December 16 2022 to January 31 2023 A23s,A25s, A42s, A94, D01s, T002Cs, T101s, T60s, Humpbacks: Stingray plus others Gray Whales Pacific White Sided Dolphins Sea Otters Sea Lions You might look at the dates above and think, Ņmy, a lot of time has gone by since the last summary!Ó and you would be of course quite right. It does not mean that it has not been busy, quite the opposite. Cam and Mat are having an exciting time at the Lab and as you will see they have been kept very busy monitoring the hydrophones and keeping track of all sorts of marine mammal visits. We begin where we left off with the arrival of the A5s (A23s and A25s) on December 16 2022. BiggÕs orcas had been vocal in the wee hours before whereas the A5 calls happened in the late evening from 10pm on. Dolphins had shown up in the afternoon - amazing how many times dolphins and BiggÕs show up around the same time. Afterwards, nothing happened for five days save a lone Humpback Whale travelling west sighted off Telegraph Cove by Jim Borrowman on December 19. On December 21 Alex looked out and saw a group of large whales travelling close together. She counted approximately 5. Turned out to be Gray Whales. Gray Whales are not common in this area but several years ago our caretakers David and Brittney saw 8 travelling in the same manner through Blackney Pass heading west around the same time of year. Jared believes these Gray Whales are headed to their winter sojourn in Baja, Mexico. These December 21 whales were spotted again later in the afternoon by Craig and Favi when they rounded Donegal Head and headed toward Lizard Point in Queen Charlotte Strait. BiggÕs orcas made another appearance in Blackney Pass on December 23. Jared Towers cautiously identified them as the T002Cs. Another 5 days went by. December 28 and again there were A5 calls in Johnstone and this time the group went in for a rub at Strider Beach starting at 4:40pm and ending nine minutes later. Our sense was that it was the A23s and A25s coming from the east. Logical because around December 26 they had been seen off Savory Island in Georgia Strait. This time they most likely did not travel far as they were heard the next day (December 29) off Cracroft Point when travelling west. Meanwhile, the area was still peppered with unusual winter sightings of Humpback Whales. Jim Borrowman noticed three that went past Telegraph Cove on December 25, a mum and baby and another larger one. On December 30, a Humpback was reported by Yvonne up in the inlets near Cramer Pass. But the A5s were not done either. Three days after the last encounter on December 31 they were back and travelling close to Vancouver Island. We listened to them from 10:52pm until 3:48am. Eventually they disappeared to the west. The New Year actually began with BiggÕs orcas making an appearance on January 3. Although active during the day we only heard them in Blackfish Sound at 9:29am and then in Johnstone Strait at 11:30am. They had given Blackney a wide berth travelling to the Strait via Weynton Pass. Yet another humpback was seen off Telegraph Cove heading west on January 7. Another (or perhaps the same?) was seen off Port McNeill the next day. On January 8 it was Alex Morton who first spotted the A23s and A25s of Donegal Head. We soon heard their calls but like the BiggÕs days before they took Weynton Pass and arrived in Johnstone Strait by 1pm. They did a decently long rub between 3:06pm and 3:53pm at Strider Beach. Their movement was eastward. Between January 11 and January 15 events toggled between BiggÕs and Northern Residents. BiggÕs orcas returned January 11 and travelled through Blackney Pass. The ever vigilant Cam and Mat took enough photos so that they could be identified by Ely Durand as the T060s. The T060os are one of the most frequent of the BiggÕs groups to inhabit this area. The next day (January 12) the A5s were back and once again interested in rubbing at Strider Beach between 3:19pm and 4:33pm. On January 13th BiggÕs were back but this time were only heard. We received a report of two groups (8 or 9 individuals in total) were sighted off Campbell River. Patrick Donnelly relayed this report. Interestingly, because winter sightings are rare, a known Humpback Whale, Kappa and her young baby, also passed Alert Bay and then Sointula. On January 14, you guessed it, Northern Residents were once again in Johnstone Strait. This time it was members of D01 pod. Having the Ds present in winter has happened before. In fact they appeared in January last year. Their visits to the Johnstone Strait area are infrequent at best. Summer visits are now rare where once before they were considered regulars. Their mission on January 14 was to connect with the A23s and A25s. After their Strider rubs at 8:03pm and 9:14pm they continued east. January 14 was also notable because of the occurrence of a Humpback Whale found to be entangled in gear off Wells Pass in Queen Charlotte Strait. Sadly this is an all too often occurrence. Freeing a whale requires expert interference. Jackie Hildering of MERS (Marine Education and Research Society) was on scene and helped to attach a satellite tag to ensure the whale would be relocated the next day when the DFO rescue team could take over. On January 15 the whale was successfully freed. As this effort was underway, the Ds travelled back west with the A23s and A25s in Johnstone Strait. They were seen by Alex around 8am in Queen Charlotte Strait and by the Humpback rescue people around 1pm further to the west closer to Numas Island. On January 15, on the very evening the whale was freed, Cam and Mat heard a very vocal Humpback in Johnstone Strait. This was another unusual event and very late in the ŅseasonÓ for singing. We all noted how different this whale sounded from the other vocal humpbacks from last season. What an amazing day! With the A23s and A25s gone it was time for the A42s on January 18 to step in and take their place. They too, still travelling with the young A4 male Mystery (A94), headed east in the morning. They were seen off Campbell River on January 20. The T101s, late in the afternoon of January 21, appeared in Blackney Pass. Once again Ely helped confirm the identifications. We heard A5s again in the afternoon of January 23. Our impression this time was that these were at least the A25s making another run through the Strait. They too had a rub between 2:22pm and 2:35pm at Kaizumi rubbing beach. Not sure how far they went but they were back heading west the next evening. Cam and Mat noticed a lone Humpback moving back and forth in Blackney Pass on January 24. They took lots of pictures of the dorsal fin. The whale did not fluke so they had a lovely time going through the MERS Humpback ID catalogue. On the very last page they found Stingray and made a perfect match. Stingray is well known to us. She is classified as a BCZ meaning that the underside of her tail is basically entirely white. Stingray was re-sited on January 30 between Sointula and Port McNeill. All this time the A42s were making their winter tour of the Sunshine Coast. On January 26 John Ford heard their calls in the evening off of Nanaimo and heard reports that they had been over on the Ņother sideÓ (of Georgia Strait) for several days before. Whew! It was time for Cam and Mat to take a break and restock their diminishing supplies. Encouraged by the continuing nice weather they made a town run. Paul and Helena were glad to see them looking well and very excited about their time at the Lab.. After baths, laundry, lunch, picking up their mail and shopping they headed home. None too soon as bad weather settled in. Over the next few days they noted the regular sightings of sea otters. Once hunted to near extinction along the coast sea otters were reintroduced and now their numbers have increased and sightings frequent. Must say, they are pretty cute! On January 28 Darryl Luscombe reported seeing a group of orcas in Cormorant Channel. These were most likely BiggÕs orcas. They went west and were later seen between Cormorant Island and Haddington Island at 10:15am. They carried on past Port Mcneill in the direction of Port Hardy. On January 29 another Humpback Whale became vocal after dark This was notable because of the heavy boat noise that did not seem to interfere with the humpbackÕs vocal efforts. We often have the impression that humpbacks are loath to continue vocalising when in the presence of an approaching boat. Perhaps it was because the source of the noise was a very slow moving tug - most likely a tug with a heavy log tow. These boats are notoriously slow and loud. We could see on the AIS that the Pacific Fury was barely moving, doing just .9km/hr. It took nine hours for it to finally move out of range. Meanwhile the humpback vocalised from 6:27pm until 8:20pm, took a break, and resumed at 10:46 until 11:08pm. Perhaps the break signified the period when the tug had pulled closer to the whale. All through their stay at OrcaLab Cam and Mat have been keeping track of the sea lion haulout close by. The number fluctuate but they have noted the number of nursing mums and babies. The se otters seem to like hanging out in the waters off the favoured sea lion rocks. Lots there to feed on. This concludes the second winter summary. A long one with so much going on, unusual Humpback, Gray Whale, sea otter encounters all in the background of Northern Residents and BiggÕs orcas. What is truly amazing is the number of people who enthusiastically contribute observations and relay reports. Thanks to this network, understanding what is happening along this area of the coast is made possible. Thank you!

OrcaLab
04 Feb 2023 15:31:22 PST



Superb sounds!!

A lovely humpback has decided to sing tonight!

OrcaLab
15 Jan 2023 18:17:47 PST



Superb sounds!!

And the A5s are back to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

OrcaLab
31 Dec 2022 22:55:31 PST



Superb sounds!!

A5s are back in Johnstone Strait. Lovely calls! The year isn't done yet!

OrcaLab
29 Dec 2022 17:11:29 PST



November 30 2022 LetÕs begin with an introduction to Camille and Matieu who have taken over the caretaking duties at OrcaLab for the winter. Cam and Mat hail from France via Montreal and were introduced to us by assistants Jˇrˇmie and Claire. Jˇrˇmie and Claire come from the same area in France as Cam and Mat but the couples met in Quebec. Cam and Mat bring with them an enthusiasm for whales, the ocean, the west coast and seem more than up for the challenges ahead. Since landing on the rocky shores of Hanson Island they have been rewarded by seeing and hearing humpbacks. Cam heard dolphins and both she and Mat saw Dalls porpoises on their way to one of our remote sites. BiggÕs orcas also introduced themselves both physically and vocally on separate occasions. All this in a very short time leading Cam and Mat into quick lessons in everything cetacean. To top it off, came the Northern Residents, first the A34s and then the A23s and A25s. School was definitely in! On November 30, just days after Paul and Helena left Hanson Island but with Claire and Jˇrˇmie still there instructing Cam and Mat, the distinctive calls of the A34s were heard in Blackfish Sound. It had been so long! Not since September 4 had Northern Residents been heard. The communication channels lit up immediately with exclamations of joy. In the back of everyone's mind was the knowledge that the A34s (part of the A1 pod) had graced the area for only one day in July. As the Fall progressed the expectation was that they would come back as this had been an historic pattern. But time and long days ticked by and no sign until this mid morning in November. Claire immediately recognised the A1 calls and knew instinctively that it was the A34s. Alex Morton saw them off Donegal Head and reported that they were heading southeast. Jared and Ely prepared to go out despite the snowy conditions. Indeed by the time they caught up with the whales they were committed to travelling towards Blackney Pass. It took the whales a while as the current was going against their efforts. By 11:23 there was some very clear echo location, further proof of their anticipated arrival. Everyone was either on deck bracing against the cold or busy in the Lab with the recording and monitoring the video camera. At noon exactly the first fin was visible off Burnt Point to the left of the Lab. The whales, perhaps sensing they were making progress, became vocally excited. More arrived. Over the next hour the entire family travelled past the Lab. Jared and Ely followed along taking pictures managing to take pictures of whales, the Lab, the people on deck (though small and obscured by falling snow) while those on deck returned the favour and took pictures of them and the whales offshore. By 12:58pm all had cleared in their respective close groups. The hydrophones in Johnstone Strait soon marked their progress as they crossed from Cracroft Point to Kaizumi on the Vancouver Island shore. The first members arrived there by 1:33pm, others took a while longer. Calls remained on multiple hydrophones for some time as the whales coordinated their travel. The Strait was ŅaliveÓ once again with these familiar orca calls. It was wonderful. Two Humpbacks, including Hunter, remained in Blackney Pass while all the flurry of orca activity progressed. Just after 3pm, some of the A34s began a six minute rub at Kaizumi. Ely mentioned that the A62s had been in the lead and suggested that this was most likely them. True to their travel formation earlier a second part of the family, perhaps the rest, followed the A62s lead into this beach at 3:23pm. This rub lasted a minute shy of an hour. There were some amazing calls. From there the A34s made their way east slowly and calls shifted away from the Cracroft Point and Kaizumi range to that of Strider further east. Not to be outdone, a humpback began calling off Cracroft as well at 5:52pm just prior to when the A34s approached Strider beach. The humpback stopped calling after a while but the orcas continued. Then at 6:25pm the humpback, now closer to Strider himself, began to once again call. The orcas never stopped. By 6:47pm the humpback subsided somewhat and an orca made a cursory pass over the beach. Two hours later there was another short effort in the same location. At 8:48pm another short rub at Strider began and ended at 8:52pm. The feeling in the Lab was that the A34s then continued east past the Ecological Reserve. Cam and Mat must have by now got a pretty good impression about how orcas are always on the move. The rest of the night was uneventful as the A34s stayed most likely out of range of the hydrophones until early morning at 4:30am when very distant calls lasted for an hour. It was now December 1. The rest of the day proved uneventful except for a few distant humpback sounds at 10:20pm nothing heard. December 2 did not disappoint however. Starting at 10am distant A1 calls were heard once more in Johnstone Strait. The family seemed to be spread out as they moved westward. They passed Cracroft Point and the entrance to Blackney Pass (5:23pm) most likely closer to the Vancouver Island shore. By 6:30pm those monitoring the Telegraph Cove hydrophone noted how close the calls sounded. For those at the Lab or listening to www.orca-live.net the calls were only very distant and ended just before 7pm as the whales were at the far western end of Johnstone Strait. It was now December 3. A few more calls occurred after midnight but it was difficult to assess where the whales were exactly, perhaps still west of Blackney. The night time recordings did not pick up anything until 6:24am. At least they had not left and probably now moving back east. They arrived at Kaizumi at 8:30am and went in for a rub. The rub ended 15 minutes later and the A34s carried on to the east from there. By 10:08am they were approaching Strider where a rub began at 10:11am. This one lasted until 10:20am. By now it seemed as if the A34s had settled into a routine of travelling up and down the Strait. Sure enough they soon turned west again. This time they did not dawdle. They came all the way to Cracroft Point and turned into Blackney Pass by 12pm and within forty minutes they had cleared into Blackfish Sound. The hopeful expectation was that they would most likely do a circuit around Hanson Island and return to the Strait. It was not to be and the A34s disappeared to where they had come from just three days before. Sigh, they were gone. But the Lab was not quite done. On December 4 there were BiggÕs orcas heard between 8:34pm and 9:21pm in Johnstone Strait. Then ten days later on December 14 the Northern Residents were back. This time it was the A23s and A25s. Alex issued the first alert just before 9am when she saw a group of eight orcas spyhopping. She was pretty sure it was not BiggÕs orcas as they rounded Donegal Head and travelled through Weynton into Johnstone Strait. When their calls became audible in the Strait it became very apparent that these visitors were from the A5 pod. Claire, who by this time was back in France with Jˇrˇmie, was listening and knew instantly that she was hearing A5 calls. Jared and Ely took advantage of the conditions and headed out from Alert Bay. They identified the A23s in the lead with the A25s following some distance behind. Rubs were on hand at Kaizumi just before 12pm and then at Strider at 3pm. They wasted little time turning around afterwards and by 4:17pm the Cracroft Point hydrophone was hearing their calls once again. By 6:49pm they were approaching the area opposite Telegraph Cove. On their journey westward they had most likely travelled closer to the Vancouver Island shore. By 9pm there were no further calls heard and the assumption was that they had left the area. December 11 had marked the 53rd anniversary of CorkyÕs capture. Corky is part of the A23s. Stripe or A23 was CorkyÕs mother. Fife (A60) and Ripple (A43) are CorkyÕs brother and sister. Last year, at this same time, A5s (CorkyÕs pod) visited Johnstone Strait. Coincidence? It is now December 16 and Cam and Mat continue to settle into the routines of winter living managing the power situation and staying warm. More snow is in the forecast and early this morning they heard Biggs orcas calling once more.

OrcaLab
16 Dec 2022 07:25:22 PST



Superb sounds!!

Bigg's orcas very vocal in Blackfish Sound. A humpback is nearby as well.

OrcaLab
26 Nov 2022 04:12:23 PST



Superb sounds!!

Great again! This humpback is in Blackfish Sound.

OrcaLab
24 Nov 2022 21:38:16 PST



Superb sounds!!

Ready for more? Humpback in Blackfish Sound calling, calling

OrcaLab
22 Nov 2022 17:54:42 PST



Superb sounds!!

Once again a humpback has dug in near Parson Island and is calling away! So lovely!

OrcaLab
21 Nov 2022 19:51:30 PST



Superb sounds!!

AGAIN! lovely humpback calls happening.

OrcaLab
20 Nov 2022 18:42:17 PST



Superb sounds!!

Incredible Humpback Whale song right now. Give it a listen!!! Well worth it, promise!

OrcaLab
19 Nov 2022 17:44:06 PST



Superb sounds!!

Beautiful Humpback Whale calls right now.

OrcaLab
18 Nov 2022 20:58:11 PST



October 3 & 4 2022 Orcas: T069Ds, T049As (part), T060s (part) Humpbacks: Cutter Pacific White-sided dolphins The area has been awash in BiggÕs activity recently. We begin with October 3. Throughout the night our encounters (the T069Ds had been in Blackney Pass the previous day) continued with an amazingly sustained three hours (12:04 am - 2:54am) of their calling in Blackfish Sound. What had excited this effort? We will never know of course but it did speak to how dug into the area multiple groups are right now. Humpbacks were not denied their voice while the BiggÕs prevailed and Claire noted during the review of the night recordings the several times humpbacks were heard, some of the sound sequences were very beautiful. Also the humpbacks had the last word ending their calling around 6:30am. Astonishingly, the night was clear once again, the stars very bright - shear magic with all that was going on below. We endured the fog in the morning and then welcomed the warm bright sun in the afternoon. Summer has yet to leave us. The day was uneventful. We sent visiting Mark and Jesse off to get a fish for dinner. They had already harvested a basket of chanterelles. Claire harvested greens from the garden and Jˇrˇmie made bread. We sat down to all this bounty and felt as if Thanksgiving had come a week early. The starry night showed itself once again and the humpbacks, without any BiggÕs contribution this time, started up just after 11pm. The humpbacks ruled the early morning hours. Hour after hour they (it sounded like more than one) moaned, creaked, sang, whistled and groaned. One had the feeling the night was all about feeding and less about socializing on this occasion. They carried on past dawn. Megan and Helena had gotten up early to participate in a Born Free Foundation endeavour to mark World Animal Day. Several schools in the UK participated. By the time it was finished dawn was just breaking and the inevitable fog rolling in. As Mark and Jesse were preparing to leave in the afternoon the fog was thining but a thick bank still lay along the shore of Parson Island. On the edge of this bank the tall form of a male orca was seen fleetingly. It took an eternity for this whale to surface again but when he finally did so the fog had dissipated and we saw that there were three orcas in total. It was 1:15pm. We became convinced that these orcas were the same T049As as two days previous. They were almost in the exact same spot and aiming once again to worry the sea lions gathered around the rocks near the Parson Island Light. This time however, the mood was different. The orcas were much more low keyed and although they created a small buzz amongst the sea lions in the water at the Light and later in the first bay on Parson Island, their pace was more nonchalant. Unlike the time before when they took nearly three hours to finally move on, this time they worked their way along the shoreline and into the space between Parson and Hanson Islands much faster. Their incredibly long dives made it a challenge to follow them. We gave up just before 1:30pm. At 2pm Claire saw a sea otter pass headed south along the Hanson Island shore. Mark and Jesse, now in their sailboat, proved very helpful. While tacking across Blackney into Blackfish Sound they saw and reported 5 orcas just around the corner from the Lab. Sure enough at 2:12pm the T060s popped up off Burnt Point. There were five orcas so we suspect T002B might have been there too just as she was the other day. They were in a hurry and moved smartly parallel to the Hanson shore and out of view by 2:26pm. Based on the boats that were following them they may have gone west after arriving in Johnstone Strait. We cannot be sure but they, still in a hurry, may have been the ones Mark and Jesse off Stubbs Island at 3:56pm. We too were not done quite yet with BiggÕs orcas. The T049As turned up once more between Parson Island Light and the edge of Parson Island. This time they caused some panicking amongst the sea lions especially in that same first bay on Parson Island. By 5:07pm they had moved further along Parson Island, a pattern repeating itself! Once off the south end of Parson they took a long dive and we assumed they cleared to the south. Then around 6:40pm they showed up yet again. This time they cruised the sea lions hauled out on the Hanson Island shore. They were no more lucky here and carried on past the Lab during a long deep dive and resurfaced near Burnt Point at 6:45pm. After they cleared our view at 6:48pm we were able to follow them till 6:53pm on the remote camera in Blackfish Sound. A pretty evening sky and sunset followed and we readied ourselves for the night ahead. Dolphins became chatty in Johnstone Strait at 9:20pm and then two less than vocal humpbacks swirled around close to Flower Island in Blackfish Sound and Parson Island in Blackney Pass.

