Superb sounds!!

A23s rubbing at Strider! https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

OrcaLab
12 Aug 2020 16:29:31 PDT



Distant calls audible.

August 11 2020 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A23s, A25s, A4s (very likely A35s, A73s, A56) The inky silence of night was broken at 2:34am last night, as a humpback began to vocalize in Blackfish Sound. Under a starry sky, he/she began to produce some truly haunting sounds at 2:50am which lasted on and off for a good twenty minutes. Humpback song in the heart of summer is always a welcome acoustic addition to the many orca calls! Shortly before 3:30am we began to hear very faint A30 calls in Johnstone Strait; A4s very shortly after in the same space. Ah-ha! The A4s had come back from the east. Although we did not see them, we believe this to be all of the A35s, A73s and A56. Their calls were spread out along the length of the Strait, bouncing between both Main and Kaizumi Rubbing Beaches, which are separated by a good few miles. That is always the tricky part of acoustics - some of our hydrophones have such a good range that establishing the orcas’ exact location can be difficult. Nonetheless, we were certain that the A30s and A4s were all moving east as the day began to break. At 6:50am we saw a few fins at Strider Rubbing Beach via our remote camera, but they were travelling suredly west and did not come in to rub. We identified A72 (Bend) of the A50s and A77 (Roller) of the A35s, so the groups were mixed in with one another. We heard very faint A5 calls around the same time at 7:20am, but we did not really hear them again in this passing or see any distinctive A5 members on camera. The orcas swiftly made their way west along the Vancouver Island shore, arriving at Kaizumi Rubbing Beach around 8:30am, where they proceeded to have a long, presumably enjoyable, rub! There was some brilliant echolocation and A4 calls as these whales made the most of the smooth, stoney sea floor. We didn’t hear any close A30 calls for the duration of the 20 minute rub, so it’s possible they did not come as close to the beach this time. We heard their faint calls leading towards Cracroft Point, as the A4s left the beach and our hydrophone range - heading west - just before 9am. The A30s continued to draw closer to Cracroft Point, and by 9:14am we could see them on our remote camera. Around the same time, we received a report from Lance Barrett-Lennard that he could see the A23s and A25s heading west in Johnstone Strait, just past the Sophia Islands. This ties up the mystery of the lone A5 calls we heard earlier - these groups had taken the Cracroft side west, as opposed to the Vancouver Island shore. The A30s foraged for a little while, before moving into Blackney Pass at 9:37am. We initially thought that we had just the A50s, but after way too many fins popped up in front of us, we realized we must have the A54s too! So great to see them all together. They took their time, all spread out, spending over an hour in Blackney Pass until they cleared into Blackfish Sound around 10:45am. We heard some lovely calls from them, whilst we received a report that the A23s and A25s had been seen heading west along Hanson in Johnstone Strait. Perhaps playing catch-up with the A4s? The A30 calls played on and off in Blackfish Sound as the afternoon wore on. We were fairly certain that they had continued west, as the calls had all but stopped by 1pm. Nope! So very wrong. At 3pm we noticed lots of fins coming into our view, pretty close to the lab. They had turned around - and brought the A23s with them! They made a grand total of zero calls as they travelled into Johnstone Strait and headed east, close together in a resting line. It wasn’t until 5:24pm when we started picking up some echolocation in the Strait. Good thing everyone at the lab always has an ear and an eye on the water! We didn’t see the A25s with them, but received a report that they were seen near Bold Head just west of us around the time that the other groups passed us. It is possible they slipped by under our gaze, but we think it is more likely they continued west ‘solo’ or perhaps joined the A4s. Around the same time, Megan had finally arrived at the outpost on Cracroft Point where she’ll stay for a few days - and she saw Argonaut the humpback not too far off the platform. Just in time to see the orcas passing, too! The A30s foraged all the way east into Robson Bight, and just before 6pm we saw some fins on Strider Rubbing Beach. Their commitment to the beach seemed a little tentative to begin with, and we were unsure whether they would come in for a full rub. Fortunately for us, they did! We identified several members of the A30s enjoying the beach for about half an hour. Some made it as far east as the Main Rubbing Beach, and some turned back west to forage some more in Robson Bight. As we lost the light of day, we continued to monitor their calls - both A30 and A5 - between Main Rubbing Beach and Critical Point (in Robson Bight) from 6:40pm to 11pm. It seems there has been a little back-and-forth as the orcas make the most of their space in the Ecological Reserve. We last heard A5 calls on Main Rubbing Beach at 10:31pm - perhaps they have now gone further east again for the night? At the time of writing - 11:13pm - we still have faint A30 calls on Critical Point, suggesting that at least some of the orcas are still looking for a fish supper. Now, in comes a tug boat through Johnstone Strait and we will possibly lose “sight” of the orcas for a little while. Let’s see where they are once it passes!

Suzie
11 Aug 2020 23:39:32 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Beautiful sounds right now as the A30s forage in Robson Bight, with the A5s a little further east! http://www.orca-live.net/community/

Orcalab
11 Aug 2020 22:15:36 PDT



Multiple pod calls audible.

