling in a tight group against the tide heading south. A small coastal freighter actually turned off their engines, floated backwards, close to the whales, taking pictures! They resumed their travels after a while and the Bigg’s carried on to Johnstone Strait. This group did not vocalize either and exited the pass to the south around 8:04am. On entering Johnstone Strait the Bigg’s headed out toward midstrait. The Cliff then watched them progress to the east. At 9:39am we heard the Resident groups approach Blackfish Sound. It became apparent by the reports that they were committed to Blackfish Sound and Blackney Pass. At 12:23 the a50s,A54s,I4s and A25s were off Double Bay. We expected them to stay on the Hanson Island side as they were in a close group. The tide was in flood so we did not know exactly how quickly to expect them. About an hour later they were in our view surrounded by several boats, some of whom were travelling parallel, behind the whales, and even disappointingly close. The whales stayed in their close formation, at one point squeezed between a tug heading north and the large DFO boat the “Tanu” going south with them. The northwest wind was pretty exercised by this time and after the whales passed CP Megan had to put her camera away! The whales entered the Reserve at 3pm after rubbing at “Kaizumi” at 2:30pm. Now past Robson Bight (3;44pm) we are waiting hopefully to see them on the Main Rubbing Beach.

Orcalab
16 Aug 2019 15:59:11 PDT



No orcas present.

At 9:50pm, we started hearing A30 calls from Blackfish Sound. Some of them came down half way in to Blackney Pass but turned back north. It was very difficult to hear their blows because of the wave sound. At 10:41pm, we picked up I15 calls. At 12:13am, we started hearing A5 calls. The orcas were very excited to meet up in Blackfish Sound. The last echolocation we heard was at 1:22am from Blackfish.

Momoko and Emily
16 Aug 2019 02:17:55 PDT



Distant calls audible.

Soon after writing the last piece, the Cliff (the Wardens) informed us that the whales had definitely turned west in the Reserve around 3pm. From the rubbing beaches the A54s and A25s steadily travelled slowly west close to the Vancouver Island shore. A61 was the las. It was another two and a half hours before they were nearing Kaikash Creek. By 6pm they were between Kaikash and what is called little Kaikash just west of CP on the Vancouver Island shore. There was very little to go on after this but we believe the whales continued to Weynton Pass and by 10pm we heard them as they came out of Weynton and began to cross of Blackfish Sound. Perhaps they are in search of the A50s and the I4s who were last reported to us still in Queen Charlotte Strait around 5pm.

OrcaLab
15 Aug 2019 22:26:25 PDT



Orcas near mics.

So much to catch up on. It has been a very busy day here at the Lab, both for whales and people. After we posted last night the groups all slipped back to Blackfish Sound. Just after 10pm they had all turned. The last calls, possibly from the A54s and the A25s subsided at 11:26pm. The ebb tide still had ten minutes to run. After a short break there were a few more calls, all distant, as the whales sorted themselves out. At 5;08am we heard something, at 6:59am we definitely heard A30 and A5 calls in Johnstone Strait. Momoko had a look around and found the whales at 8:17am just east of Big Bay (west of cracroft Point) on the Hanson Island side. They were coming east slowly against the current. It would turn out to be the A54s and the A25s. They were incredibly relaxed as they passed CP spouting water, rubbing kelp, spy hopping, breaching and literally bumping each other. Their movement took them more mid strait as they continued east. A few stopped at the small rubbing beach between Kaikash and Izumi Rock (9:26am). Afterwards they circled through the Bight (10:13am). Around the headland on the eastern side of the Bight and "down" to Strider Beach and the Main Rubbing beach for a fairly quick rub. from the Main beach they turned west. Surge (A61) who had been offshore took his time. Finally, what looked like A86 and her little one, and A85 headed west more determinedly pulling A61 along with them (1pm). Surge was not quite ready to commit and returned a short while later. The others eventually (2:29pm) turned into Strider Beach for another rub. Since then, and most recently, we are hearing calls once again off the Main beach. The A50s have been found off Lizard Point in Queen Charlotte Strait.

OrcaLab
15 Aug 2019 14:47:17 PDT



Distant calls audible.

The orcas are back and call ing at the top end of Blackfish Sounds. Calls are pretty frequent but they sound a wee bit tired as if a long days journey to get here!

Orcalab
14 Aug 2019 22:35:47 PDT



Orcas near mics.

In Blackfish Sound we heard one of the A30 groups with an A5 group,then the other A30 group ahead of the I15 group. Since then the A30s have entered Blackney Pass and are now calling,we have not heard the A5s for a while but the I15 group seems to trailing.onehourto go before the current turns to flood.