OrcaLab
04 Oct 2022 21:26:16 PST



October 1 2022 Orcas: Bigg’s, T049A1, T049A3,T049A4? Humpbacks: Conger, Inukshuk Today began as most days recently, with thick fog. Most of the starry night had been clear and full of the presence of humpbacks made known by their calls near and far. On September 29 and 30 Bigg’s orcas had declared themselves vocally both at night and during the day. Really a lot going on and this day, the first day of October, was no exception. The fog eventually cleared and we made ready to say good-bye to Kat who, though only with us for ten days, had once again (she had been here before) become part of as she described it ‘this special community”. Just before 3pm while we were waiting for the boat to be ready we saw orcas on the very far side of Blackney Pass opposite Harbledown Island. Orcas were the very furthest thing from our minds and we had just remarked that there had not been any humpbacks seen since the fog lifted. The orcas were already being followed by a boat. Their progress was very slow as they moved against the opposing current. There were three that we could see but as they were so very far over no identifications were immediately obvious. The “who” was of little consequence to the nervous sea lions nearby. They had good reason to be nervous as these Bigg’s orcas were hungry and determined. Sure enough as they pushed forward toward the northern edge of Parson Island they found a victim. Even at a distance their deliberate movements told of their intent. We could see the targeted sea lion hit then swim away on its own only to become the focus of attention of the orcas once again after they turned around and went straight back for another go. They tossed the hapless sea lion in the air and then continued to surround it. By this time the boats had been drawn to the scene by the obvious activity. They had initially gone past where the hunt began so turned around and nosed in toward the action. This was of concern because the presence of the boats could so easily have disrupted the hunt. As it happened the orcas remained very focused and over the course of the afternoon stayed over by the Parson Island shore going back and forth moving only short distances in both directions. In one of the bay nearby a group of sea lions had massed together splashing, stretching out their necks, keeping watch. Another equally agitated group of sea lions clung to the now submerging rocks by Parson Light. The orcas continued to be engaged in foraging behaviours, diving, turning, leaping. Even when the current changed these orcas were slow to change and move on. Movement south was incremental. They had been silent during the whole encounter until they moved away from Parson Island. It was now 4:19pm. Preceding this move just after 4pm a large tug and barge transporting a massive crane entered Blackney Pass and transited north. It overtook a smaller transport boat and passed the orcas without incident. In its wake the orcas began to vocalize and occupy the area between Parson and Hanson Islands. A lot of sea lions were now hauled out on the Hanson Island rocks. They did not seem to be particularly worried. Before exiting Blackney Pass the large barge passed a cruise ship coming from Blackfish Sound. The Pass was awash in noise. The cruise ship passed through close to where the orcas were milling. The calls paused for a short while as the ship advanced and then resumed at 4:28pm. Breaches followed. The Bigg’s made whistles, echo location and a variety of low murmuring sounds. Then at 4:44pm a large articulated tug (pusher tug) came through from Johnstone Strait, It seemed as if the parade of boats was going to be endless! Twelve minutes later the Bigg’s orcas departed our view to the south, still calling all the way to Johnstone Strait where they were found on the Cracroft Point remote camera at 5:33pm. Their calls lasted until 5:54pm and by then they were long gone visually. Conger, the first humpback of the day, appeared in Blackney Pass around 7pm along with another unidentified individual and a very active Inukshuk was seen in Blackfish Sound by the Double Bay crew. Shortly afterwards we began to record humpback sounds in Blackfish Sound along with a few flurries of dolphins calls, a good hint about what to expect come the rest of the night.

OrcaLab
02 Oct 2022 11:07:14 PST



September 28 2022 Orcas: T002B?, T060s (-T060D, T060E), T49As. T49Bs Humpbacks: Claw, Crochet, Gaurdian Pacific White-sided dolphins Our day was condensed into two and a half hours. Waking again to dense fog after another clear night and very vocal humpbacks we were all brought collectively into sharp focus with Kat’s surprising shout of “ORCA!” just before 8am. Everyone hurried into action. Cameras, scopes were quickly turned to Burnt Point. The orcas were near and so not hidden in the fog. A group of panicked sea lions clustered together stretching their necks, swirling around in the water next to the shore in a huge pack. One could sense their intense nervousness. The orcas sauntered by and began to angle in toward the sea lion haul out a short distance ahead. We counted five then later identified the distinctive T060C and the rest of his family. Missing were the two brother T060D & E but possibly T002B was there which gave an explanation to the extra whale in the group. Probably not willing to risk taking on a whole mob of sea lions and seeing no great opportunity these Bigg’s orcas carried on past. They disappeared from view at 8:14am. Dori and Jordan, who were set to leave later, were stunned like the rest of us by this close and dramatic passing. Little did we imagine that it would be repeated in even more dramatic fashion just two hours later. At 10:38am Kat again spotted orcas near to Burnt Point. The fog had cleared by then and so was not an issue. The orcas pushed forward but were temporarily stymied by the current which took them back around Burnt Point and out of sight. We found them not too far away on the Flower Island camera. Within ten minutes they were back and very close to the Hanson Island shore. They took advantage of the back eddies and rushed past. Although somewhat spread out from each other one individual was just meters offshore flanked by even closer sea lions. These Bigg’s, members of the T049A & Bs also made for the sea lion rocks occupied by many. many sea lions. The pack of agitated sea lions still paralleled the Bigg’s path all the way along Hanson Island. The Bigg’s stayed in view by moving across to the Cracroft Island shore and then turning toward Baronet Passage where we later learned they had finally found and killed a sea lion. Mission complete. The rest of our day was spent looking through the pictures carefully, completing the review of the night recordings, loading the boat for town, and saying a fond good-bye to Jordan and Dori whose hard work and endless cheerful efforts will be sorely missed. The beautifully warm sunny day entertained some rainy downpours . Jérémie declared at one point - “We have dolphins, three humpbacks, and two rainbows.” What a very complete and satisfying day!

OrcaLab
29 Sep 2022 09:15:47 PDT



Superb sounds!!

We thought you might like to hear this humpback from the 24th - just incase you missed it! https://soundcloud.com/user-361819329/the-daily-humpback

OrcaLab
26 Sep 2022 00:10:54 PDT



September 21 -24 It has been four days since we last posted a summary. The days have been busy and our focus has been mainly on the humpbacks and sea lions. The dolphins, still around, have quieted down. The humpbacks seen recently include Inukshuk, Stitch, Guardian, Meteorite, Hunter and Quartz. Kim, who has just left, visited for two weeks and dedicated herself to the daily scans was treated to a beautiful sunrise with a lovely, active humpback rolling in the glowing sea. Kim was an assistant in 1992! Emma, who was a great help all summer, has also left for new adventures. Our numbers here at the Lab continue to pair down. This is to be expected now that Fall is here. Suzie, who has been managing many aspects of the Lab all summer, left at the same time as Emma. In their place, previous volunteer Kat, arrived to help out for a short while. She has taken on KimÕs duties. Visitors included, an old friend, Michael & his daughter Suzie. They stayed for a week. We managed to all (well just about everyone) go for a barbecue at Double Bay (western end of Hanson Island) and then return the favour by inviting Matchu and Nicolette to dinner here. Quite surprising have been the number of times humpbacks have become vocal during the day. We expect to hear their sounds at night and only occasionally and usually only briefly during the day. Now it seems to matter less and daytime vocals are becoming more common.

OrcaLab
25 Sep 2022 00:42:13 PDT



September 18,19, 20 Humpbacks: Merge,Stitch,Inukshuk, possibly Quartz, BCXuk2022#7, Pacific White-sided Dolphins The last few days can be summed up pretty quickly: humpbacks, dolphins, sea lions! The humpbacks and the dolphins have kept the airways lively with their sounds; from the humpbacks - growls, grunts, high pitched swoops, down sweeps, burbles, bubbles, whups and more; from the dolphins - lots of chatter, echo location and splashy sounds. Even the sea lions contribute with their loud growls when hauled out, snorts and wheezes when in the water. The past three nights have been filled, almost non stop with humpback and dolphin calls, from close to far away, mostly in Blackfish Sound, occasionally in Blackney Pass. September 18 was marked by some very beautiful humpback sounds through the night, especially from 1:30am until 5:30am, complemented by dolphins throughout. In the afternoon a huge flock of dolphins charged into Blackney Pass. A large number of sea lions joined them as both indulged in a frenzy of feeding, charging one way, then another, all at high speed while energetically leaping and splashing. It began around 2:30pm and did not let up until past 4:30pm when a humpback got into the act and surfaced close to the Lab amongst the crazed scene. This humpback turned out to be an individual who had not been seen in this area before but who was apparently a regular in Southeast Alaska since 2016. We did not know this until Jackie Hildering of MERS had a look at the good pictures Paul took and told us. Prior to that we had scoured the Humpback ID catalogue over and over trying to find a match with no luck and so we finally sent Jackies the pictures. MERS has assigned this humpback with the temporary ID of BCXuk2022#7 while they investigate if SEAK (Southeast Alaska) has already given this humpback a nickname. We are waiting to find out. After BCXuk2022#7 pushed in, the dolphin scene shifted into Blackfish Sound where we continued to watch on the remote camera. From 6pm on and through the rest of the evening and early morning of September 19 there were near continuous humpback and dolphin conversations, close at first, then more distant and intermittent as time went on. Inukshuk, mid afternoon of September 19 was again very active physically, this time in Blackney Pass. He had the dubious pleasure of attracting both dolphins and sea lions who surrounded him. He reappeared, still very active, just after 5pm. This time dolphins were not noted but the humpback sounds then were most likely from him. The ever present dolphins continued their chatter in Blackfish Sound from 9:48pm past the September 20 midnight. Distant at first, an inevitable humpback struck up on his own and the two species then toggled their sounds through the rest of the early hours until an equally inevitable boat impacted the soundscape. Sporadic efforts faded off into the distance. A much smaller group of dolphins and sea lions were back foraging across from the Lab at 8:50am and between 12:30pm and 3:15pm a humpback made vocal probably while engaged in feeding at the southern end of Blackney Pass. The dolphins in the same local were talkative too. Boat noise intruded again, this time from the Alaskan Ferry as it transited through. Humpback and dolphins alike gave up. The sea lions by afternoon were back on the rocks in numbers. Around seventy were hauled out on the local Hanson Island rocks, a few on the exposed rocks by Parson Light and surprisingly over twenty on the Bell Rocks. The evening humpback and dolphin serenade began at 9:15pm with a nice variety of sounds from both groups. The blows of an individual humpback before 11pm seemed particularly close to the Lab so the night promised to be busy once again. Hard to miss the Northern Resident orcas (but we certainly do) with all this going on!

OrcaLab
21 Sep 2022 09:07:04 PDT



September 15 2022 Humpbacks: Guardian, Merge, Black Pearl, Kraken and possibly Claw and Crochet. Pacific White-sided dolphins We skipped the summary for the 14th mainly because most of the day had been very, very foggy and there was very, very little to report. The 15th was a different story. Starting after midnight, the dolphins, who had been so active a couple of days previous, made a return to Blackfish Sound and became very chatty over the course of the next several hours during which they came close to a feeding humpback, went through to Johnstone Strait, produced some deliciously clear vocals, cut close to Cracroft Point and kept going in Johnstone Strait. Afterwards, the humpback who had been mostly distant in Blackfish Sound, drew closer to where the hydrophone is located and made his presence dramatically known at 5;30am. Loud calls and grumbles accompanied water movements, bubble making and terrifically huge slaps on the water by either pectoral fins or tail. The dolphins had woken everyone but the humpback kept everyone awake. Emma got up and kept notes throughout both events. Claire and Jˇrˇmie at ŅCPÓ were awake too, first noticing the dolphins rushing (as they do) past the platform at 4:30am and then listening to the humpback in Blackfish Sound. Those overseas or elsewhere had tuned in as well, such a nice community brought together by these shared experiences. Despite the lingering smoke from the recent Interior forest fires the day broke free of fog. We are noticing, like everyone else, how late the sunrises now happen as the earth moves closer to the Equinox. Officially, sunrise occurred at 7:05am. It does not seem that long ago that daylight would begin to creep in as early as 4am followed by daybreak at 5am! The dolphins returned later in the day. Before 10:30am they were sighted in Blackfish Sound heading east. About a half hour later they were in view on the far side. Quixotically they changed direction often, shifting closer to the Hanson Island side and then passing the Lab while still giving the impression of being in a hurry. Surely they were chasing something of interest as they travelled generally east toward the sea lion rocks. No sea lions on the rocks but those in the water joined the dolphins with full body jumps that mirrored the antics of the dolphins. Perhaps they were just making sure the dolphins kept going. Some even went out of sight, others headed over toward Parson Island on the far side once again. Doing another 180 the dolphins travelled back to White Beach Pass, a bit further to Compton Island then back again to Parson Bay. Emma declared, ŅI canÕt keep up! At 12:30pm they were still in the Pass between Hanson and Parson Islands. They were chatty, splashy and foraging. Finally by 1pm they made it to Johnstone Strait where they enjoyed more foraging in the currents of the strong riptide west of Cracroft Point. They went west, then east and then back into the entrance to Blackney Pass and Blackney Pass proper, not slowing down the entire time. Finally around 1:40pm they committed to Johnstone Strait which they crossed, bow-riding a large cruise ship, all the while still chatting away. A breakaway group still in Blackney Pass took their turn on another cruise shipÕs bow as they moved toward Johnstone Strait. During the evening the dolphin movement never stopped. Chatty as ever they found their way back to Blackfish Sound. Do hope they find what they are looking for! At least in the absence of BiggÕs orcas they had the freedom to roam and the chance to feed undisturbed. Meanwhile, several humpbacks took advantage of Blackney Pass. Merge, Guardian, Black Pearl and her baby Kraken were present. Claw and her baby Crochet may well have been there too. In comparison to the frenetic dolphins the humpbacks looked sedate and calm. Quite the contrast. The rest of the evening was plagued with boat noise - a somewhat irritating end of what had been a lovely day.

OrcaLab
16 Sep 2022 08:21:57 PDT



September 13 2022 Orcas: T018, T019s, T124As,T124C Humpbacks: Merge, Hunter, Guardian We picked up the distant calls of a humpback on Parson Island at 12:49am. He called intermittently in the same location on and off throughout the early morning hours, occasionally sustaining his effort for brief moments. He was never close to the hydrophone. At 5:31am, the Flower Island registered distant calls shortly after a few last calls on the Parson Island hydrophone. It was as if this individual had been in Blackney Pass the whole time, at first favouring the south side then moving closer to Blackfish Sound in the end. It was all over by 5:33am. We noticed a lot of “feed” showing on the spectrogram, probably schools of fish. Distinct bubbles were heard at 4:31am so we imagined this whale had lots of opportunity to feed. It would be a theme throughout the day. Every humpback we saw in Blackney Pass was busily engaged in feeding throughout the day. Telltale signs of seabirds hovering over the surface often preceded great amounts of splashing, twisting and turning of the feeding humpbacks below. The many, many sea lions, yet to really begin their haul-out on the local rocks, were busy looking for food as well. The large group of Pacific White-sided dolphins, who rushed west in Johnstone Strait and into Blackney Pass, seemed on the other hand to have other concerns. No time to stop or even pause. They were first seen at 12:47pm by Claire and Jerémié while at the “CP” camp at Cracroft Point. Ten minutes later they turned into Blackney Pass where they rushed past the Lab on the farside of mid channel. The remote camera at Flower Island followed these speedy creatures as they flew by and carried on to the west in a flurry of splashes and bits of chatter that lasted until 1:50pm. Less than an hour later Bigg’s orcas turned up off of the Sophia Islands, just as the dolphins had two hours before. But instead of coming into Blackney Pass the Bigg’s orcas continued west past CP followed by eight whale watching boats! The T019s with T018 were closest to CP as they passed. The T124As , along with T124C, were mid-strait. By 3:15pm they were in the riptide currents to the west of CP. Fifteen minutes later they were across and heading “up” the Strait to the west. The humpbacks, Merge and Guardian, who had paired up earlier, were foraging in the same rip a short while later. The Bigg’s were still in the Strait at 4:30pm but by then closer to the Stephanson Islands. They were still there an hour later when Paul and Megan were returning from town. Before being drowned out by boat noise more dolphin chatter was heard in the Strait just after 5pm for forty minutes. Bigg’s orcas also became vocal from 6:30pm to 6:44pm before their calls disappeared into additional boat noise. Jared Towers commented that T019C was vocal while off Alert Bay at 6:50pm. We don’t know the details of of the movements of the Bigg’s orcas and the dolphins but it is likely they converged at some point, the dolphins from the direction of Blackfish Sound and the Bigg’s from Johnstone Strait. Were the Bigg’s the reason for the dolphin rush earlier and was it their fate to meet anyway? A large fog bank threatened to engulf Blackfish Sound all afternoon. The Strait was pretty clear but later more fog blanketed the area. So enveloped, day gave way to a much less eventful night.

OrcaLab
14 Sep 2022 09:30:15 PDT



September 11 2022 Humpbacks: Stitch,Quartz, Inukshuk Merge Pacific White-sided dolphins Here were the major events of our day: At 5:23am a humpback obliged by vocalising beautifully when off Parson Island. With Flower Island hydrophone down at the moment it was great that this humpback moved venues. He called until 5:55am. An early dive at Flower Island. This was a tricky dive because the hydrophone mooring had slipped off its ledge to a greater depth. Fortunately, it was, though deep, just within Megan and Suzie’s limit. They managed to secure the mooring which was then hauled up onto the boat. The hydrophone was replaced successfully but it will another dive before it can be deployed. Good work on everyone’s part! In the afternoon, a lone Glaucous-winged gull was seen swimming in the bay. This was the first Glaucous-winged gull seen this summer. Normally they arrive back from their breeding grounds in August. Of course, we were curious, hopeful and almost convinced instantly that this individual was ‘Uni” the Glaucous-winged gull who has been returning to these shores for some twenty years. She earned her nickname by her habit of looking for small green urchins that have moved up the kelp fronds, dipping her head under the water, pulling them off and then carrying them to one of three favourite spots and eating them. Sure enough after a survey of the bay this bird dutifully caught and urchin (uni in japanese) and carried it off. We were then certain and celebrated, hastily explaining to the uninitiated the reason for our glee. Around the same time as spotting Uni’s arrival back we had the task of saying yet more good-byes. Freddy, Nancy and David were leaving. Freddy has been with us since June. In that time she has fully embraced life on the island. Her paintings that adorn the camp kitchen will endure as will the memories of her bread and cheerful disposition. Nancy and David came as a WorkAway couple with Nancy managing the kitchen and preparing dinners for 12 -25. Always upbeat, many times insightful Nancy brought a lot of heart to the job. David did everything, bucking wood, building bat boxes, laying down flooring, constructing a new outhouse, running the boat. His energy,willingness and right helpful attitude was so welcomed. These three will be sorely missed. In the background were humpbacks busily feeding mostly on the far side of the Pass and a group of dolphins in Blackfish Sound travelling south for a while.

OrcaLab
12 Sep 2022 08:56:47 PDT



September 10 2022 Orcas: T049As (- T049A1, T049A2) Humpbacks: Stitch, Guardian Pacific White-sided dolphins We start with the moon. For several days now the moon and its companion, Jupiter, have risen over Blackney Pass amidst clear, unimpeded southeast skies. Tonight, the sea lies flat, still and thus receptive to the soft pale reflected lights from above. And so, beguiled by the magic of sea, moon and sky the night begins. All is not quite perfect. In the absence of the Northern Resident orcas our nights seem less busy. We remain vigilant listeners straining, hoping the orcas will return. Not yet it seems. Additionally, our hydrophone at Flower Island is in need of maintenance. The signal has become unreliable denying us the opportunity to hear and record the humpbacks in this favoured location when they start ŅsingingÓ into the dark of night. The nights, therefore are not without shape and substance but now they seem to stretch long without the once familiar busyness of the orcas. On occasion a humpback or two have drawn close to the Hanson Island shore sending their breaths reverberating through the night air; at other times chatty dolphins lend their voices to the void; and of course, the steady ever present drone of far away or closer boats remind us that other purposes are afoot. Daylight began with once again heavy fog and it was a while before it burned off. Morning plans of transport needed to go on hold. David, the ever willing boat driver, at first opportunity, went to Cracroft Point to retrieve Megan and Suzie who were needed for the dive at Flower Island set for later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, visitors, Nicolae and Susanne waited patiently for their ride back to Telegraph Cove. Likewise volunteer Eli who was on their way to Alert Bay on the same trip took advantage of the delay to say more good-byes and finish packing. We will miss EliÕs quick and lively company all the while wondering how those two months went by so quickly. With morning, good-byes and boat trips well under way, life settled down at the Lab. Around 11:30am, we noticed unexpectedly what looked to be the definite shape of a close vocalization on the Critical Point hydrophone. It had not been heard nor repeated. One possible source was the dolphins, reported by Scotty, seen rushing towards the eastern boundary of the Ecological Reserve. Another explanation, suggested later, was the westbound BiggÕs orcas who made a much later sudden appearance off of Cracroft Point. Had these BiggÕs caused the dolphins to rush away in the opposite direction? Jordan and Dori had stepped in to look after ŅCPÓ in place of Megan and Suzie. Just after 4pm, they saw a group of orcas move past them and into Blackney Pass. These whales came into view of the Lab just after 4:30pm just as the dive trip to Flower Island was about to get under way. Kim and Laurens, who had arrived back with David earlier that afternoon, got to see orcas on their first day on Hanson Island! The orcas were arranged in two small groups, three travelling ahead, two behind. They cleared into Blackfish Sound at 4:55pm and continued west. After a brief distraction of watching a mother and baby humpback pair we managed to locate and follow the BiggÕs through the afternoon glare with the aid of the remote camera as they headed past Double Bay and the Plumper Islands. Jared, who was there by this time, identified the group as the T049As. The dive at Flower Island turned out to be more complicated than expected and will need unfortunately an additional dive before the hydrophone can be retrieved and looked at. We gathered at the end of the day for dinner and as there were to be more departures the next day we reminisced about everyoneÕs favourite whale moments of the the summer while eating the last of FreddyÕs delicious cinnamon buns and sipping hot chocolate. So many memories and good times.

OrcaLab
11 Sep 2022 09:30:59 PDT



September 6 2022 Humpbacks: Squiggle, Cutter, Black Pearl and Kraken, Guardian (CP) Today started off as the last few have, with the drawn out sounds of a Humpback singing. The composition was heard on the Flower Island hydrophone in the early hours of the morning during the sleepless night shift. He sang on and off until around 0300 when he quieted down to a muted hum. At dawn, radiant beams of light peared out over Parson Bay, delivering a breathtaking sunrise and an unexpected break from the foggy mornings that have become routine here on Hanson Island. Against the golden backdrop, a bald eagle flew back to the aerie in the trees near the lab, no doubt from fishing for an early breakfast. A few minutes later, Squiggle, a beloved humpback among lab assistants, was seen traveling north. Another humpback, Cutter, was also milling around Parson Bay at sunrise, and stayed close for the entirety of the day. Cutter was seen trap feeding on three separate occasions, and was around for over 7 hours until late afternoon. This afternoon, our assistant Jordan spotted the first Stellar Sea Lion of the season checking out the amenities at Sea Lion Rock south of the Lab on the Hanson Island shore. As the days go by, the rocks around Parson Lighthouse across Blackney Pass get more packed with gargantuan Stellar Sea Lions hauled out, competing for the limited resting space that varies with the tides. At the lab, there is a near constant drone of grumbling vocalisations heard bellowing from across the Pass as Sea Lions who have managed to score a spot warn others of their dominance over the sought-after territory. It was no surprise then that this curious visitor came over to see whether our Sea Lion rock might make a suitable place to settle.This perhaps marks the beginning of the seasonal movement resident Sea Lions undertake that many Orcalab supporters have watched on the livestream in previous years. We look forward to the arrival of our noisy neighbors in the coming weeks! Black Pearl and her calf, Kraken, were also seen milling closely to each other in the afternoon in front of the lab, and Guardian was spotted close to Cracroft Point station. Three harlequin ducks spent some time around the deck, showing off their feathers in flight and swimming peacefully in the water below. With fewer assistants on the island and the absence of the Northern Residents, the camp has become suddenly much quieter. We hope, while we go about with various other projects to hear those resident calls once again before long. We are already, even after only a couple of days, miss them!

OrcaLab
07 Sep 2022 08:20:27 PDT



September 5 2022 Orcas: T123s, T035As, T038As Humpbacks: Guardian, Cutter, Lure Pacific White-Sided Dolphins Today, palpable anticipation hung around the lab and among community members, as the Northern Resident groups were not seen nor heard in the area for the first time since early July. It is a day that inevitably comes every year, but it will not stop us from willing their return. We desperately hope that this is a simple sojourn to the west, perhaps to say goodbye to a few groups, and not a final ŌoutÕ for the season! Coincidentally, today we also waved goodbye to two of our seasoned volunteers: Shari and Momoko. Shari spent her sixth summer with us, living at our remote outpost on Cracroft Point for six weeks with her best friend of fifteen years, Megan. Momoko returned for her eleventh season this year and it was incredible to have them both with us again for the first time since the pandemic. We love you,Shari & Momoko, and will miss you dearly, At the lab, the now-dwindling crew of volunteers continued to watch and listen to the waters of Blackney Pass, Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound day and night. We were treated to another humpback in Blackfish in the early hours. He began to ŌgruntÕ and ŌwhupÕ at 4:21 am and, by 5:30 am, he had definitely broken into the beginnings of a song! He continued for an hour or so until interrupted by loud, persistent boat noise invading his space. As these humpbacks begin to sing, we can tell that fall is certainly around the corner. Despite the Northern Residents M.I.A., we did receive reports of a large group of BiggÕs in the area today, and even caught a glimpse of them on camera. At 9:53 am the first report came in from Scotty, that orcas were heading east from Telegraph Cove, later identified as the T123s, T035As and T038As. At 1:08 pm, they were visible to the Wardens from the Cliff, traveling more mid-Strait. They identified at least the T038As. At 1:47 pm we could see them on Strider cam, traveling slowly - shortly after a group of DallsÕ Porpoises was seen on the camera, too. The orcas continued east, in no particular hurry, spending a long time at the surface as opposed to long, deep dives. They were last seen passing Naka Creek around 5 pm. Back at the lab, our assistants made most of the quieter times to catch up on some work and tuck into some of the newly-baked fresh bread that Freddy has been making all summer. Between her and Jˇrˇmie, we have had a fresh loaf every evening for almost two months! As the water turned a pinky glow in the evening light, a family of six river otters passed the lab and, shortly after, a large group of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins headed north past the deck and into the sunset. From 9pm to midnight, the chatter of dolphins and another round of humpback ŌwhupsÕ saw us through to the early hours. Overnight, we will continue to listen and wait for those familiar faint orca calls that set our hearts a-flutter.

OrcaLab
06 Sep 2022 11:26:12 PDT



September 5 2022 Orcas: T123s, T035As, T038As Humpbacks: Guardian, Cutter, Lure Pacific White-Sided Dolphins Today, palpable anticipation hung around the lab and among community members, as the Northern Resident groups were not seen nor heard in the area for the first time since early July. It is a day that inevitably comes every year, but it will not stop us from willing their return. We desperately hope that this is a simple sojourn to the west, perhaps to say goodbye to a few groups, and not a final ‘out’ for the season! Coincidentally, today we also waved goodbye to two of our seasoned volunteers: Shari and Momoko. Shari spent her sixth summer with us, living at our remote outpost on Cracroft Point for six weeks with her best friend of fifteen years, Megan. Momoko returned for her eleventh season this year and it was incredible to have them both with us again for the first time since the pandemic. We love you,Shari & Momoko, and will miss you dearly, At the lab, the now-dwindling crew of volunteers continued to watch and listen to the waters of Blackney Pass, Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound day and night. We were treated to another humpback in Blackfish in the early hours. He began to ‘grunt’ and ‘whup’ at 4:21 am and, by 5:30 am, he had definitely broken into the beginnings of a song! He continued for an hour or so until interrupted by loud, persistent boat noise invading his space. As these humpbacks begin to sing, we can tell that fall is certainly around the corner. Despite the Northern Residents M.I.A., we did receive reports of a large group of Bigg’s in the area today, and even caught a glimpse of them on camera. At 9:53 am the first report came in from Scotty, that orcas were heading east from Telegraph Cove, later identified as the T123s, T035As and T038As. At 1:08 pm, they were visible to the Wardens fro the Cliff, traveling more mid-Strait. They could identify at least the T038As. At 1:47 pm we could see them on Strider cam, traveling slowly - shortly after a group of Dalls’ Porpoises was seen on the camera, too. They continued east, in no particular hurry, spending a long time at the surface as opposed to long, deep dives. They were last seen passing Naka Creek around 5 pm. Back at the lab, our assistants made most of the quieter times to catch up on some work and tuck into some of the newly-baked fresh bread that Freddy has been making all summer. Between her and Jérémie, we have had a fresh loaf every evening for almost two months! As the water turned a pinky glow in the evening light, a family of six river otters passed the lab and, shortly after, a large group of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins headed north past the deck and into the sunset. From 9pm to midnight, the chatter of dolphins and another round of humpback ‘whups’ saw us through to the early hours. Overnight, we will continue to listen and wait for those familiar faint orca calls that set our hearts a-flutter.

OrcaLab
06 Sep 2022 11:20:33 PDT



September 5 2022 Orcas: T123s, T035As, T038As Humpbacks: Guardian, Cutter, Lure Pacific White-Sided Dolphins Today, palpable anticipation hung around the lab and among community members, as the Northern Resident groups were not seen nor heard in the area for the first time since early July. It is a day that inevitably comes every year, but it will not stop us from willing their return. We desperately hope that this is a simple sojourn to the west, perhaps to say goodbye to a few groups, and not a final ‘out’ for the season! Coincidentally, today we also waved goodbye to two of our seasoned volunteers: Shari and Momoko. Shari spent her sixth summer with us, living at our remote outpost on Cracroft Point for six weeks with her best friend of fifteen years, Megan. Momoko returned for her eleventh season this year and it was incredible to have them both with us again for the first time since the pandemic. We love you,Shari & Momoko, and will miss you dearly, At the lab, the now-dwindling crew of volunteers continued to watch and listen to the waters of Blackney Pass, Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound day and night. We were treated to another humpback in Blackfish in the early hours. He began to ‘grunt’ and ‘whup’ at 4:21 am and, by 5:30 am, he had definitely broken into the beginnings of a song! He continued for an hour or so until interrupted by loud, persistent boat noise invading his space. As these humpbacks begin to sing, we can tell that fall is certainly around the corner. Despite the Northern Residents M.I.A., we did receive reports of a large group of Bigg’s in the area today, and even caught a glimpse of them on camera. At 9:53 am the first report came in from Scotty, that orcas were heading east from Telegraph Cove, later identified as the T123s, T035As and T038As. At 1:08 pm, they were visible to the Wardens fro the Cliff, traveling more mid-Strait. They could identify at least the T038As. At 1:47 pm we could see them on Strider cam, traveling slowly - shortly after a group of Dalls’ Porpoises was seen on the camera, too. They continued east, in no particular hurry, spending a long time at the surface as opposed to long, deep dives. They were last seen passing Naka Creek around 5 pm. Back at the lab, our assistants made most of the quieter times to catch up on some work and tuck into some of the newly-baked fresh bread that Freddy has been making all summer. Between her and Jérémie, we have had a fresh loaf every evening for almost two months! As the water turned a pinky glow in the evening light, a family of six river otters passed the lab and, shortly after, a large group of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins headed north past the deck and into the sunset. From 9pm to midnight, the chatter of dolphins and another round of humpback ‘whups’ saw us through to the early hours. Overnight, we will continue to listen and wait for those familiar faint orca calls that set our hearts a-flutter.

OrcaLab
06 Sep 2022 11:20:09 PDT



September 4 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s,A25s, I04s, [I16s, I65s in Queen Charlotte Strait], T054s,T109s Not accounted for: I27s Humpbacks, Stitch, Lure, Merge,Cutter Pacific White-sided dolphins We must begin this dayÕs account with the humpbacks. First at 1:10am a humpback in Blackfish Sound found his voice for a few moments before drifting off into the far away. Second, we said good-bye the Kam today. Kam was a volunteer last year who discovered a passion for the humpbacks and took on the job of identifying and tracking individuals in Blackney Pass. She could only come for a short stay this year but she took up the task of keeping the data up-to-date once again. We wish her well with her upcoming studies. Third, even without Kam, four humpbacks were photographed and identified during the day, one of whom we had not seen before named ŅLureÓ. Fourth, another humpback bookended the day with a few well chosen calls. Autumn, the season the humpbacks begin exploration of their songs, must be edging closer! As far as the orcas went - some did! During what must have been a slow separation the I16s and the I65s headed away from the area via Queen Charlotte Strait. The large group of the day before had vacillated off the area adjacent to Weynton Pass during the previous evening as the separation began to unfold. Possibly all went through en masse and said their good-byes somewhere out to the west. The morning was wet and misty but despite this, Bigg's orcas were seen in Blackney Pass just after 9am. These would later be identified as the T054s and T109s. Suzie, who was taking Kam away (after our long good-byes) saw and photographed these Biggs as they passed close to Double Bay around 11am. Jared lent a hand in the identification. Jared also caught up with the I16s and I65s in Queen Charlotte Strait, leaving them near Hardy Bay around 3pm. Alex reported seeing groups moving past Donegal Head toward Weynton Pass just before 10am. At 10:18am distant calls were heard off Blackfish Sound and at 10:38am calls were recorded in Johnstone Strait. Good-byes done, the A30s, A5s and some of the I15s were now returning to the Strait via Weynton Pass. On a slow roll to the east the orcas fanned out across the Strait from side to side. The A23s and A25s favoured the Vancouver Island side while the A30s and I15s arranged their movements from mid strait to closer to the Hanson Island shore. Onward they advanced. The A25s were identified while off the Bauza Islets at 11:45am. Others were known to be already as far as Kaikash. On the other side the line of orcas had moved opposite Big Bay before crossing the entrance to Blackney Pass. Not interested in Blackney they carried on. A60 was identified opposite Kaikash at 11:55am. The rest of his group, the A23s, were ahead of him and approached Kaizumi at 12:05pm where they took turns rubbing until 12:15pm before continuing with their eastern intentions. The Cliff took note of the A50s passing closer to their side at 12:31pm and the A25s likewise at 12:44pm. From there the A50s must have angled toward the Reserve. Beginning at 1:03pm their calls and echolocation registered on the Critical Point hydrophone as they passed offshore. The rubbing beaches drew them on. The first rub (there would be a series of rubs over the course of the next several hours) began at 1:25pm with the A23s and what looked to be I04. Both A5 and I15 calls were heard to support this impression. The rub continued until 1:44pm with the whales involved moving on to the east where they found themselves going for another rub at Main at 1:47pm until 1:55pm. The A50s followed in the same pattern. Their rub at Strider went from 2:22pm until 2:49pm while their rub at Main overlapped from 2:40pm until 2:55pm. These rubs completed, the A23s returned to Strider at 2:55pm. Dolphins again showed up as they had done each day previously. Powerful and startling echolocation and huge vigorous water ŅsploushingÓ (as Shari dubbed it) happened at Main at 3:40pm for a couple of minutes. It sounded like one of the whales was chasing something - hopefully a salmon right into the shallows of the beach. During the A50Õs next Strider rub at 3:53pm A72 was seen participating this time. She was seen clearly going back west after the rub ended at 3:55pm. The A30s (presumably the A50s) were back off Robson Bight by 4:18pm. This is when things became more difficult to sort. With certain groups certainly advancing westward it became evident that others were still closer to Strider and Main. We know from a later report that the A50s were offshore of Kaizumi by 5:56pm and that the A23s had swung over closer to the Cracroft Island side passing Boat Bay around 7pm. This left the A54s and A25s to account for. Starting at 5:12pm there was definite echolocation at Strider which continued until 5:29pm. Then at 6:25pm there were both A5 and A30 calls in this region and just a few minutes later close A5 calls at Main. A brief passover occurred at Strider between 6:39pm and 6:41pm. One explanation was that the A54s and the A25s were only just arriving at the beaches. Their time there was as complicated as their predecessors and involved time at both beaches. In a bid to follow the others, the A54s turned west off Main where from 7:47pm to 7:49pm they made a passover on their way back to Strider. They touched in at Strider from 7:53pm to 7:55pm. Even though the light was fading fast the A54s were identified by 8:07pm off Strider on the remote camera. Everyone was on their way west with the other whales well on their way toward Cracroft Point by this point. By 8:05pm the A50s were closing in on Cracroft Point. Distant I15 and A5 calls proclaimed that at least the I4s (ie,I15 calls) and the A23s were not too far away either. Calls had become less frequent and varied but the remote camera remarkably even at 8:21pm was able to see the whales clearly moving west. In the next hour the groups elected to come into Blackney Pass and head north. No helpful cameras now, far too gloomy dark! Blows were first heard at 9:21pm. After a bit of confusion with sea lion blows it was confirmed that at least seven orca blows passed into Blackfish Sound by 10:09pm. There were unsurprisingly, given how spread out the groups had been all day, still calls in Johnstone Strait at this time. Four more blows were heard half way through the Pass with others just entering from the Strait at 10:56pm. I15 and A30 calls were heard in Blackfish Sound just before 11pm. More blows were heard from the trailing groups up until 11:15pm. Their calls in Blackfish lasted only for another 15 minutes after which we trust they continued west. It should perhaps be noted that the I27s were not, as far as we know, identified at any point during the day and that given that the I65s went off with the I16s it might be conjectured that they too may have done so as well. Therefore it may have been possible that only the I4s remained. Hopefully, someone may yet enlighten us! We started this summary by mentioning the humpbacks and as the summary was being written in the late evening a humpback was once again fittingly grumbling around loudly in the distant dark somewhere.