Orcalab
14 Aug 2019 22:33:29 PDT



Distant calls audible.

The orcas are back and call ing at the top end of Blackfish Sounds. Calls are pretty frequent but they sound a wee bit tired as if a long days journey to get here!

Orcalab
14 Aug 2019 20:34:10 PDT



No orcas present.

It was a Bigg's day yesterday! We first got a report that a group of Orcas were in front of Alert Bay, heading east at 10:46am. At 11:09am, two groups were coming east on the south side of Pearse Island. At 12:39pm, one group was reported off of Stubbs, heading north and another group was off of Big Bay, going east. We also heard some Bigg's orca calls. The group near Stubbs was identified as the T002Cs. At 12:52pm, CP reported that a group (1 male, one sprouter, one baby and at least 2 small fins) were headed into Blackney Pass from Johnstone Strait. The group unfortunately changed their mind and turned back into the Strait where they milled around for a short while. They eventually started to slowly head east from CP. They were very close to the Cracroft Island side and Shari at CP was able to identify them as the T090s. At 2:23pm we spotted Orcas on the Robson Bight cam near the east of the Cliff and followed them until they came to the east of Boat Bay on our Rubbing Beach cam. At 2:50pm, another group (1 male with 2 small fins and a baby) was reported by CP in the entrance of Blackney Pass. This group was identified as the T060s. At 3:23pm, the Northern Residents were off of Bere Point and the T059s, T69As and T060s were seen off of Donegal Head. At 4:52pm, the T069As were at Foster and the A50s, A54s, I4s and A25s were off of Malcolm Point, heading east. At 9:44pm we started hearing the A30 calls from Blackfish Sound, but they stopped calling at 9:49pm and didn't hear anything until 5:36am, when the A30s were heard in Blackfish Sound again. The A30s were very quiet and only called for about three minutes. Most recently, there was a report of Orcas at Bere Point - hopefully they mosey on down East and give us a visit!

Emily and Momoko
14 Aug 2019 11:43:41 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

We continued to have calls throughout the night on Rubbing Beach and Critical Point. We believe they were the A5s/A30s on RB and the A30s/I15s on CRPT. At 5:38am, we heard blows outside going north with vocalizations on Local Left. We heard 6-8 blows, but because of the dense fog, we couldn't make out the exact number of fins in the pass. The group had cleared Blackney Pass by 5:58am, heading north into Blackfish Sound, where they foraged and vocalized for about 30 minutes. At 6:18am, we got a report from Megan at CP that there were 6-8 Orcas, including one male, who had just passed CP and were heading into Blackney. We heard the first blows at 6:29am, but still had zero visibility. They traveled fast through the Pass with no vocalizations. There was no visual or vocal confirmation of who this group might be. By 6:38am, the group had exited BP into Blackfish Sound. No vocalizations as of now, but we are listening!

Orcalab
13 Aug 2019 10:03:23 PDT



Boat noise

Just after midnight a group of orcas began moving through Blackney Pass from Blackfish Sound. As this group approached Cracroft Point more blows were heard and tracked through Blackney, some of whom were not far off the Hanson Island shore. Just after 1am all the blows had cleared and we began to hear calls from the first group (some of the A30s) who had passed an hour earlier. Since then, boat noise and only briefly some distant calls.

OrcaLab
13 Aug 2019 02:07:04 PDT



Distant calls audible.

It was a pretty quiet day until we started hearing distant calls on Critical Point 5:49pm and saw them on the CRPT camera at 5:58pm. Later, at 7:07pm, we heard calls again, but this time on Cracroft Point and spotted a group on the camera heading West into Blackney Pass. At 7:18pm, we had our first Orcas in the gap, believed to be the I4s and Bend (A72). They were followed by a second group with at least four whales, one of which was a sprouter, A84. The first and second group got to West Pass and then lingered for a while, probably waiting for the third group which showed up in the gap at 7:45pm. The third group was comprised of the A54s, A25s, A50, and A61. We believe that Bend (A72) turned back from the first and second group and joined the third as she was spotted with them at Parson Island's South Edge. The 3rd group was moving fast and there were lots of calls! They were also breaching and tail slapping throughout the pass. They had all exited the pass by 7:58pm, except for A61 who lingered and foraged for a while by Turtle Rock until finally moving into Blackfish Sound at 8:05pm. There are now distant calls in Blackfish Sound, where we believe the Orcas are foraging.

Orcalab
12 Aug 2019 21:49:30 PDT