Orcalab
05 Sep 2022 07:54:04 PDT



September 3 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s,A23s, A25s, I04s, I16s,,I27s,I65s Humpbacks: Guardian,Merge, Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins The scene was set. The A5s (the A23s and A25s) had already accompanied the I16s (an I15 matriline) into Johnstone Strait vis Weynton Pass and had made it to Strider beach, where they rubbed for nine minutes, all by the time the A30s and the other I15 matrilines (the I04s, I27s and I65s) made it to Johnstone Strait via Blackney Pass and were heading east from Cracroft Point. There was the possibility that one of the A5 groups, (perhaps the A25s) held back slightly and were on hand when the A30s began to approach the Kaizumi area after midnight while the other A5 group (the A23s) was further east. Among the groups there was a lot of seeming excitement, noted by the numerous calls, at the possibility of coming together. This was the first visit this year by the I16s. The other three I15 matrilines had already made one visit earlier in the season and had been around for a few days by this time. Last year the I16s barely made an appearance. So nice that the entire group was together again. Making it to Critical Point in Robson Bight by 1:14am signalled that some of the A30s had progressed as far as the Ecological Reserve. A30s were soon at Strider beach for a rub of their own at 1:22am. It was a brief effort and they were soon passing Main beach to the east. The lagging A5 group mixed it up with some of the I15s and other A30s for another quick rub at 1:33am. Four minutes later they too were off Main beach. All the groups convened off of the beaches and there was a jumble of mixed calls and even yet another nine minute rub at Strider involving A30s, A5s and I15s, from 1:46am to 1:55am. A humpback in Blackfish Sound provided a brief interlude to the continuous orca calls around 3am. That was it for rubs and the flotilla of orcas moved on east of the Reserve. Calls became distant, faint and probably out of range for a time around 5:40am. More faint and distant calls resumed at 6:06am. They had obviously not gone far and because the entire group numbered forty-two individuals it was taking time to come together, organise and coordinate movement back to the west. Hints that they were successful came just before 8am when echolocation was heard at Strider. There were enough whales who chose to be on the Vancouver Island side that they were off both Main and Strider simultaneously. A rub actually started at Main at the same time as one at Strider at 8:39am. A technical glitch prevented us determining when the rub ended at Main but the one at Strider continued until 9:21am. There had been A30, I15 and A5 calls. A61 was clearly identified but no one from the A23s. Lots of dolphins skitted about while the orcas rubbed. The orcas along with the dolphins left to the west and were soon approaching Robson Bight not long after. Boat Bay would later tell us that some of the A50s (remember the A30s had been travelling in seperate groups) with the I16s were travelling west closer to the Cracroft Island side around 10:15am. We watched those closer to Vancouver Island pass Kaizumi from 10am onwards, acoustically A30s then A5s and finally I15s filed past. In wide formation, utilising the entire width of the Strait, from shore to shore, the orcas made their way towards Cracroft Point. By 10:30am they were arriving. They began to move toward the entrance of Blackney Pass as early as 10:38am. Others followed and by 10:50am the last group, the A23s, had made the turn into the entryway as well. After watching the various groups pass the Lab we finally settled on the following group order: the I16s, A50s, A54s, I04s, A25s, I65s, I27s and finally the A23s. They had all cleared by 11:30am but not before A126 (A69Õs baby) breached several times mid channel, and other individuals hesitated and milled briefly before carrying on to Blackfish Sound. Increasingly faint calls lasted until just after 1pm. The whales carried on to Queen Charlotte Strait. At 5:45pm very faint and indistinct ŅAÓcalls were heard once again in Johnstone Strait. The faintest echolocation was then heard at 6:51pm. A report of twenty plus orcas off Telegraph Cove was relayed at 7:30pm and finally at 9:01pm distinct A5 calls were heard on the Cracroft Point hydrophone for about a half hour. At 10:43pm I15 calls were heard for a few minutes in the distance in Blackfish Sound. What a fizzle of an ending to the day! Nothing much to hang our hats on just vague indications.The fresh southeast wind had morphed itself into rain, change was literally in the air.

OrcaLab
04 Sep 2022 09:37:48 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Sept 2 2022 Orcas: A50s,A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s, I16s, I27s, I65s Humpbacks: Merge, Quartz, Inukshuk All groups milled around the eastern reaches of our network in the early hours of the morning. A brief rub was had at Strider beach at 12:25am, while the I15s sounded off Main beach (but no rub). The A30s, I15s and A5s all eventually began to move back to the west, beginning to call at Cracroft Point at 4:26am. The A30s with the I15s were in the lead, as the A23s and A25s followed, lagging somewhat. At 4:53am we heard a humpback warming up a little in Blackfish Sound - a hint of the acoustics that we can expect from the fall! We began hearing blows in Blackney Pass after 5am, as the A30s and I15s travelled through, audible on Flower Island at 5:24am. The groups were mixed and distanced from one another, taking over an hour and a half to complete the procession into Blackfish Sound. The A23s and A25s, meanwhile, would not come through Blackney. Instead, the A23s travelled west along the Vancouver Island shore, coming in to rub at Kaizumi beach from 7:15am to 7:32am. The A25s stayed closer to Cracroft Island, heading west also. Megan and Shari could see the hooked dorsal of A61 ‘Surge’ pass by them in the early light around 8am. Interestingly, we heard a few distinct A30 calls with the A5s in the Strait. Given the reports we received later in the day, it is possible that the A72s - Bend and Jamieson - were actually traveling with the A23s and A25s instead of with the rest of their immediate family. By 10:30am, the larger group of A30s and I15s were out of our range to the west, as the A23s, A25s and possible A72s paced the western reaches of Johnstone Strait between Beaver Cove and Weynton Passage. Eventually, they made a move north through Weynton and continued into Queen Charlotte Strait. At 2:03pm, we received a report that the A72s were with the A5 groups, but an hour later, the A72s had turned back towards Blackfish Sound, and the A5s continued out to the west. Around this time, the rest of the A30s and I15s were heading back south through Weynton Passage and into the Strait. Round and round they go! We began to hear the A30 and I15 groups at 4:36pm, and followed their movements eastwards, reaching Cracroft Point by 5:05pm. They were quite dispersed from shore to shore. Here, the day gets really exciting! We received a report that Troy at Bere Point on Malcolm Island had seen the I16s traveling east towards us at 5:13pm. This matriline completes the ‘set’ of the I15 groups; we have not yet seen them in our study area this year. And so we wait! The A30s, I4s, I27s and I65s didn’t dawdle at Cracroft Point for too long, the first whales making a move towards Blackney Pass at 6pm. By 6:20pm we could see the first blows, and we waited for the orcas to get in line with the Parson Bay Area for our ‘best view’ of their dorsals! Most of the A50s with the I65s came first, spread from the middle of the channel over to the further shore. Next, the A72s with the I4s and A54s who were also quite scattered. The I27s came last, slightly separate from one another but never wandering too far away from mum. The last fins dipped out of sight into Blackfish Sound at 7:31pm. During this passing, we received a report of ten or so orcas passing Donegal Head and south into Weynton Passage at 6:59pm… The A5s? The I16s? We waited for some acoustic clues. At 8:23pm, we heard A5 calls at the western end of the Strait and then around 8:45pm - I15 calls! We were fairly convinced that these belonged to the I16s, who had been ‘picked up’ by the A23s and A25s somewhere in Queen Charlotte Sound. Perhaps sensing that a meeting was imminent, or sticking to some predefined ‘see you at the Rubbing Beaches’ agreement: The A50s, A54s, I4s, I27s and I65s turned. Back to Blackney they came. For almost two hours the groups came through the pass in droves, and headed into Johnstone Strait. From around 9:30pm to 11:30pm we counted their blows and listened to their calls, as they passed us to the south. Meanwhile, the A23s and A25s with the I16s in tow headed directly to Strider beach and began to rub at 11:20pm. The wardens at Boat Bay heard blows passing east at 10:47pm, so it is possible that not all members went in for the rub. The A30 and I15 groups who had traversed Blackney reached Cracroft Point in dribs and drabs, and headed east to join the new recruits. Some stayed closer to the Cracroft shore, others crossed to Vancouver Island. The last three passed Megan and Shari at CP just before midnight, and the darkness was ablaze with the sounds of 42 orcas calling to one another under a blanket of stars.

Suzie, OL
03 Sep 2022 14:01:58 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Sept 1 2022 Orcas: A50s,A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s,I27s, I65s Humpbacks: Squiggle, Guardian, Quartz It is quite remarkable that we can still trace the movements of orca families into the night, after darkness has fallen. Their habits - somewhat predictable - and unique acoustic profiles continue to paint a picture on the night’s black canvas. After moving back into the Strait, most of the families continued to the east. Their distant, tinny calls off the eastern beaches suggested that no rubbing was to be had, but they were nevertheless entertaining themselves more offshore. Here they stayed for most of the night. Our intrigue was piqued when, at 7am, we began to hear A30 calls (likely A50s) around Cracroft Point, and some A5 calls shortly after. Some groups had hung back to the west, not reaching the eastern end. Tomoko - long time OrcaLab assistant and listening from Japan - remarked that these A5 calls did not sound like the A23s, whom we have had in the area for several days. Her bet was on the A25s. Sure enough, at 7:52am, we heard closer A5 calls on Kaizumi and an 8-minute rub began. We caught a glimpse of the very top of a male dorsal: left bending, just like A61 “Surge”. Tomoko’s guess was a good one! These orcas tracked east along the Vancouver Island shore to Critical Point in Robson Bight at 9:10am, as the A50s mirrored their move more mid-channel/Cracroft Island side. Silently, the A25s made their way down to Strider beach by 10am. This rub was quite possibly one of the most beautiful rubs we have ever seen. Now, A61 “Surge”, A85 “Cordero” and A121 “Twilight” were clearly visible. The low tide, mirror-calm water and brilliant sunshine made the beaches as clear as a glacial pool, and we saw incredible footage of A61 in particular. It is quite the thing to see a huge male orca clearly beneath the glassy surface, rolling on his sides and back, waving those huge pectoral fins. The rub lasted for less than 10 minutes, but will stay with us for a lifetime. The A25s moved briefly to the east, just as we received the report that the wardens could see lots of whales moving west towards them. The rest were on their way back! In droves, the A30, A5 and I15 groups came by. Some A30s did a brief fly-by of Strider at 10:28am, as the I27s came in to rub properly at 10:38am. We could clearly ID I27, I77 and I107 with some more spectacularly clear footage. The rest of the I15s and A25s joined in too, and the beaches looked a little like orca soup for a while. All headed on to the west, with the A30s passing Critical Point at 11:15am, the others not far behind. As we’ve come to expect, the A23s hung back for a while, letting the others move on before coming to rub briefly at Strider at 11:51am. They too, followed suit and off to the west. Now very spread out, the leading A30 and I15 groups were already approaching Kaizumi and came for another quick rub at 12:15pm, then 12:33pm, before beginning their crossing to Cracroft Point. Megan and Shari on the CP platform could see the I27s, A50s and A54s at around 12:35pm. These groups would wait a little while, foraging in the rip, as the other groups caught up. By 1:10pm, these first whales had made a move towards Blackney Pass, and the I65s and A25s were reported to have begun the crossing from Kaizumi to Cracroft Point. True to form, the A23s shadowed the others’ movements, passing Izumi Rock towards Kaizumi at 1:19pm. The Blackney Parade began at 1:16pm, as members of the A50s, A54s and I27s came into view. They were fairly far-side and moving quickly in the choppy, ebbing current. Spreading out, the I4s, I65s and A25s came next. Just as these first groups were all clearing from our view into Blackfish Sound, the A23s finally made it, shadowing the movements of their distant cousins. They started off quite mid-channel, but the turning tide was beginning to push against them. Bunched up and diving deep, the A23s came closer and closer to the Hanson shore, riding the back-eddy into Blackfish Sound. It was one of the best looks at this matriline we have had all year. A60 ‘Fife’ is always a peoples’ favourite, and each whale in his family has some distinct feature! The groups stayed in Blackfish for a good while, scattered from shore to shore. We received reports that they were foraging, milling, and resting for a good few hours. Eventually, they turned back towards us and politely timed their arrival before we sat down for dinner, passing the lab again in almost exactly reverse order at 6:36pm. The A23s were first, followed by the I15 groups and A25s - all dispersed across Blackney - with the A50s and A54s coming last right down the middle. For the first time this summer, the I65s came closest to the lab in a tight group and hugged the Hanson shore into the entrance of Johnstone Strait. It was lovely to get a good look at the growing fin of I122, and at their 2-year-old baby, I165. By 7:16pm the leading groups had passed Cracroft Point and were angling back to the east, and the rest followed suit. As the whales approached CP, it seems they had shuffled around, and the girls saw A72 (Bend) with A108 (Jamieson) intermingled with the A25s and members of the I15s. They all continued east, some crossing to Vancouver Island, others remaining closer to the Cracroft shore. We traced their mixed calls to Robson Bight, where they foraged as they travelled, the first I15s arriving at Strider at 10:22pm for a ten-minute rub. The calls were mixed and clear, telling us that At least some variation of A30s, A5s and I15s were rubbing together! Shortly before, the wardens at boat bay reported a group of orcas travelling east past their camp, under the stars. With 35 whales in the area, not all can fit in for a rub! The I15s moved on east, leaving room for some A30s to rub at Strider at 10:45pm, for another 10-minute session. The A5s did not seem to rub, continuing straight on to the east and foraging loudly around Main beach from 11pm. One more pass of Strider was to be had at 11:30pm, before the rubs for the day were done. Their intermingled calls persisted into the night as, once again, the Northern Residents hugged the eastern stretch of our range in Johnstone Strait well into the early hours.

Suzie, OL
02 Sep 2022 11:51:05 PDT



August 31 2022 Orcas: A50s,A54s, A23s,I04s,I27s,I65s.BiggÕs heard Humpbacks: Squiggle, Guardian, É So while the Northern Resident groups, the A5s,A1s and the three I15 matrilines occupied Johnstone Strait from west Robson Bight to east of the Ecological Reserve, the still vocal BiggÕs orcas still calling at 12:25am disappeared somewhere to the west. It is very rare to have both Northern Residents and BiggÕs orcas vocal within range of each other so this event here was an occasion to note. Over the next four hours the resident orca calls waxed and waned, sometimes close, sometimes distant depending on their proximity to any one particular hydrophone. They never came west enough to be heard on the Cracroft Point system but favoured the area nearer or in the Ecological Reserve. This aimlessness changed just before 5am when individuals from one of the A groups struck the beach at Strider starting at 4:58am. Their effort lasted until 5:06am. The next thing we were dealing with were calls further Ņup the lineÓ at Critical Point. The whales were on the move!. Everywhere was covered in dense fog, such a contrast to the day before which had started and ended sunny and clear. Our ears had to become our eyes. Activity around and near Critical Point in Robson Bight lasted until 6:25am. We could tell that the orcas were generously spread to mid strait and distributed over a wide area from Strider to Kaizumi beach. Cracroft Point was picking up calls by 6:31am from the whales out in the middle. Fortunately, a few of the I15s came into Kaizumi beach (we could see this on the remote camera) and began a rub that lasted from 7:07am until 7:21am. One small individual indulged in a rub by herself after the first four had moved along. Of a like mind, A60 and others rubbed at Strider from 7:26am until 7:42am. Eight to nine whales (in the fog) were, by this time, already passing Cracroft Point. Four more blows could be heard further out. It really was quite the spread with the families in combinations with each other. The journey into Blackney Pass began at 7:49am with members of the A30s and the I15s. The Lab, like CP, could not see anything, at least at first. The tall fin of I77 and the growing fin of I07 were identified with a few other orcas passing not very far off shore of the Lab at 8:14am. None of the accompanying A30s were identified visually by the time these whales cleared into Blackfish Sound a few minutes later. Another combined A30 and I15 group, who were further away,also cleared into Blackfish Sound at 8:30am. I15 and A30 calls in Blackfish Sound naturally followed. Surprisingly, but perhaps not surprisingly given how spread out groups had been earlier, there was a third A30/I15 group that came along out of the Strait. Obviously, this group had to first cross from Vancouver island over to Cracroft Point. They did this between 9am and 10am. They were well into Blackney Pass before we started to hear their blows at 10:16am. It was not a huge group and they were through by 10:30am. The orcas in whatever preferred combinations they had going all ended up in Queen Charlotte Strait. At 11:18am they were off the Penfold Islands. It was encouraging to hear that they were heading back east though it would be more than two hours before they came into range of the Flower Island hydrophone again. *The A23s, who we had not been able to track properly earlier, were the first. A30 calls followed and eventually those of the I15s too. Seemed like everyone was still holding together. It was well into the afternoon by now and the fog had finally burned off. We could see that it was another beautiful day. Again the whales were very widely spread. While a few were foraging off of the Plumpber Island at 3pm other whales were already filing through Blackney Pass. A60 came in first followed by the rest of his family the A54s accompanying the I04s, I65s and I27s and finally the A50s. They had all cleared by 3:48pm and on their way in these formations toward Johnstone Strait. Some of the A30s managed to move over quickly to the Vancouver Island shore and into Kaizumi beach by 4:19pm for a six minute rub. Although they did not follow suit and go for a rub some of the I15s came in close as well around 4:30pm. However, yet other groups elected to stay and forage off of Cracroft Point. A lot of back and forth ensued and once again the orcas were to be found across a wide area. More went towards the east, but no one seemingly too far. The A23s got close to Kaizumi at 5:57pm, while others returned to this area at 6pm along with dolphins as part of what would become a western trend back to the Cracroft area. This restless movement went on until 6:30pm when the orca families began to coalesce and once more head north into Blackney Pass. How they were now arranged gave us some insight into how they might have been earlier when they passed in the morning fog. The I65s passed first, the A50s behind them, then the I27s, the A23s, the I4s and finally the A54s. Except for the I27s most of the whales, with a few other exceptions, carried on to the north. The I27s moved much closer to Hanson Island before leaving the Pass. It was actually a lovely passing. The A23s were all together close with the I4s and like the I27s not far from the Hanson Island side. The beautiful evening light enhanced everything. The whales spent until 9pm in Blackfish Sound. After which they went back to Johnstone Strait via Weynton Pass. The first group, the A5s, arrived at 9:29pm. From then onwards the others, the A30s and the I15s, followed, their calls gradually getting stronger as they moved east. They were all very vocal. All indications suggested that a busy night was about to unfold.

OrcaLab
01 Sep 2022 11:18:49 PDT



Distant calls audible.

August 30 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s, I4s, I27s, I65s, Biggs (heard) Humpbacks: Stitch, Quartz We’ll dive right in where we left off: A30s and A23s in Johnstone Strait. They remained here for the majority of the night and early hours of the morning, audibly every so often faintly towards the eastern end. At 6:30am, as the sun was coming up for what proved to be a spectacularly sunny day, we heard calls that we hadn’t had for a while: The I15s! The difference between A and G clan is really quite stark, and all who were listening could easily tell them apart. The I4s, I27s and I65s had returned, likely taking Weynton Passage and slipping into the Strait to join the other groups. By 8am, Megan and Shari at Cracroft Point could see distant blows and orcas heading east. The ‘A whales’ to the east began to peel back to join these new groups, and some of the A30s came in for a brief rub at 8:18am before continuing west. One more whale would rub at 9:39am, before continuing west after the others. The I15s, meanwhile, had made it to Robson Bight, and we heard their faint calls echoing around. What’s interesting here is the shift in the dynamic between the A23s and the rest of the groups. They have been fairly glued to the A54s over the past week, but today they remained largely solitary and silent. As the others met up in the Ecological Reserve, they tracked west in Johnstone Strait. We could see A60’s large fin passing Cracroft Point around 10:56am, while the rest stayed closer to Vancouver Island. They passed Telegraph Cove and into Weynton Passage, before stalling at Bold Head for most of the afternoon. Back in the Strait, The A30s and I15 groups were getting organised. The A50s and I27s were visible from the cliff at 10:10am, slowly easting for a while. All eventually turned and made a move back to the west, passing the Sophia’s shortly before midday. As they tracked west, we saw lots of breaches and tailslaps and beautiful spyhops, as they made their way to Blackney Pass. Some of the I15s passed very close to Cracroft Point, and we heard their beautiful ‘squawky’ calls very clearly! They were eager for Blackney and made haste. The A54s were first, entering our view at 1:08pm. They were fairly spread out, but the mom & baby pairs of A54s and A86s were clearly visible. The I15 groups were next - mixed up and spread out with some of the A54s. I122 and I107 were seen together, as I76 travelled largely alone. The A50s brought the end of the parade, alongside I27 and her son I77. They were in quite a tight group and passed close to the lab. They were out of our sight and into Blackfish Sound by 2pm, where they stayed for the remainder of the afternoon. A smattering of reports told us that all groups were fairly spread out for a few hours, not travelling too far, as the A23s continued to forage off Bold Head, before they eventually passed back through Weynton Passage and into the Strait. Just as they had passed us to the North, the A30 and I15 groups prepared to travel back south in a very similar pattern, visible once again in our view at 6:30pm. The A54s lead the procession, mixed with some of the I15s. I107 and I122 were together again, and the A50s with I27 and I77 followed last, close to the lab! How interesting, all of these social dynamics. It was a beautiful passing in the glowing sunset light. Just as we were feeling confident as to the orcas’ movements, we received a report from the wardens at Boat Bay of a group of 6-7 orcas heading west at Swaine Point! Hmm. Bigg’s? We hoped that clarity would come sooner rather than later… The A30s and I15 groups passed Cracroft Point and into the Strait, all heading east. The A54s crossed to the Vancouver Island side for a brief swim-by rub at Kaizumi around 8pm. Just one mother and baby were seen. All tracked east in a few separate groups, as the A23s slowly followed - keeping their distance - visible off Telegraph Cove at 8:45pm. A forage in Robson Bight was in order, with mixed A30s and I15s audible on our Critical Point hydrophone around 9pm. They slowly headed east, A30s sounding a little more offshore, as some of the I15s headed for a brief rub on Main beach at 10:09pm. At one point, we heard the I15s rubbing, A30s offshore and Bigg’s calls in the distance! A-ha! The group off Swaine Point must have been Bigg’s afterall, now westing up Johnstone Strait. Phew, mystery solved. All Northern Residents moved to the east, the A30 and I15 calls audible and mixed off the eastern beaches as the day drew to a close. The A23s remained silent, and midnight arrived with a fantastic bout of Bigg’s calls close on Kaizumi. The two ecotypes had mirrored each others’ movements: Northern Residents easting closer to the Vancouver Island shore, while the Bigg’s wested along Cracroft, crossing to Kaizumi only when the coast was clear. The lives of these whales never cease to intrigue us!

Suzie, OL
31 Aug 2022 14:10:24 PDT



August 29 2022 Orcas:A50s, A54s,A23s , T109s(?) Humpbacks: Black Pearl & Kraken, Stitch, Squiggle, Quartz, possibly Hunter Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dallas Porpoise Sea Lions hauled out Waking out to the Lab in the evening greeted by the low growls of the Sea Lions hauled out on the rocks by Parson Island Light. A strangely comforting sound, the sound of the Fall and Winter to come. Every year for over the past two decades Sea Lions have decided to make a winter haul out on rocks nearby. In recent years sea lions returning from their summer rookery further north have chosen as their first landing spot the rocks by the Light. Later they will move to the rocks just south of the Lab on Hanson Island where there is more capacity. Today there were about a dozen by the Light, quite crowded already. These rocks also become swamped at high tide. When this happens the sea lions abandon their place and return to the water to feed. As the water level recedes they clammer up and claim a position once again. Very often they do this before the rocks are fully exposed, leaving them Buddha like half in, half out. Though it means nights are never quiet their presence is reassuring that ocean life in this area at least is resilient and healthy. In a sense the sea lions have become our Ņwall paperÓ - always there in the background. Midnight was greeted by ongoing distant echolocation and a few calls in Blackfish Sound. Two different things were at play. The whales the previous evening had gone through to Blackfish Sound and left us wondering what they would do next. In the end they did a combination of possibilities. They split up with the A54s and A23s returning to Johnstone Strait and going east from Cracroft Point from 1:04am on, and the A50s remaining in Blackfish Sound before leaving to the west. The A50s were lost to us but the others (at least the A54s) kept us informed as to their progress. KamÕs attention was briefly drawn to the almost singing humpback in Blackfish Sound just before 1am. The ŅsongÓ lasted only two minutes. It took the A54s (and presumably the A23s) until 3:30am to be broadside of Robson Bight. A short while later they were approaching the Strider area. The A23s were very quiet partners in these movements, perhaps hiding behind some of the generic resting calls. The rub at 4:39am had some lovely ŅchuffsÓ as the whales hit the pebbles but it entailed few clues about who was participating. It was a decent 6 minute rub. The orcas left the beaches behind and continued east beyond the boundary of the Ecological Reserve. They stayed out of range until mid afternoon. Meanwhile, Donna Mackay relayed a report at 8:52am from the pilot boat that a large group of orcas was at Duval Point heading west. As far as we know no one identified these whales. We also learned that a group of five orcas passed to the east of Bere Point at 1:15pm. Troy later identified them as the T109s. Our morning had also been preoccupied by saying good-bye to PaulÕs granddaughter Hannah and her two children, Indi and Zephyr after an almost week long visit. The weather (the pending southeaster had not yet materialised) was pretty good and they got to Alert Bay in time to take a refreshing bath & wash clothes before beginning their next adventure on Cortez Island with friends. In the afternoon, with calls registering on Main beach hydrophone at first we soon located the distant westbound orcas on the remote Strider cam. The southeaster was really kicking up here and the whales were difficult to spot. But then they came into Strider beach for a rub at 2:28pm. Not everyone came in. Whales could be seen travelling west offshore. The rub ended at 2:39pm with the whales that had been involved moving away to the west. The A23s were not as shy about vocalising as they had been in the night. As they neared Robson Bight before 3pm they were quite chatty. Coincidently, this is when we learned that the A50s were off the Egeria Shoals (offshore of the western end of Swanson Island) in Blackfish Sound. Where had they come from? Were they involved with the mysterious group off Duval Point or had they been on their own somewhere in Queen Charlotte Strait throughout the night? The Cliff at 3:24pm told us that the whales in Johnstone Strait had found some time to forage deep in Robson Bight near the Tsitika River Estuary. The A50s were likewise located around this time north of Donegal Head. Over the next couple of hours the A23s and A54s managed to pass by Kaizumi Beach and keep going west while quite spread out from offshore of Vancouver Island to the middle of the Strait. Eventually they shifted closer to Cracroft Point where they were pulled into the rip west of Cracroft Point. One more adjustment brought them further into the entrance to Blackney Pass around 5:30pm. By this time the A50s had decided to head toward Weynton Pass via the blow-hole perhaps in a bid to avoid the effects of any strong currents in the main channel even though they still had the current in their favour for a while longer. The A23s and A54s were not as fortunate in their decision. They came into Blackney against the last of the flooding tide. Perhaps it had already begun to subside but whatever the case they did not seem daunted and moved fairly efficiently through to Blackfish Sound. The scattered A54s were first followed by the A23s who maintained the semblance of family cohesion mid channel. By 6:15pm they had all cleared from our view. The current was due to change at 6:35pm. From the time they entered Blackfish Sound the A23s and A54s foraged, milled, and changed direction. They did not go far. By 7:48pm they were back in our view, and yes, going against the current once again. This time it did slow them down but the calls of the A50s, now fully in Johnstone Strait, must have urged them onwards. The effect of the sunset on the clouds and water was very pleasing as was the warm southeast breeze as the A23s and A54s departed our view at 8:27pm. We heard a few calls up to 8:47pm. Afterwards there was a break until 9:32pm when very distant calls were heard once more. By 10pm the calls had grown louder as the whales, still bucking the tide, began to approach the area off Strider and Main beaches in the Ecological Reserve. Makes one wonder what they will do when the tide turns to flood around 1am - where will they be by then? Before the day was done there were hints that something else was perhaps about to unfold. Kate had been told that as the sun was setting orcas passed Bere Point. Then, with Kate back at camp, a large group travelling west passed Bere Point. Was this the same mysterious large group who had been at Duval Point in the morning? Again what would be the influence of the upcoming flooding tide. Would it bring company for those whales already in Johnstone Strait. So much afoot!

OrcaLab
30 Aug 2022 08:06:32 PDT



August 28 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s,A23s, (T38A, Humpbacks:Claw and baby, Black Pearl and Kraked,Stitch, Quartz,Argonaut, Guardian, Cutter, maybe Doppelganger After returning to Johnstone Strait the orca families went east toward the Ecological Reserve. By midnight they were close to Strider and Main beaches. They did not rub but kept going east past the Reserve. Calls became mostly distant except for a few closer calls on the Main beach hydrophone around 2am. After that, calls once more became distant. We would not understand their movements again until two later daytime reports. At 9:25am Spirit of the West camp at Boat Bay saw 6-7 orcas. On the other side near Naka Creek Patrick Donnelly saw approximately 15, including A60, pass by. All these whales were heading west. Acoustically we heard calls at Critical Point (Robson Bight) at 10:06am. We thought it was probably the A54s. A60 was found at 10:19am off Strider beach. Again there was no stopping for a rub. They had the ebb flow with them but it was going to change at 11:35am so no time to waste, they were bound and determined for Blackney Pass and they had a ways yet to go. They reached Kaizumi beach just after the current changed. There was a lot of chatter but again no rub. A84 came in closest to the beach but he duly followed the others who looked as if they might now cross over to the other side. Shari, Karien and Megan (Momoko had gone back to the Lab) soon took note of A60 travelling and foraging mid strait just past Cracroft Point. Before 12:30pm the whales came together opposite Cracroft Point, took a long dive and made a try for Blackney Pass. The A54s were in the lead. The A23s and the A50s formed a single group behind. They managed to get through the entrance despite the opposing 4.4 knot current. A few even came into view of the Lab. By then the whales must have realised the daunting task of having to swim really hard if they wanted to continue. Collectively they made the decision to quit and go with the flow back to Johnstone Strait and back eastward once there. It is not often orcas get their timing or capabilities so wrong! At least it gave them an excuse to retrace their steps and enjoy some rubs while they waited out the prevailing currents. Perhaps tired from their earlier excursions they rested up first and then made for Strider by 4:29pm. The rub was not a long one. For us a technical glitch prevented us from watching or listening to a lot of the Strider rub. Fortunately the whales had stretched along further east to Main beach as well. Although there wasn’t a rub at Main we could still hear close calls. The technical issue was resolved in time to see the whales at 4:48pm move away to the west. Their timing was now much better. The current would change at 6:13pm to an ebb. They had only a little more time to go before they would be carried along on a 4.3 knot stream in the desired direction. Slowly at first, marking time, they were only opposite Boat Bay (which is across from the rubbing beaches on West Cracroft island) by 6pm. Their movement caught the attention of the Boat Bay camp who noted the passing orcas at 6:26pm. They were mid strait while others were closer to the Vancouver island side off the western boundary of the Reserve. Another half hour brought them near to the Sophia Islands. By 8pm they were approaching Cracroft Point. The light was going but we soon knew for certain where the whales were going too. They entered the entranceway to Blackney Pass at 8:13pm. Passage was much easier this time and they were soon going north. The strong ebb carried them to Blackfish in about a half hour. They were pretty quiet, no need to chatter, everyone knew where they were going. From 8:44pm to 8:52pm the groups filed into Blackfish Sound. After some whistles and a few calls a more lively discussion opened up when nearer the western end of Blackfish Sound. What were they deciding? Would they risk going against the current again and head into Weynton, would they wait, or would they opt for the easier path to Queen Charlotte Strait? After 10:23pm the distant calls, which had become sporadic, subsided. Interesting day with the humpbacks in Blackney Pass. The two mum and baby pairs were here. Black Pearl’s baby has already been named “Kraken” while Claw’s baby will be given a “ nickname” this coming Wednesday. The Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), who are responsible for the Humpback Whale ID catalogue, will make the announcement. Visit : https://www.mersociety.org. Last year Kam, who is again a volunteer with OrcaLab, got to name Ripple’s baby “Dapple” because she was the first to see the baby. It is heartwarming that some of the very familiar humpbacks return with their babies. More than often those babies will themselves later return to the area as well once independent of their mothers.

Orcalab
29 Aug 2022 10:13:21 PDT



August 27 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s,A23s Humpbacks: Claw and baby, Guardian,Stitch, Quartz, Argonaut and one unidentified Pacific White-sided dolphins DallÕs Porpoise Sea Lions hauled out on Parson Island Light Rock Whoever it was (at least one of the A30 groups) who went into Johnstone Strait before midnight had long gone quiet. In fact, except for the occasional humpback sounds, the night was uneventful except for the strong winds still blowing from the northwest and the noisy waves whipped up as a result. Then before 5:30am faint echolocation revealed that the scene had shifted from Johnstone Strait to Blackfish Sound. The morning, for once, was not shrouded in fog. In fact the rising morning sun was shining across from the Lab. The wind was still blowing but it was a welcomed warm wind. For those left at the Lab, and not at Boat Bay, the sight and feel of the sunny skies was like a balm after a long night. Just as the scheduled 9am scan (these are done regularly through the day) was about to begin, a blow and a disappearing fin were heard and seen just to the left of the Lab. A cluster of fins close to Burnt Point followed as did a hurried shout of ŅORCA!Ó which brought back the sleepy Karien and Kam who had just snuck away to get some much needed rest. Tiredness disappeared quickly. Energised by the beautiful sight of the passing orcas we managed to do the scan, start a recording, organise the cameras, all the while appreciating the special moment. The unhurried orcas mosied their way along the Hanson shoreline until disappearing from view around GabÕs Rock. They took forever to reach Johnstone Strait and when they did they turned west, the direction of the current. That must have made things easier and it gave them time to make a large circle around and over to the Vancouver Island side by the time the current changed to flood at 11:03am. By 11:54am they were opposite Kaiakash Creek heading east. This direction took them eventually to Kaizumi beach where a short rub by a few individuals happened between 12:49pm and 12:55pm. They and the others offshore continued east. They arrived off Robson Bight by 2pm. Their echolocation near the eastern headland declared their intention of carrying on through the rest of the Ecological Reserve to the rubbing beaches. The inevitable rub began at 2:50pm and ended at 3:32pm and involved the A50s mainly and a handful of dolphins who skirted about the orcas. The rub ended as the orcas pulled away to the west. In retracing their steps westward the groups arrived back at Robson Bight just before 4pm. Their journey west would take them all the way to Weynton Pass. Before getting there members of the A23s and the A50s passed closer to Cracroft Island from 5pm on. Jared Towers happened to stop at CP to chat with Megan, Shari and Momoko just when the whales passed. After and before 6pm the A23s and A50s crossed the entrance to Blackney and were headed to Big Bay. The A54s were not immediately accounted for but by the time they reached the entrance to Weynton around 7pm Scotty was reporting all three groups were there. After being northbound through Weynton Pass they came out into Blackfish Sound at 7:29pm. Freddy had a hard look around and finally found some blurry fins off the top end of Blackfish Sound crossing toward Hanson Island. A further report at 7:50pm from Scotty that the whales were eastbound opposite Double Bay helped with the search. Sure enough we found the whales on the Flower Island remote camera. They were moving without hesitation despite the large cruise ship which passed close by. This time the eventual cry of ŅORCA!Ó unfortunately came as the light was fading fast. We listened to their calls and their blows and before 9pm came to the conclusion that they had turned around back to Blackfish Sound. As they did so the composition of their calls changed, incorporating calls more closely associated with the A24s/A73s - so what was up? Company coming? There were a lot of bangs as well, someone was jumping and slapping out there in the dark. After 9pm there was another change. The groups made another bid for Blackney and were successful this time about getting further into the Pass. Local Centre finally picked up their calls although the majority of calls stayed on the Flower Island system a while longer. By 9:10pm blows were heard off White Beach Pass. The calls on Local Centre were rather distant, the calls on Flower Island were distant as well. By 9:12pm multiple groups were entering the Pass. As they did so they became excited once more. Calls on Flower ceased and calls on Parson Island started to become evident. Progress was very slow. Once again the current was against them, once again there were calls on the Flower Island system. By 9:47pm orca blows were heard beginning to exit Blackney Pass. Other groups were still filing through after 10pm. Shari, Megan and Momoko were waiting and listening at CP. They heard the first groups emerge just after 10pm. By 10:23pm a Ņwhole bunchÓ were heading east followed a few minutes later by another group. The count was up to 18 by now. There were still whales at the far end of Blackney. But they too made it through and everyone went east, spread out but together, ŅdownÓ the Strait.

OrcaLab
28 Aug 2022 08:33:27 PDT



August 26 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s, T011A Humpbacks: Claw and baby, Stitch, Guardian, Ridge, Squiggle, Inukshuk, Quartz, Tag, Domino Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dallas Porpoise Sea Lions hauled out on Parson Light Rocks The A50s are good at dropping few hints, keeping us guessing as to what they might be doing and where. A test of sorts for us. Some nights it feels like we are connecting disjointed dots in our attempts to try to understand the movement of these orcas. Not compelled to always vocalise, they are adept at finding their way through the waterways of this area and the rest of the coast as well with remarkable ease. Just imagine!. The early hours of this day offered little. We had been thinking that the A50s were westbound at the end of the previous day. But then the boat noise grew intense and the calls dropped off. At 1am there were a few calls and some echolocation off Cracroft Point followed by whistles and more echololation off the entrance to Blackney Pass. This lasted until 2:18am. This echolocation was the only indication that the A50s might have turned into Blackney Pass and headed northwest to Blackfish Sound. This impression was backed up later in the morning from a report of the A50s off Egeria Shoals heading to Bold Head at 8:45am. Our attention had already been peaked by a report from the Cliff that T011A, a Bigg’s orca, had been identified and was headed toward Cracroft Point. At 9:31am T011A, also known as Rainy, was approaching the CP camp very close to the Cracroft Island shore. He was in our view ten minutes later. He smartly moved along silently until he reached White beach Pass where he turned momentarily before carrying on and clearing the Pass just after 10am. The A50s were clearly eastbound in Blackfish Sound at the same time. At some point they must have passed Rainy who was seen travelling west near to both humpbacks and Pacific White-sided dolphins. Interesting company for a Bigg’s oreca!. A humpback, perhaps one of the two nearby Rainy, gave a brief sound. Rainy wasted no time getting into Queen Charlotte Strait where he was seen headed toward Lizard Point Before the A50s made it to Blackney Pass another report from the day before confirmed our suspicion that the A23s and the A54s had gone east. They had been found in Nodales Channel, a favourite haunt off the eastern end of Johnstone Strait. Just before noon the A50s came into view. They were favouring mid channel and moving all together in a relaxed but steady way until they cleared out of sight at 12:12pm. Five minutes later they were in Johnstone Strait. The strong northwest wind was blowing as hard there as it had been in Blackfish Sound. The strong winds promised by multiple forecasts finally materialised. Pretty dramatic especially combined with the strong currents usually happening in the entrance of Blackney Pass. Not a worry for the orcas but these conditions had almost dire consequences later in the day. The current as the A50s turned east was flooding at a maximum rate of 4.2 knots. While the A50s had current and wind to encourage them, the A23s and A54s, on their way back to the eastern end of the Ecological Reserve must have had a much harder time. Just before 1pm we began to hear their calls as they slowly approached Main Rubbing beach. As their calls got stronger and stronger as they got closer and closer to Main the A50s had achieved Kaizumi beach to the west of them. They must have sensed just how close they were to coming back together because at 1:08pm the A23s, in particular, burst into excited calls. The A54s followed suit a short while later. The remote camera at Strider caught sight of west bound whales off shore of Strider. And still there were excited calls at Main indicating how spread the groups were. At 1:22pm a rub started at both Main and Strider at the same time! A60, Fife, was identified in the waves at Strider. The rub at Main ended at 1:30pm and a minute later so did the one at Strider. Everybody went west pushing through the northwest swells in the direction of Robson Bight They reached Critical Point (Robson Bight) at 1:50pm. From there they moved to Kaizumi beach where at 2:57pm a few made a brief rub. By 3pm orcas were arriving off Cracroft Point. Quite the journey, especially for the A23s and A54s. They would not get help from the currents until 5:30pm when an almost equally strong ebb would begin. Despite this the groups carried on to the west, perhaps wisely avoiding the still flooding current coming out from Blackney Pass. By the time they reached Weynton, probably sometime after 5pm, they were better positioned to eventually take advantage of the favourable currents into Weynton Pass. But it was still over three hours before we heard the orcas on the “other side” in Blackfish Sound. The A23s seemed to arrive first and were followed by the A30s. There were a lot of calls and echolocation which only got louder. They seemed to be coming east toward Blackney Pass. Unfortunately, the wind and the waves were too heavy and it was impossible to hear blows. One single call on the Local Centre hydrophone confirmed that someone had made it to Blackney Pass. It was now 10pm. It would be another half hour before other calls occurred in the entrance to Blackney Pass confirmed passage to Johnstone Strait. However, only A30 calls were heard. What of the others? Had they come as silent partners or had they merely crossed Blackfish and departed to Queen Charlotte Strait? Not enough information! Once in Johnstone Strait the whales settled on the rather generic calls and a bit of echolocation before becoming mute by 10:48pm. Then nothing more past midnight. It was rather amusing that when the orcas reached Johnstone Strait a humpback accompanied their calls with his own repertoire, grumblings and whups. Earlier, just before dark, and before the orcas made it to Blackney, the humpbacks known as Inukshuk and Quartz had come close to the Lab breaching and pec slapping. They weren’t feeding, just playful in the windy waves. They parted in opposite directions with Inukshuk moving south, Quartz north. Did Inukshuk become the interesting vocalist off Cracroft Point? The above list of the many humpbacks shows just how busy and well attended the Pass is throughout the day. Glance around and everywhere are the tall plumes of breaths shooting skyward, suspended momentarily, then dissipating after capture by the wind. We mentioned the heavy winds off Cracroft Point. Mid afternoon a group of kayakers found themselves in trouble in the strong currents and wind. One kayak flipped over and its occupant was tossed into the water. Megan, Shari and Momoko were watching and Megan immediately called in a MayDay over the VFH. Coast Guard 508 responded as did Farewell Harbour. Both arrived on scene within fifteen minutes. The situation was resolved, all the kayakers got safely to shore and although the woman had swallowed water she was declared okay by the medic on board the Coast Guard boat. This was after Megan and Momoko had brought over warm clothes and a hot drink. The Coast Guard then accompanied them safely to a place where they could camp overnight and requested that they would not go out again the next day as the winds were still forecast to be as heavy. The kayakers were all very grateful to everyone who had helped. Megan was commended for her handling of the MayDay. On a very different front, the Lab volunteers who wished to go (a few stayed behind) went off in the late afternoon to enjoy the annual Boat Bay party hosted by the Cliff crew and Wardens. The northwester had one very positive attribute - the skies were clear, the stars came out shining, no fog was looming!

OrcaLab
27 Aug 2022 07:47:13 PDT



August 25 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s,A23s,?T038s Humpbacks: Claw and baby, Stitch,Quartz,Tag, Inukshuk As far as we understand, without further proof, the A23s and the A54s continued east from the eastern boundary of the Ecological Reserve. The last evidence we had were their calls off of Strider and Main beaches around midnight. Sometime before we had heard the faint calls of the A50s as they, perhaps always separate from the other two groups, stayed within audible range for the rest of the night and early morning. No calls could be clearly attributed to the other two groups - it was all seemingly A50s except for a humpback who growled, grunted and swirled next to Strider beach at 4:30am. In due course at least the A50s moved past Robson Bight, Kazumi and eventually Cracroft Point where despite the fog, A84, A72 and A108 were confirmed by Megan and Shari at 9am. Half an hour before orcas were seen on the Vancouver Island side. Curiously they were eastbound. Was this A50, A123 and A99, the other half of the A50s and afterwards did they swing across to the Cracroft Island side or were there still other groups in play? So few audio clues and lousy foggy conditions we will have to leave off with a few loose ends. However they engineered it, all the A50s left the Cracroft Point area and went through Blackney Pass starting at 9:22am. They were silent and all we could do, with no visibility whatsoever, was listen and count blows. They found their way through Blackfish by employing their echolocation, still refusing to vocalize. A report was received past 12pm that the A50s had made it to the White Cliff Islets. They were looking very social - another way of saying relaxed. Hours passed. Just past 4pm, they were back in Blackney Pass and headed south. You are correct if you have guessed that the fog by this time had lifted. Brief passing. They were out of view by 4:23pm. Once in the Strait they foraged off the entrance to Blackney Pass before scooting across to the Kaikash area by 6pm. As they headed along the Vancouver Island shoreline there was one pass over of the Kazumi beach at 6:18pm. After a moment’s hesitation the A50s resumed their path going east and at 6:49pm they were easting off Izumi Rock. We would not pick up their trail again until 8:21pm when they were approaching Robson Bight and Critical Point. Meanwhile a group of Bigg’s orcas were in Blackney Pass. First spotted heading to Blackney Pass at 6:26pm by Nancy and David as they returned in the Sonic from a town run. It would be another hour before we caught another report of Bigg’s when by Parson Light. Sea lions are beginning to haul out on the rocks by Parson Light and they did “look” nervous, aware probably of the proximity of the Bigg’s orcas moving south toward them very slowly. It was, however, a small group, too far for us to identify except to note there were up to four individuals including a very young one and no adult males. The nearby whale watching boat tentatively identified them as the T038s. They did not make much head way and in fact by 8:07pm they were seen heading further into Parson Bay. The Bigg’s eventually stepped out of Parson Bay and at 8:44pm were seen one last time mid channel heading south just past the Lab. They took an incredibly deep, long dive and were lost to the gloom of the evening light. By 8:40pm the A50s were much closer to Robson Bight. Over the next hour they remained in this vicinity. 10:24pm marked only a few more distant calls suggested perhaps another change in direction. There was a lot of boat noise. The day was nearly done, a few questions lingering.

OrcaLab
26 Aug 2022 11:48:54 PDT



August 24 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s Humpbacks: Stitch, Quartz, Tag, Inukshuk and maybe Argonaut For the first time in a while, all groups moved out to the west overnight, and our morning was spent in anticipation of their return. Shortly after midnight, the A30s and A23s made a bid for Blackney. Shari, listening on the remote platform, heard breaches and blows. By 12:30am, the A30s were audible on Parson Island, and began their journey into our pass. The A23s would mill off the point for a while. At 1:09am, a humpback breached close to the lab, sending a loud crash echoing round the trees. The A30s' blows could be heard by 1:14am, traveling fairly quickly to the north. Their calls in Blackfish Sound were brief. It took the A23s a little longer to decide on their next move (or perhaps, they were just enjoying the Strait to themselves!), Whatever their motives, they finally followed the A30s through Blackney and into the Sound shortly after 3am. All whales moved out to the west, leaving us in silence for the remainder of the night. The August fog has well and truly persisted. We are enveloped in thick, low clouds until around noon each day - sometimes longer. At 9:35am, masked by the veil, we could hear the blows of returning Resident orcas heading south. The Skana on scene confirmed all A30s and A23s in the mix. Today, for the first time in a while, the groups did not go east to rub; they headed over to Vancouver Island and made their way west. Jared Towers, listening on the Telegraph Cove hydrophone, could hear them at 1:40pm. The A50s chose to head through Weynton Passage and into Blackfish Sound, while the A54s and A23s remained in the Strait. The two latter groups turned back to the east, and were just off the Wastell Islets before 2pm. The orcas were spread as they headed back to Cracroft Point, the A54s favoring the Vancouver Island shore as they often do. A60 alone was visible and audible off Cracroft Point between 3:30pm and 4pm. It is rare we can say ‘those calls belong to that one individual!’ - so this was a particularly exciting event. The A54s came for a longer rub at Kaizumi at 3:48pm, with some of the A23s joining in too. Some more frequent and excited calls from all parties tipped us off to their intention: Blackney-bound! They all moved over to Cracroft Point and then further to the Hanson shore, as the leading whales began to make their move into the pass by 6pm. They came in as a fairly large group altogether, with a few leading the way out in front. Once in Blackfish Sound, the A54s and A23s joined up with the A50s, who had been milling around Bold Head. Much to our delight, the whales decided to turn and come back! By 7:20pm we could see a few of the A54s in the pass, heading south this time. They were spread out and fairly far from us. The A23s came next, in a tight group mid-pass, and remained this way for the entire crossing. Eventually, the A54s formed another tight group, and followed the A23s towards Johnstone Strait. Parson Island was lit up with a beautiful golden glow by the sinking sun; a beautiful backdrop for this peaceful passing. But what of the A50s? Suzie’s prediction was: A50s will come last, close to Hanson, riding the back-eddy current. Bingo! At 8:16pm they came in, close to Burnt Point. On deck, we contained our excitement and maintained a respectful calm as they cruised by. There were no boats present for any of the groups’ time in Blackney, and the whales matched this lull with a silence of their own. Nevertheless, it was a magical evening - especially for new assistant Dori who was seeing her very first orcas on her first eve at the lab. The orcas all passed CP, A23s in the lead at 8:43pm, and they peeled off to the east. After some foraging in Robson Bight, a brief rub at Main was had at 11:20pm by the A54s and another slightly longer rub at Strider at 11:32pm. Just before midnight we could discern the A50s decision to come west as the others, the A54s and A23s, slipped off to the east. The mixed calls saw us through to midnight.

OrcaLab
25 Aug 2022 14:18:53 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

August 23 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s, ?T100s Humpbacks: Stitch, Quartz, Guardian, Black Pearl & Kraken Overnight, the A30s and A23s stayed in the Strait, their calls - faint and sporadic - bouncing between Kaizumi, Cracroft Point and the Ecological Reserve. At 4:36 we could hear them echoey in Robson Bight, as they foraged in the calmness of night. The early dawn brought some beautiful footage to our audience. As the bluey hues of the morning crept in around 6am, a few crescendoing calls at Strider alerted us to the whales’ presence. In the calm, glassy waters, we could see all of the whales in a tight group slowly approaching the beach. They were rolling and splashing gracefully, and glided by the beach as a group in one fell swoop. A few members stayed to rub some more until 6:30am, when all peeled off to the east and into the fog. They did not get too far, as by midday they were heading west again just past the eastern edge of the Reserve, still tight together as a group. They rubbed briefly at Main Beach on their way at 12:26pm, but Strider was to be the main event of the day. The leading whales made it to the beach at 12:31pm, and began a beautiful 45-minute rub. All members came in and there were lots of spyhops and rolls, tail slaps and milling at the surface. The tall fin of A60 (Fife) was easily recognizable towering above the rest. We also got a good look at A69 (Midsummer) and her young baby. Over twenty orcas in the mix - just fantastic! At 1:16pm they moved offshore, milled for a while, before continuing to the west and into Robson Bight at 1:42pm. The A30s sounded to be in the lead, with the A23s following. They foraged for a while, ever westing, and here the groups seemed to split a little. The A54s hugged the Vancouver Island shore, passing Kaizumi (but no rub) in a few separate groups from 2:27pm. The A50s and A23s, it seemed, moved more mid-strait and towards Cracroft Point. Megan and Shari could see distant blows and a sprouter (A84, Klaoitsis, perhaps) and we could hear mid-range A5 calls in the mix too. They didn’t spend long foraging here, and by 3:49pm all orcas were between Big Bay on Hanson Island ad Kaikash on Vancouver Island, spread out across Johnstone Strait and travelling west. From here, they rode the ebbing current north through Weynton Passage, looping round Hanson Island and back into Blackfish Sound by 6pm. At the same time, the T100s popped up in Blackney Pass and headed to the south. We could identify T100C, E and F. Naturally, we were getting close to dinner time and the Northern Residents were planning a visit into the pass! We loaded our plates with Helena’s delicious Mac n’ Cheese and trimmings, and headed onto the deck to wait for the whales. The A54s came in first at 6:38pm. They were very spread out and on the middle-to-far side of the pass, making it difficult to get a good look in the westerly chop. Also fighting a 3-knot ebb! The towering fin of A60 was visible next and, as they moved through, the A23s all bunched up together, mid-pass, and travelled as a family. The A75s (Cedar and her offspring) joined them as they passed Parson Island. True to form, the A50s came last at 7:45pm, close to the Hanson shore, riding the back-eddy current that worked in their favour. It was a lovely passing as the golden light illuminated islands across the pass. By 8pm the first whales were visible from Cracroft Point, and all followed the leaders into Johnstone Strait, where they began to cross over towards Kaizumi and to the east. By 9:40pm the leading whales had made it to Critical Point in Robson Bight - time for that midnight snack! - before all moved to the east. We heard mixed calls around the rubbing beaches from 10:15pm, and the whales made it as far as Main beach before turning their sights to the west again. No rubs this time, but all groups were still in each other’s company. They tracked towards Cracraft Point once more, and this day ended with excited A30 calls around midnight. Folk at the lab were once again delighted by the incredible bioluminescence in the water as the darkness fell. Bellies full and hearts happy, most of us settled into bed, while those of us on shift prepared for hours of listening and learning in the inky blackness of night.

Suzie, OL
24 Aug 2022 14:30:35 PDT



August 22 2022 Orcas: A50s,A54s, A23s, T060D, T060E Humpbacks: Stitch, Quartz, Claw & baby and possibly Tag LetÕs jump right into the middle, the middle of the Strait that is, because at midnight that is where the orcas were after entering Johnstone Strait a while earlier. While we watched fiery concentric circles of sparkly bioluminescence shine bight then dissipate after throwing rocks into the water below the Lab deck, while we glanced the hint of northern lights in the sky, while we listened to the breaths of the humpbacks, the orcas steadily made their way east. We know, by their echolocation and calls that before 1am the lead whales were passing Robson Bight to soon arrive at Strider beach and Main beach beyond. As they had come through Blackney Pass earlier in three groups they held form as they advanced east. A second wave of close echolocation and calls followed the leaders at 1:30am and like the others moved on to Main beach. The last group may have been more mid strait. The whales did not rub at either beach but continued beyond the Ecological Reserve, their fading calls diminishing by 4:12am. Forty minutes later they made their return. All very distant to 6am the resumption of audible calls singled a change in direction was under way. Sure enough at 7:08am they were close enough to Strider beach to begin a three minute rub as individuals passed along the shoreline in their western quest. Another short bout occurred at 7:26am involved A72 and ended 7:28am. Likewise at 7:50am someone else was passing through with a quick touch down on the pebbles. By this time there were whales already nearing the next stop on the road, Robson Bight. Another but longer rub effort went from 8am to 8:10am. That was it. They were now well on their way. Meanwhile. a disturbing image of what looked to be an oil slick just off Strider gave concern. It is the second fuel spill to be noted recently. The source was unknown. Then the first mystery of the day happened in Blackney Pass. Once again dense fog which curtailed any visibility beyond a few metres had descended by morning. At 8:44am suspected orca blows going south were heard. Although effort was put into listening attentively there were no convenient calls to solidly convince us who it might be. perhaps a group of BiggÕs? The constant humpback blows confounded the effort to track the blows successfully so we went back to concentrating on the resident orcas in the Strait. By 10:29am the resident orcas were far enough along for part of the A23s to slip into Kaizumi beach for a slow paced seven minute rub at Kaizumi beach. The casualness of the orcas told volumes about their state of being. Nothing was going to happen too quickly. The fog, however, made tracking further movements quite difficult so it was helpful to hear from Scotty at 10:46am that the whales were now spread out from Cracroft Point to Kaikash Creek area. We abandoned the Lab momentarily to have a group photo on the rocks before Heyli, Susannah and LucyÕs departure. Earlier some of us caught SusannahÕs last magic show as requested by Paul. Susannah has been studying magic for just six months but she totally managed to bamboozle all of us with her Ņno funny businessÓ tricks. We wonder how PaulÕs great grandkids will react when shown the video of SusannahÕs performance? Perhaps they will figure it out! At 11am came the dayÕs second mystery. Scotty relayed a report he got that there were orcas near Ripple Point (eastern Johnstone Strait). Hmmmm? We knew that the A50s and the A23s in had been identified so far in this part of Johnstone Strait but what of the A54s? No one claimed to have seen them. Suzie, tasked with taking Heyli, Susannah and Lucy away, came across T060D and T060E near Alert Bay at 11:30am. If you have been following their story over the past several days you will know we have had several unexpected encounters with them. This day being by chance no different even if further away from the Lab. From 11:30am till 1pm the resident orcas were off Cracroft Point and the entrance to Blackney Pass. The fog was beginning to lift somewhat as the whales gave Blackney a miss and carried on to the west, a familiar choice. Our guess that they would not exit via Weynton proved correct even though they ventured at least as far as Telegraph Cove and just beyond the range of our hydrophones. Later in the afternoon, at 4:08am, their turn back east was signalled by now audible calls, just as they had when the whales came back into range when east of the Ecological Reserve. It is a convenient indicator for us. We prepared ourselves for their return towards the Cracroft Point area where we could also watch and learn about their movements from the remote cameras and Megan and ShariÕs reports. By 4:35pm the camera spotted orcas when off Blinkhorn, at 4:39pm when mid strait, at 4:52pm when angling to Cracroft Point, when at 5:07pm they were all back on the Vancouver Island side, and when at 5:09pm A60 was identified, his tall dorsal fin so conveniently easy to track, also closer to the far side. All the orcas were now quite distant for the Cracroft Island remote camera. Fortunately, because of the camera on the Vancouver Island side further east we saw their entry to Kaizumi at 5:30pm where they had a lovely six minute rub before continuing on. An unexpected observation was supplied by the Ecological Reserve Wardens returning from Alert Bay on their way to their camp in Boat Bay. They reported that whales were heading towards the Western Boundary of the Reserve at 5:42pm. Just after 6pm, A60 was seen again entering the Reserve so we knew convincingly that at least his group was making way. By 6:40pm FifeÕs family were off Robson Bight. Mixed in with their calls were those of the A30s. We could see the orcas, after leaving the Bight area, advance towards Strider beach. This is when the waters of understanding became a bit muddy and we had our third mystery of the day. The group who entered seemingly from the west looked to be the A54s. Only their family calls were heard for a long while. Where had they really come from? Had they been the group at Ripple Point and were only now actually arriving on scene? Classically, the calls and rubs of these whales registered on both Strider and Main. It was a good rub, lots of activity above and below, lots of movement back and forth. They were into it! The first rub at Strider went from 7:10pm till 7:44pm. It was interlaced with a rub at Main from 7:18pm till 7:44pm. We saw a lot of salmon swim through on the underwater camera and it looked as if the orcas noticed as well because at one point they bunched together, called excitedly and dove in unison. They were on something! Soon after they had something else to excite them. Around 8pm part of the A23s (although not Fife!), possibly part of the A50s (although not Bend!) joined them at the beaches. A brief one minute rub at Main was heard at 8:05pm. What a scene! In a bid to organize themselves they went offshore, travelled east for just a bit and then turned back through Strider at 8:19pm and finally off into the beautiful sunset. Of course this was not the end of their day, nor ours. 8:30pm had them offshore of the Robson Bight area once more. Here they stalled somewhat. By 11:30pm, we suspected that they were very spread out, vacillating east and west, and even perhaps shifting somewhat over to the south side of the Strait. And come midnight, this is where they were, right in the middle once again!

OrcaLab
23 Aug 2022 09:10:39 PDT



August 21 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s,T060D, T060E Humpbacks: Black Pearl, Kraken, Claw and baby, Stitch, Domino,Squiggle, Argonaut, Guardian, Cutter, plus two identified as yet Pacific White-sided dolphins We begin off the eastern end of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve at 12:46am with the A30s who would remain vocal over the next three hours, mostly distant, sometimes closer, sometimes excited, sometimes foraging, and always seemingly in the same vicinity. When daylight was hinting at 5:33am there were suddenly clear A5 calls off of Cracroft Point. How the A5s arrived in Johnstone Strait is not clear but here they were after a long absence that seemed forever. In reality it was just over three weeks (July 28). Shari, along with Emma who was staying the night at the CP camp, listened to the blows of the small group as they initially headed east, turned back in closer to Cracroft and then righted themselves once more toward the east by 6:04am. Soon in the background of the A5 calls the A30s, who by this time had come further west probably to meet the incoming whales, were calling too. Over the next half hour neither of these groups were close to any of the hydrophones. But then by 8:15am, the A5s and the A30s now in closer proximity to each other finally neared Robson Bight and rounded Critical Point on an eventual path to the rubbing beaches beyond. Nearly an hour later, at 9:05am they began to rub at Strider beach. What a wonderful place to be together, mingle, be slow, take a rest, be undisturbed. The shoreline belonged to them alone and them alone right down to Main beach. Above and below they slid and rolled past each other all the while their calls interspersed with the ŅchuffÓ sounds of scattered pebbles. But wouldnÕt you know it, during the focused intensity of this long, long rub, T060D and his brother T060E, provided a brief interlude when they came out of the fog just south of the Lab at 10:16am and temporarily refocused our attention. They surfaced close to the Lab before taking a long dive and disappeared completely before 10:20am. These two BiggÕs orcas remarkably have been in Blackney Pass for the last three days. The rub at Strider, which had included calls happening close to Main as well, ended at 10:37am, just two hours after it began. From Strider the whales, now identified as the A23s, the A50s and the A54s, went west. Of course, this brought them back to Robson Bight. Before 11am close calls and echolocation marked the A5s approaching Critical Point. With some individuals in the Bight and others spread out across the Strait, the whales slowly progressed toward Cracroft Point while foraging. The whales travelling closer to Vancouver Island naturally crossed in front of Kaizumi beach from 11:49am to 12pm. By this time, whales were beginning to arrive off Cracroft Point as well. The A50s were closest and spent additional time foraging there. It would not be until after 1pm that the whales would entirely become free of the rip off the entrance to Blackney Pass and carry on west. They and several dolphins fanned out across the Strait and at 2:39pm were reported headed to Beaver Cove. With the whales engaged so far west this gave us a break of sorts. Always in the background are the humpbacks who visit Blackney Pass. At the beginning of their season two or three occupied the Pass most days. This number steadily has increased as the summer has progressed. Twelve different individuals transited or foraged in Blackney this day, a record of sorts for August. Kam identified, Black Pearl & Kraken, Claw & baby, Stitch, Domino,Squiggle, Argonaut, Guardian, Cutter, plus two to be still identified. Several took advantage of these northern waters for the opportunity to feed, employing different strategies to do so. Just after 5pm the A23s and A30s were back off Kaikash Creek, the entrance to Blackney Pass and Cracroft Point having turned sometime earlier. Once again the A50s were closest to Cracroft Point. A60 was mid strait with Bend. Their approach to the entrance of Blackney Pass began around 5:30pm and whales, the A50s first, began disappearing into Blackney soon after. They reappeared in our view at 5:42pm as they headed north. By 6:14pm the various groupings cleared into Blackfish Sound where they continued west. Scotty was able to report at 7:36pm that the A50s, A23s and A54s had passed the White Cliff Islets - the same time as when Shari and Megan were enjoying watching another humpback lunge feeding in the glowing sunset. It took the resident orcas a while before they would retrace their steps back through Blackney Pass and into Johnstone Strait. The first evidence of their return occurred with very faint echolocation at 9:47pm. The subsequent calls heard were also faint. Momoko, Claire, Emma and Nancy listened and reported blows in Blackney at 10:22pm. The orcas came in waves. First A30s, eventually A5s. All moved south and into Johnstone Strait and either crossed over to mid strait (and beyond) immediately or turned east. Dolphins accompanied them once again. Humpback sounds and movements filled in the rest of this canvas. Tonight was HeyliÕs, LucyÕs and SusannaÕs last evening and at dinner we made the opportunity to voice our appreciation of their efforts, hard work, enthusiasm and company over the several weeks they had been part of OrcaLab. They will be missed.

OrcaLab
22 Aug 2022 08:30:21 PDT



Superb sounds!!

August 20 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s Humpbacks: Guardian, Stitch, Tag Pacific Whitesided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise The A30s continued in Johnstone Strait in silence, and we believe it was the A54s who peeled away first to the east, while the A50s lingered back. Just before 1am, the A54s became vocal as they foraged in the Bight, catching a midnight snack in their favourite feeding spot. They continued on, pausing for one brief fly-by of Strider Rubbing Beach at 2am. Their calls grew fainter as the family milled offshore, heading east into the night. The A50s, meanwhile, had likely stayed back. At 4am we heard a few brief ‘chuffs’ from scattering pebbles at Kaizumi but they, too, did not rub for long. They followed the flukeprints of the A54s and we tracked their calls getting closer to Strider for the next couple of hours. At 6:36am, as the sun began to burst through the dawn fog, A50 (Clio) and her youngest came to rub at Strider alone. They stayed for a short while, and we captured some beautiful footage of the pair in glassy, orange waters. They moved to the west, making room for Bend (A72) to come for a solitary rub at 6:56am. She, too, followed suit to the west, as did the rest of her family. They left us a trail of audible clues, as the A50s hugged the Vancouver Island shoreline until Kaizumi, where they began to cross over Johnstone Strait to Cracroft Point around 9:15am. The morning - like all mornings recently - was shrouded in heavy fog, and only blows were available to the pair tracking whales at our remote outpost. As seems to be their habit these days, the A50s foraged off Cracroft Point for a while, making the most of the easy fishing brought by the flooding current. We saw them on camera briefly just before noon as a fog bank lifted, alongside a small group of Pacific White-sided Dolphins minutes later. Around this time, the A54s were at Eve River and heading west, back towards the Reserve. Around the turn of the tide, the A50s made their move into Blackney Pass at 12:40pm. Our view was partly covered in fog, and the whales’ dorsals were barely visible behind the curtain. It took a little while for them to pass, and they stayed largely together as a group until they were out of our sight at 1:30pm. The A54s made their entrance from the east, rubbing briefly at Main at 2:32pm before continuing on to Strider. It was a lovely event and we saw some beautiful scenes above and below water. They had stopped by 3pm and off to the west along the shore. Perhaps sensing the movements of the A54s, the A50s promptly turned in Blackfish Sound and were back in our view, close to the lab, at 2:42pm. It truly was an all hands on deck occurrence as we paid attention to the whales out front and the rubs at Strider all at once, The A50s were in a tight group and travelled slowly by. Now fighting an opposing ebb, it took them until 3:54pm to clear from our view towards the Strait. By now, we have become fairly good at predicting their movements and, sure enough, we sensed what was to happen next. The A50s reached Cracroft Point and foraged for a while, steadily crossing Johnstone Strait and angling to the west. The A54s, meanwhile, had followed the curve of the Vancouver Island shoreline, rubbing briefly at Kaizumi at 4:37pm, before continuing west. In synchrony, two sides of a triangle, the two groups were set to intersect with one another. It is incredible how they coordinate their movements despite vast waterways and islands in-between. We watched their fading fins for as long as we could, satisfied that the groups would meet up once more. Sure enough, at 7:36pm, we got word of them altogether around kaikash creek. They moved out to the middle of the channel and wordlessly travelled east. Perhaps taking a moment to rest together, or perhaps just nothing that needed saying. It was a while until we heard them again: just before 10pm all the way down at Main rubbing beach. Their calls were brief and fairly distant, as they headed off into the darkness together. One final rub at Strider at 11pm was their last hurrah, as they moved onwards to the east. Brief rubs today, perhaps saving their energy for what was to come the next day, but that is tomorrow’s story!

Suzie, OL
21 Aug 2022 10:37:51 PDT



August 19 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, BiggÕs orcas (T060D, T060E) Humpbacks: Quartz, Ridge, Tag, Claw and baby, Argonaut, Domino Pacific Whitesided dolphins, Dallas porpoise As Boat Bay was listening to the blows of the A30s off of their camp we were listening to their distant (for us) calls back at the Lab. The calls stayed distant past 2am. Then gradually calls gained in strength around 2:38am followed by the sounds of echolocation. Nothing dramatic - just the whales shifting around from the eastern end of the Reserve. At 4:07am 2-3 blows were detected in Blackney Pass. This event was short lived but perhaps significant as we found out later. The A30s resurfaced at 4:41am off Strider beach and as these calls were followed up with calls off Robson Bight we were sure the whales were on the move in two groups. An A50 matiline rub began at 6:15am. A72 was identified both on the surface and underwater! Later A84 was identified and finally all 6 of the A50s were accounted for by 6:47am. Their rub ended at 6:58am, forty-three minutes long, a really good effort. By 7am they were disappearing east offshore in the fog. Over the next hour the A30s did not stray too far.. There were a lot of distant calls as well as echolocation and even high pitched whistles. At the opposite end of our coverage in Blackfish Sound, Bigg's orcas began to vocalize. Remember those suspected blows earlier in Blackney Pass? Perhaps these BiggÕs had been the cause. Their calls became quite dramatic and were accompanied by the sharp bangs that usually indicate a hunt is in progress. It was still incredibly foggy and that prevented us having a much desired peak on the Flower Island remote camera. Then right in the middle of it all, the A30s were back at Strider to have another rub. Strong ŅchuffÓ alternated with close calls all the while the BiggÕs at least 15 km away were still calling. The BiggÕs continued right up to 9am, then faded. The A30s were now quiet. A group of kayakers stopped by the Lab to tell us that they thought there were orcas in Blackney Pass and indeed at 11:52am after straining into the fog we spotted the BiggÕs. They were not that far off and followed the Hanson Island shoreline past the sea lion haul out (not occupied just yet). They seemed disinterested in the two sea lions who were there in the water. The sea lions, for their part, did not look particularly nervous . The orcas (probably T060D and E) cleared our view at 12:06pm by rounding GabÕs Rock. These two orcas continued through ŅLittle BlackneyÓ (the pass between Hanson and Little Hanson Island) but then a short while later at 12:24pm turned while still in the little pass and came back past the Lab to Burnt Point and cleared our view by 12:36pm. Now it was the A30s turn at the wheel again. At 12:52pm we heard them calling in the Strait. The calls were very faint and masked by the noise of several types of boats. Had the BiggÕs, with their super hearing, heard them and opted for reversing their tracks and away from the resident orcas? They never seem to like to share the same space so it is possible. The BiggÕs neednÕt have worried too much because the A30s were still very far away, probably past the eastern end of the Ecological Reserve. They would remain so until at least 3pm. The persistent fog that was now lifting in some spots would finally dissipate in favour of cloudy blue skies a bit later. From 3:30pm the calls gradually got stronger and some fins were actually seen coming from the east towards Strider. Great calls followed the whales into Main rubbing beach where they rubbed from 3:39pm until 3:44pm. Individuals rubbed again at Main and Strider simultaneously at 3:49pm and ended at both ten minutes later. Scrubbed and ready for a bite to eat the A30s were sighted next opposite the Cliff camp spread out and foraging at 4:06pm. They were still foraging east of Izumi Rock all the while making progress to the west. They passed close to Kaizumi around 5pm but did not rub. Dolphin chatter peppered and mingled with those of the scattered A30s. Sometime around 6:40pm the orcas began to commit to Blackney Pass after coming closer to Cracroft Point. Just like the BiggÕs hours before the A50s took ŅLittle Blackney PassÓ. They had not done that in a long while! A popular route this day apparently. They were in our view by 6:49pm and headed north. The A54s slipped in as well and while the A50sÕ path brought them a little closer to us (more mid channel) the A54sÕ course was further over to the far side. The two groups were basically parallel to each other. But while the A50s seemed bent on travel, the A54s, slightly more spread out, were still intent on foraging. They all cleared pretty much at the same time at 7:13pm. Their time in Blackfish Sound was brief. They turned and came east to Blackney Pass. This time they were all together and much closer to us. Ever so pretty. The fog was descending again as they cleared at 8:30pm and began their journey east in the Strait. They were silent. In Blackney Pass it had been a stellar day for humpbacks. Seven individuals were identified over the course of the day. These are listed above. One individual was seen Ņtrap feedingÓ a feeding behaviour done when a humpback, with their head lifted high out of the water, uses their huge pectoral fins to encircle feed and direct it to their gaping mouth. As a postscript two humpbacks, a mum and baby, were filmed off Cracroft Point in the sunset. Sigh. The rest of the evening listening was given to the noise of large commercial boats transiting the area. CanÕt have paradise without a few glitches it seems!

OrcaLab
20 Aug 2022 09:00:16 PDT



August 18 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s,A34s,T060D, T060E Humpbacks: Black Pearl, Kraken (Black PearlÕs baby) and possibly Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins We begin where we left off. The orcas of the day, the matrilines of the A30s, the A50s and A54s and those of the I15s, the I4s, I27s and I65s, disappeared into Blackfish Sound and beyond after midnight. The dolphins had the last word at 1am. The night was quiet after that. But little did we know somewhere out in Queen Charlotte Strait lots was happening and at some point the A30s bid the I15s farewell and greeted the A34s! The A34s, for the past several years have rarely ventured into the area until very late in the season so their arrival the next morning was going to be a huge welcomed surprise. Suzie had seen pictures of orcas resembling the A34s a day or so ago prior in Christie Pass (near Port Hardy). But our minds were just not yet ready to believe they would make it this far. In the morning there was dense fog yet again. We could not see a thing. Megan overheard a whale watch boat at 9am mention hearing faint, distant calls while their hydrophone was deployed in Parson Bay. About ten minutes later we heard calls too. A1 calls of course. Given the foggy conditions all we could do was track the calls and echolocation as these grew louder as the whales moved east. Just as the calls grew faint again blows were heard in Blackney Pass at 11:32am. A fairly large group was travelling on the far side of the Pass and later we would surmise that this was the A54s. A second group passed much closer to us. Bend peaking out from the fog turned out to be our only clue as the rest were obscured denying clear individual details. The Skana was on hand close by and gave the confirmation that the A34s were in this group. Off they all went to Johnstone Strait. Megan and Shari also had to be content with listening to blows as the whales entered. But as they did so the A34s, in particular, opened up and made more of the wonderful calls we had not heard since last Fall. We were soon to learn that A62 (Misty) was there. There had been a lot of conversation about her last year. Sightings of her family had been so slim and fleeting that it had been impossible to know if she was really there. We reviewed over and over the few pictures available to us and tentatively suggested she was present after all. It was so good therefore to have this confirmation. Most of the whales, this day were in Johnstone Strait by 12pm and chose to travel east mid strait. By this time the fog was beginning to thin and in places lift entirely enough so that the two remote cameras, the one on the Cracroft Island side and the one on Vancouver Island, were able to follow the whale watch boats and the orcas. By 12:40pm the A34s calls were becoming very clear on the Kaizumi hydrophone. Unfortunately, for us (and the whales too) the noise from the fishing vessel, close to Kaizumi was pretty loud too. As the fish boat went about its business of making a set kayakers were attempting to get a closer look at the whales. The undaunted orcas kept going. After a single quick pass over at Kaizumi they persevered towards Robson Bight and were rounding the eastern headland by 1:48pm. From there it was down to Strider and Main beaches. They closed in on Strider just before 2pm and began a rub at 2:02pm. Surprisingly, they had only a fleeting interest in rubbing. Their first effort lasted only eight minutes. They staged several close calls off Main beach but did not rub. Instead they engineered a turn to the west during which they rubbed again briefly between 2:18 and 2:21pm at Strider. A trailing member of the party had a go at 2:29pm. Robson Bight was soon passed again and at 2:52pm the Cliff declared that everyone was indeed westbound. After foraging east of Kaizumi a couple of the A34s had a three minute rub at 4pm. The kayakers a short time later were seen just 25 meters from the shoreline of this beach. The presence of such activity can and does affect the whales when engaged in rubbing behaviours. This is why Strider and Main beaches are protected as part of the Ecological Reserve and monitored carefully by the Wardens to make sure boaters/human do not intrude. Kaizumi, outside of the Reserve, has no such protection. While we again contemplated this situation two BiggÕs orcas caught our attention in Blackney Pass. T060D and T060E, brothers, disappeared quickly around Burnt Point. They did not go far and at 4:18pm reappeared opposite the Swanson Island shore. As the Resident orcas crossed over closer to Cracroft Point, these two brothers headed to White Beach Pass, past Harbledown, and over to the north edge of Parson Island. By 5:23pm they were in Parson Bay heading north and it was here that we lost track of them. The A30s, after some milling and foraging off of Cracroft Point and the entrance to Blackney Pass, entered Blackney Pass and came into view at 5:33pm. The A34s, however, carried on to the west in Johnstone Strait. The A30s were not in a hurry and it took them an hour to traverse the Pass and enter Blackfish Sound. A84 seemed quite distracted. He looked as if he was foraging but it was interesting that one of the young A34 males had also exhibited some reluctance to follow his group and had almost made a try for Blackney Pass. Were these whales of a similar sensibility? Did they not want to part? The call of family in the end prevailed and both went on their decided way. By 7:40pm there were only faint A30 calls heard in Blackfish Sound. The A34s by this time were in Beaver Cove west of Telegraph Cove. Jim Borrowman saw them come out around 8pm but lost them in the fog that had descended once again. The A30s likewise became once more evident to us on the Flower Island remote camera as they headed east toward Blackney Pass. By 8:22pm there were blows heard on the far side near Parson Light where humpbacks breached and huffed nearby. Soon calls were heard and we were able to track the A30s into Johnstone Strait. The A54s were first and amazingly after Megan told us she and Shari counted around ten blows we actually found them, surrounded by dolphins, as they crossed through fog and growing dark toward mid strait. We could hear the A50s coming into the Straits soon afterwards. We had no luck finding the A50s as it was too dark but Megan and Shari obligingly counted 6 blows, the perfect number. Both these groups went east and the Cliff (now at their camp in Boat Bay) informed us that by 10:36pm they were hearing lots of blows just offshore. We heard a few calls and just past midnight this camp still had a group out front of them. And thatÕs where we will leave this dayÕs story. In the seemingly seamless life of these orcas there will be, no doubt, more to say tomorrow.

OrcaLab
19 Aug 2022 09:14:11 PDT



August 18 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s,A34s,T060D, T060E Humpbacks: Black Pearl, Kraken (Black PearlÕs baby) and possibly Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins We begin where we left off. The orcas of the day, the matrilines of the A30s, the A50s and A54s and those of the I15s, the I4s, I27s and I65s, disappeared into Blackfish Sound and beyond after midnight. The dolphins had the last word at 1am. The night was quiet after that. But little did we know somewhere out in Queen Charlotte Strait lots was happening and at some point the A30s bid the I15s farewell and greeted the A34s! The A34s, for the past several years have rarely ventured into the area until very late in the season so their arrival the next morning was going to be a huge welcomed surprise. Suzie had seen pictures of orcas resembling the A34s a day or so ago prior in Christie Pass (near Port Hardy). But our minds were just not yet ready to believe they would make it this far. In the morning there was dense fog yet again. We could not see a thing. Megan overheard a whale watch boat at 9am mention hearing faint, distant calls while their hydrophone was deployed in Parson Bay. About ten minutes later we heard calls too. A1 calls of course. Given the foggy conditions all we could do was track the calls and echolocation as these grew louder as the whales moved east. Just as the calls grew faint again blows were heard in Blackney Pass at 11:32am. A fairly large group was travelling on the far side of the Pass and later we would surmise that this was the A54s. A second group passed much closer to us. Bend peaking out from the fog turned out to be our only clue as the rest were obscured denying clear individual details. The Skana was on hand close by and gave the confirmation that the A34s were in this group. Off they all went to Johnstone Strait. Megan and Shari also had to be content with listening to blows as the whales entered. But as they did so the A34s, in particular, opened up and made more of the wonderful calls we had not heard since last Fall. We were soon to learn that A62 (Misty) was there. There had been a lot of conversation about her last year. Sightings of her family had been so slim and fleeting that it had been impossible to know if she was really there. We reviewed over and over the few pictures available to us and tentatively suggested she was present after all. It was so good therefore to have this confirmation. Most of the whales, this day were in Johnstone Strait by 12pm and chose to travel east mid strait. By this time the fog was beginning to thin and in places lift entirely enough so that the two remote cameras, the one on the Cracroft Island side and the one on Vancouver Island, were able to follow the whale watch boats and the orcas. By 12:40pm the A34s calls were becoming very clear on the Kaizumi hydrophone. Unfortunately, for us (and the whales too) the noise from the fishing vessel, close to Kaizumi was pretty loud too. As the fish boat went about its business of making a set kayakers were attempting to get a closer look at the whales. The undaunted orcas kept going. After a single quick pass over at Kaizumi they persevered towards Robson Bight and were rounding the eastern headland by 1:48pm. From there it was down to Strider and Main beaches. They closed in on Strider just before 2pm and began a rub at 2:02pm. Surprisingly, they had only a fleeting interest in rubbing. Their first effort lasted only eight minutes. They staged several close calls off Main beach but did not rub. Instead they engineered a turn to the west during which they rubbed again briefly between 2:18 and 2:21pm at Strider. A trailing member of the party had a go at 2:29pm. Robson Bight was soon passed again and at 2:52pm the Cliff declared that everyone was indeed westbound. After foraging east of Kaizumi a couple of the A34s had a three minute rub at 4pm. The kayakers a short time later were seen just 25 meters from the shoreline of this beach. The presence of such activity can and does affect the whales when engaged in rubbing behaviours. This is why Strider and Main beaches are protected as part of the Ecological Reserve and monitored carefully by the Wardens to make sure boaters/human do not intrude. Kaizumi, outside of the Reserve, has no such protection. While we again contemplated this situation two BiggÕs orcas caught our attention in Blackney Pass. T060D and T060E, brothers, disappeared quickly around Burnt Point. They did not go far and at 4:18pm reappeared opposite the Swanson Island shore. As the Resident orcas crossed over closer to Cracroft Point, these two brothers headed to White Beach Pass, past Harbledown, and over to the north edge of Parson Island. By 5:23pm they were in Parson Bay heading north and it was here that we lost track of them. The A30s, after some milling and foraging off of Cracroft Point and the entrance to Blackney Pass, entered Blackney Pass and came into view at 5:33pm. The A34s, however, carried on to the west in Johnstone Strait. The A30s were not in a hurry and it took them an hour to traverse the Pass and enter Blackfish Sound. A84 seemed quite distracted. He looked as if he was foraging but it was interesting that one of the young A34 males had also exhibited some reluctance to follow his group and had almost made a try for Blackney Pass. Were these whales of a similar sensibility? Did they not want to part? The call of family in the end prevailed and both went on their decided way. By 7:40pm there were only faint A30 calls heard in Blackfish Sound. The A34s by this time were in Beaver Cove west of Telegraph Cove. Jim Borrowman saw them come out around 8pm but lost them in the fog that had descended once again. The A30s likewise became once more evident to us on the Flower Island remote camera as they headed east toward Blackney Pass. By 8:22pm there were blows heard on the far side near Parson Light where humpbacks breached and huffed nearby. Soon calls were heard and we were able to track the A30s into Johnstone Strait. The A54s were first and amazingly after Megan told us she and Shari counted around ten blows we actually found them, surrounded by dolphins, as they crossed through fog and growing dark toward mid strait. We could hear the A50s coming into the Straits soon afterwards. We had no luck finding the A50s as it was too dark but Megan and Shari obligingly counted 6 blows, the perfect number. Both these groups went east and the Cliff (now at their camp in Boat Bay) informed us that by 10:36pm they were hearing lots of blows just offshore. We heard a few calls and just past midnight this camp still had a group out front of them. And thatÕs where we will leave this dayÕs story. In the seemingly seamless life of these orcas there will be, no doubt, more to say tomorrow. 0100 PWD FI 0900 ww hearing distant calls on Hydrophone in Parson Bay 0912 distant calls heard A1s 0957 el on FI, rapid A1 calls 1008 mr calls FI 1044 lots of el 1955 calls become louder Calls become faint 1132 blows in fog 1138 third group includes A72 1140 calls PI 1143 A12 sp 1150 A62 seen (misty)!! 1200 calls on CP ŹLoud el getting louder Lots of N3s 1215 mr calls on KRB then dist el, calls cont CP Whales heading east in JS 1240 clear A34 KRB 1257 going east ms 1327 test fishing right off KRB 1347 kayakers on KRB 1357 major human presence KRB 1306 single chuff KRB, 2 small fins past KRB headed east Western Brave setting KRB 1326 el on CRPT/distant calls SRB 1348 close calls CRPT 1358 close calls SRB 1404 rub start SRB 1406 calls MRB 1410 rub ends SRB 1418 Rub start SRB 1421 SRB rub end 1429 single chuff SRB/ Whales turn west from eastern end - no rub at MRB 1442 el on CRPT 1448 close el CRPt 1452 EE report all heading west 1535 group east of KRB1539 kayakers on KRB beach 1548 goofy calls 1553 foraging east of KRB 1600 Rub start KRB 1603 rub end KRB 1611 close calls kRB T060D & E in BP at Burtn Point heading north 1612 2 kayakers 25 meters from shore , one whale offshore 1618 Biggs at Dock 1628 D&E off dock Cross JS, very spread out 1636 A34s on CP 1623 D&E WBP 1624 Oo milling/foraging between KRB and CP 1628 D&E HOH 1631 Megan sees OO between CP and Western B 1652 heading west 1656 D&E hanging out near North edge 1723 D&E mid Parson Bay Close calls/el EBP cont 1733 Oo in BP (A30s)A50s/54s head north thru BP to BFS, A84 stops to forage Ź 1742 A34s continue west 1831 last group clears to BFS/calls FI 1854 - not visibleŹ 1933 faint calls FI 1940 faint calls and el FI 1940 Jim reports group of Oo went into BC now ?headed eastŹ by 2004 1952 on FI cam heading east/calls and el cont 2022 hearing blows BP/ HB breaches <2040 blows heard outside farside in fog, then calls on PI - Oo heading south Heavy bn in JS Ocean Clipper - tug eastbound off Schmidt Creek 2047 A30s calls fading PI 2048 faint on CP 2050 louder A30 calls on CP/ el - A54s heading out/ fog getting dark/ Megan countered 10 blows 2103 calls (A50s) were also on PI as A54s headed southeast with dolphins 2104 calls down, bn KRB (there had been calls KRB) 2108 N3s on CP ? 2nd group/ Megan counted six blows Megan reports two groups in total 16 blows (all A30s) A30 calls CP (?A50s), still going 2137 2138 pause in mr calls, distant calls 2236 Boat Bay reports lots of blow passing camp headed east/ we heard distant call just now

OrcaLab
19 Aug 2022 08:57:12 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

August 17 2022 Orcas: Orcas: A50s, A54s, I4s, I27s, I65s Humpbacks: Stitch, Guardian, Quartz, ?Black Pearl & calf With multiple groups now in the area, it is always interesting to see how they organise themselves. At night, we lose our eyes and have to rely on acoustic clues to piece together the whales’ movements. Our best summation is as follows: The A54s and I15 groups seemed to stay east for a while in the very early hours after midnight, as the A50s remained closer to Cracroft Point. A group of I15s began to make their way west again, and based on their groupings earlier in the day, it would make sense for this to be the I27s and I65s joining the A50s. Calls from both groups rang clearly on Parson Island around 2:24am and, shortly after, we heard blows in Blackney Pass heading towards Blackfish Sound. They continued west in the Sound and out of our range. As these whales made their way past us, the 54s and I4s travelled west in the Strait behind them, sounding clearly at Critical Point from 4:45am to 5:40am: they were foraging and travelling through Robson Bight. They, too, headed for Cracroft Point in the early hours of the morning and the team on the platform counted blows passing in the fog. They slipped by us in a typical early-morning August fog and out into Blackfish behind the others. None of the groups went particularly far, as it was only a few hours before they had turned and made their way back. We had a beautiful passing, as the whales came in groups past the lab. At 1204, the A54s and I4s lead the parade, visible only slightly through lingering fog. Next, the I27s and I65s came in, close to Burnt Point, and we saw them clearly only a few hundred metres from the deck. The A50s were last to pass, more mid-channel but favouring our shore. By 1pm they had all made their way back into Johnstone Strait. Another split, as the A54s and I4s headed straight over to the Vancouver Island shore and to the east. The A50s, I27s and I65s, meanwhile, easted closer to the Cracroft Island side. By 4pm whales were visible from the Cliff and Boat Bay, shuffling slightly, before ultimately turning back west. They took their time, resting and travelling slowly, all spread out across the Strait. The arrival at Cracroft Point was quite the spectacle! All whales came in shortly after 5pm, still spread, but incredibly excited. They foraged for a long time in the flooding current, rich with tasty fish. They thought about dipping into Blackney Pass a few times, but eventually came back out for another foraging spree. Finally, at 7:25pm, the current was turning in their favour and they made it into the pass. The I27s with a couple of the A54s came first, favouring the far side, while the rest came in dribs and drabs, fairly mixed, in the middle of the channel. It was a beautiful passing with the sunset glow beginning to illuminate Parson Island. We could identify at least a few members of each group, and they had all cleared from our view by 8:10pm. Their calls, whistles and echolocation tapered off as the groups headed west. On our remote Flower Island camera, we watched the groups split: The I15s continuing out into the sunset, and the A30s turning back towards Blackney. In the very last remnants of light, we saw a group of orcas come back and pass the lab closely at 9:30pm. Their blows were accompanied by a large group of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins and the familiar blows of distant humpbacks. The orcas turned back north mid-passing, sweeping incredibly close to the lab. Under a starry sky we tracked their blows out to Blackfish again, and silence fell over all on deck as we absorbed the incredibly beautiful scene. Their calls tapered off as they headed west, and by 11pm our night fell into acoustic darkness.

Suzie, OL
18 Aug 2022 13:45:27 PDT



Superb sounds!!

August 26 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s, I4s, I27s, I65s Humpbacks: Quartz, Stitch, Tag, ?Inukshuk, ?Meteorite Overnight and out of our range in Queen Charlotte Strait, the A30s met up with the I4s, I27s and I65s. Perhaps this was met with lots of vibrant, excited calls as is often the case when groups meet up. These I15 groups have been away from the area since August 1, and a few mixed calls in Blackfish Sound at 3:20am alerted us to their presence once more. All groups slipped into Johnstone Strait via Weynton Passage as the dawn crept in, and we only heard a few brief calls in the Strait. The morning was socked in with fog, and the whales snuck by Cracroft Point without a peep, and into Blackney Pass at 8am. They passed the lab in near-silence and shrouded in fog, but assistants on deck could track their blows heading north. They had all passed into Blackfish by 8:32am where we heard more brief calls and, with a strong ebb, they headed back out into Queen Charlotte Strait for a while, stretching to the Penfold Islands. By the early afternoon they were on their way back to the east again, and we started to hear reports that they had separated into two groupings: The A50s with the I27s and I65s together nearing the Plumper Islands, and the A54s with the I4s just off Bold Head. The term ‘love fest’ was used to describe the behaviour of the latter group! Slowly, the A54s and I4s drifted east through Blackfish Sound, while the A50s, I27s and I65s chose Weynton Passage. Eventually, they picked up the pace and the A54s and I4s were with us in Blackney at 15:42pm, speeding by in a tight-knit group. They did a few deep dives and made haste into Johnstone Strait, crossing over and heading for the Ecological Reserve. The A50s, I27s and I65s meanwhile made their way east from Weynton to Cracroft Point, where they foraged and milled for a good while in the ripping current. They would remain here for a few hours, while the A54s and I4s rubbed at Strider. The rub lasted for half an hour from 6pm and we caught some beautiful footage. It was great to see the huge dorsal and pectoral fins of I76 on our underwater camera! It has been mainly the A54s at the beach lately, and they lack large males in their group. It is easy to forget just how big they are. A few rubs were also heard at the Main beach during this time. Eventually, they moved off to the east at 6:30pm, leaving the space clear for the next groups. The A50s, I27s and I65s, slowly easting, moved over to the Vancouver Shore as the others were rubbing. We heard some lovely clear calls on Critical Point as they foraged, and a short while later the I27s & I65s came in for a brief rub at Strider at 9:10pm. They only stayed for 25 minutes in the fading light. They, too, rubbed at the Main beach on their way eastward at 9:40pm. The A50s, further behind, didn’t come in for a rub and we are unsure if they made it all the way east, or waited for the other groups to eventually turn back west. Nevertheless, midnight approached with clear mixed calls sounding out from Kaizumi to Main beach: A beautiful concordance of Northern Resident orcas chatting into the night.

Suzie, OL
17 Aug 2022 17:02:50 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

August 15 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s Humpbacks: Stitch, Ridge, Inukshuk, possibly Guardian Middle of August - how did that happen already? By now, we are well into the routine that the A30s are providing, and we are thoroughly enjoying their extended rubs and beautiful, familiar calls. They had gone out west before the night ended, and came back in the early hours of the morning by 3:40am. Their foraging efforts and calls grew gradually louder, until we could hear the blows outside at 4:34am. Given how the day panned out, it is likely that just the A54s had returned this time. They moved into the Strait after 5am, and gave only a few calls as they peeled off to the east. Loud echolocation and calls around Critical Point alerted us to their presence in Robson Bight at 7:11am, and they began to clear the point towards the beaches. There was no rub, however, and they milled offshore in the fog before ultimately turning back to the west. By 9:12am they had made it to Kaizumi and, again, did not rub but continued past the beach, foraging and calling to one another. Back at the lab, Claire was giving a photography workshop when some Bigg’s popped up around Parson Bay at 12:22pm - the perfect opportunity to put those new skills to practice! T019 and T019B were over on the far shore, travelling south. Meanwhile, a group of Dall’s porpoises passed close to the lab heading in the opposite direction. They would not serve as the Bigg’s lunch! We watched the T019 pair for a while and it seemed like they were dipping into Baronet Passage as their fins became smaller and smaller in our view. A report just before 4pm told us that they had made it to the Strait and were heading to the east. The A54s had made a turn, and were back in the Bight - foraging yet again - at 1:37pm. Eat, rub, rest, repeat! The A50s - absent for the day until now - finally showed their fins in Blackney Pass, as they passed fairly close to our shore at 2:20pm. They were altogether as a group, the ever-growing fins of A84 (Klaoitsis) and A99 (Alder) more prominent with each passing day. They made it into the Strait around 2:40pm and began foraging session in the tide rip off Cracroft Point that would last a few hours. FInally, the A54s decided it was time for a good rub and they began at Strider at 2:29pm. The rub was beautiful - especially with our newly–cleaned underwater cam - and we enjoyed delightful footage above and below the waves, alongside their calls. They stayed for over an hour, with a few brief rub from a some individuals at Main during that time, too. Shortly after 4pm, once they had had their fill of belly scratches, the A54s moved back to the west, arriving at Kaizumi by 6:21pm. One rub from one orca is all we heard, before - surprise, surprise - they turned east again!I The A54s sure have put in a lot of miles going back-and-forth during their time here. By this time, the A50s had finished their forage and were also tracking east, closer to the Cracroft shore. The two easting groups mirrored each other on different sides of the Strait, and a few of the A54s came for another brief Strider rub at 8:10pm. With a final “turn” for the day, all whales headed west, this time dipping into Blackney. They passed Megan, Shari, Heyli and Freddy at Cracroft Point shortly before 10pm, then the lab in the darkness twenty minutes later. They sounded spread out. We counted their blows until we could hear them no more at 11pm, relying then on their tapering calls tracking west through Blackfish Sound until they fell silent. Finally, we can say that their move to the west was to pick up new groups. But that will have to wait until tomorrow’s instalment!

Suzie, OL
16 Aug 2022 12:49:10 PDT



August 14 2022 Orcas: A50s,A54s Humpbacks: Argonaut, Stitch, Ridge and possibly Tag It became clearer by midnight that the two A30 family groups had Ņcome togetherÓ in Blackfish Sound and were thinking of returning to Johnstone Strait. They kept enough individual group integrity that while the blows of the leading group were heard in Blackney at 12:45am there were still close calls and echolocation heard from the second group still in Blackfish Sound. This separation (of sorts) was more dramatically illustrated when at 1:23am there were close calls on the Parson Island hydrophone located at the south end of Blackney Pass while calls continued from the north end. After the first group made the turn into Johnstone Strait before 2am they then crossed immediately to the Vancouver Island side. The others followed. The next two hours had them close to Kaizumi at 2:25am, off Critical Point and Robson Bight at around 3:30am and approaching Strider rubbing beach just before 4am. Here they paused their eastern movement to turn back to the west. At 4:35am they brushed over the beach and were on their way. By 5am they were opposite Robson Bight and just under 3 hours total they were back in Blackney Pass and headed north. The morning light was lovely, misty but without heavy fog. They moved quickly and were back in Blackfish before 8am. Once in Blackfish they continued west and we followed them on the remote camera even when very distant after they reached the Ōtop endÓ where they curled around together, not bothering with Weynton Pass, and began to head east close to Hanson Island. The camera stayed with them. They were becoming very social and playful and just after 10;26am they came into view close, very close to Burnt Point. What transpired over the next thirty minutes is really hard to describe adequately. Words really fail. Safe to say it was simply profound for those of us watching. The whales, the A50s and A54s, all fifteen, were so relaxed, so uncaring about any distractions save themselves that they floated and rolled their way slowly past the Lab. To our amazement they reversed and came back still as close as before and still suspended in the same lovely mood. There was just a hint of impatience by a couple of individuals, A84 being one, as they gradually quickened their pace as they neared Burnt Point and cleared out of view. The moment was over but rest assured it would stay with everyone forever. After an hour we lost track of the A30s on the remote camera. but we learned from a report at 1:30pm that the A30s, still very social with each other, were now off the Plumper Islands and headed to Johnstone Strait which they reached by 1:48pm. By 3pm, they were mid strait opposite Big Bay and beginning to angle over to the Vancouver Island side. An hour later, around 4pm, they had made it to Vancouver Island and Kaikash Creek. The A50s, at least, took a twelve minute jump into Kaizumi beach beginning at 4:26pm. Sauntering east toward the Ecological Reserve the whales had clearly not abandoned their relaxed attitude. They eventually arrived at Strider beach and began their longest rub of the day at 6:58pm. Suzie had taken Jeremie and Clair with her in the early morning to Strider, Clair to clean the underwater camera housings and Jeremie to work onsite systems. The cameras at Main and Strider had become increasingly fouled by algae. The result of the scrub was clearly beneficial when the whales were filmed perfectly underwater that evening. What a contrast to the days before! The rub at Strider, with whales crisscrossing each other above and below, lasted until 8:09pm. Included was a rub at Main from 7:06pm to 8:05pm. They were all well and truly on their way west by 8:12pm. This was a fairly efficient trek. Though they passed close by Kaizumi beach, evident by their calls, there was only one quick touch down on the beach. They had other things on their minds and reenergized from their day of relaxation and refreshed from their recent long rubs they had only travel in mind. They crossed directly over to the entrance to Blackney Pass between 10 and 10:18pm. Encouraged no doubt by the strong ebb which had started at 10:07pm, they ended their long day where it began, in Blackfish Sound 10:40pm. Once there their calls quickly faded as they moved further away to the west. By midnight all was quiet but rest assured the dayÕs sights and sounds were still resonating with everyone.

OrcaLab
15 Aug 2022 08:21:38 PDT



August 13 2022 Orcas: A50s, A54s Humpbacks: Tag, Stitch, Ridge As the day unfolded, it transpired that only the A54s came by the lab just before midnight. The A50s continued out west into Queen Charlotte Strait, where they spent most of their day. This is the first time that they have split for so long in a good while, and we wonder if the A50s went out to have a listen to open watersÉ After passing into Johnstone Strait, the calls of the A54s moved to Cracroft Point as they began their move to the Reserve. Some individuals were closer to Kaizumi around 0:15am, while others were still over by the Cracroft Shore. Spread out in the expansive, black water, they steadily tracked east. By 1:38am a few whales had made it to the eastern point of Robson Bight, echolocating heavily before continuing on. We did hear clear calls on both Strider and Main beaches between 1:50am and 2:40pm but, alas, no rub was to be had. They remained in range, calls tapering off, last audible off the beaches at 4am. With the dawn, the A54s returned west, unannounced. The signature ŌchuffingÕ sound of pebbles alerted us to their presence at Strider, as just one individual did a brief fly-by of the beach at 6:53am. Westbound, they stayed closer to the Vancouver Island shore, and we saw a couple of breaches in line with Kaizumi around 8:28am. They made it to the Wastell Islets - just near Telegraph Cove - at 10:30am, before turning and heading back to the east. Approaching Kaizmi again (from the opposite direction) at 12:42pm, they were cut-off from the beach by a very large, noisy seine boat setting its net in an almost-perfect hemisphere around their rubbing spot. We could see them moving steadily east, and couldn't help but wonder if they might have come in for a rub had the fishing vessel not been there. Once again, they passed close to the eastern tip of Robson Bight - a foraging favorite - before heading to Strider at 2:20pm. This time a rub was on the cards! As has become their ŌsignatureÕ this summer, the A54s rubbed for over an hour at Strider, with the beach all to themselves. From 2:34pm to 3:50pm, we watched and listened as they chuffed, whistled and socialised together to their heartsÕ content. We caught some beautiful footage on both cameras, and watched them track back to the west once theyÕd had their fill. Just as the A54s finished rubbing, we received a report of the A50s off Penfold Islet out in Queen Charlotte Strait at 4pm. No news of any new groups with them - darn! They would make their way steadily east over the next few hours, as the A54s trouped up the Strait again, coming in for a brief rub at Kaizumi at 5:54pm. Back-and-forth is the order of their day! Just before 6pm we picked up the faintest of echolocation in Blackfish Sound, and could see them far away on our Flower Island camera. The A50s were back in range. For the next few hours they stayed in the Sound, fighting an ebb flowing out of Blackney Pass trying to make progress. There were no more calls from the A54s past 7:40pm. The last we knew of this group was that they were off Kaikash on the Vancouver Island side still moving slowly west. so it was unclear as to their later evening movements. Beautiful sounds under a soft, starry sky were the order of the day as the two families figured out their plans. Whether via Weynton or Blackney, the wish of the A50s to reunite was eventually fulfilled, and the two groups were to find themselves together in Johnstone Strait once more.

OrcaLab
14 Aug 2022 09:04:23 PDT