We have the A50's heading north through Blackney Pass right now. We think the A4's continued to the west early this morning. The A23's and A25's are still in the strait. Watch live on Explore:https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
11 Aug 2020 09:50:31 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Rather nice humpback at the moment in Blackfish Sound. As you listen here is the day's summary: August 10 2020: A50s, A23s, A25s,HB: Argonaut, PWD The night was interesting but not because of the activity of the orcas.More on that later. Quite sure wherever the orcas got up to during the night it was interesting for them but for us it was fairly uneventful. We did hear their faint calls from midnight to 12:41am and sporadically through the early morning hours at 3:03am and again at 4:12am. They did not seem to have any clear direction and the calls could only be described as faint. Morning came and with it the welcomed sight of A61 and others (possibly the rest of the A25s) approaching the Main Rubbing Beach from the east. Aha! They had gone east afterall and were now coming back. Ahead of A61 and already at Strider Rubbing Beach were the A50s and the A23s. A61 turned into the Main Beach and had a brief rub. He then moved off to Strider Beach. Soon,and by 7:01am everyone was heading away from Strider and travelling “up” the Vancouver Island shore towards Robson Bight and beyond. As their calls became close on Kaizumi Rubbing Beach at 8:47am, Megan noticed the humpback Argonaut by the Parson Island Light. With the orcas demanding so much of our attention the self sufficient humpbacks in Blackney Pass have somewhat faded into the background these days. They are present most days, usually on the far side of the Pass. Today, however, was a bit different for the number of breaches throughout the day and for the vocals from an individual on the Parson Island hydrophone at 4:10pm. By 9:30am the orcas, meanwhile, had crossed over to the Cracroft Island side and began to forage. Unlike the day before the foraging was less intense and by 10:20am they started to head into Blackney Pass. We were able to follow them on the Parson Island, Sea Lion and OrcaLab base remote cameras as they travelled through. A60 was pretty much in the lead. The rest of the A23s were closer to the far shore along with Bend (A72) and Jamieson (A108), A61 came in with his group and the rest of the A50s travelled closer to the Hanson Island shore. These small groupings kept form and by 11:10am everyone was in Blackfish Sound where they engaged in more serious foraging for the next few hours. We could hear their calls, never really close, but at times slightly louder as they shifted positions around Blackfish Sound in pursuit of salmon. The calls ended around 1:22pm when they moved into Weynton Pass. At 2:53pm we picked up their calls soon after they entered Johnstone Strait. Megan happened to be in Telegraph Cove by this time and when leaving she noticed A60. The blows of the others could be seen heading east toward Blinkhorn. As the whales continued east we began to hear their calls at 3:05pm on Cracroft Point. A mark as to how far they had come. The aforesaid vocal humpback diverted our attention away from the faint orca calls for a short while. Just before 6pm, the orcas stole the show once again. Coming in close to Kaizumi Rubbing Beach the A50s (A30s) began a really good rub! The sounds were crystal clear; every pebble, every whistle, every call. It was great! By 6:30pm they were done and moving east again. Both groups approached the Bight, with the A5s leading. By 7:30pm orcas were approaching Strider Rubbing Beach. First A5 calls followed by A30 calls. The whales divided their attention between the two beaches. At 7:47pm there was a rub at Main. A60 was there. At 8:06pm there was a rub at Strider. The general movement was east and after a sudden short burst of close calls on Main Beach the game was over and the whales carried on. A few dolphin calls on Critical Point occurred at 9:12pm. Then it was quiet until 10:46pm when a brief bout of echolocation was heard. This was followed by close A30 calls at 10:57pm. The last calls, not as close, were at 11:05pm. Day done! But that brings me back to why the previous evening was so interesting. At 10:07pm, Jennifer heard and recorded some quite different vocalisations. We spent part of today trying to figure out who. The debate included the possibility of a Risso dolphin. Quite rare, but not unheard of, in these inside waters. Apparently they like hanging out with Pacific Whitesided dolphins (who wouldn’t?) and that there have been quite a few sighted recently, albeit, not here but in their more usual haunts off the west coast etc. We are hoping that someone will be able to tell us if our guess is correct and if not, at least, who it was we were listening to. These mysteries always seem to happen at night!

Helena
11 Aug 2020 03:03:46 PDT



We have orca rubbing at Strider right now!Watch live at https://www.explore.org/livecams/oceans/orcalab-base

Orcalab
10 Aug 2020 19:45:26 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Lovely A30 calls and rubbing sounds in Johnstone Strait right now!

Orcalab
10 Aug 2020 18:16:37 PDT



Distant calls audible.

August 9 2020: A50s, A54s, A23s, A25s, HB, PWD Throughout the night the A30s and A5s continued to move around the Strait vacillating between the Reserve to just a bit further west. They did not have a lot to say, their calls remained faint and non committal. They were still very low energy after the excitement of the previous night. This pattern carried on to 4:17am when the A30s made a sightly greater effort closer to Kaizumi Beach. Afterwards they all must have drifted off to the east and the rest of the early morning was quiet. There may have been a call or two just before 10am. But at 11:37am their activity took a more concrete turn when we heard and saw a few individuals off the Main Rubbing beach heading west. Whales appeared at Strider Beach at 11:57am but the general sense of things was west bound. By 12:14pm they were approaching Robson Bight. Once in the Bight they could be seen foraging. This was going to be the theme for the day! Foraging, foraging and more foraging. Their strategy for doing so saw the A50s escorted by the A23s and A25s up to Cracroft Point and into Blackney Pass where they travelled north to Blackfish Sound from 2:14pm to 3:07pm. There was even some foraging on the way by the A50s during which the A23s and A25s returned to Johnstone Strait where they engaged in some serious foraging of their own until the A54s joined them Strait side (where had they been?) at 6:25pm and the A50s rejoined everyone after travelling south back through Blackney Pass at 7:03pm. By 7:22pm, the A50s, altogether reached the Strait. The others leaved off their foraging and followed their example. The whales crossed diagonally toward the Vancouver Island shore. The A30s went over to Kaizumi Beach where they had an extended rub starting at 8:15pm. Once done everyone headed to the Bight. The A30s were first followed by the A5s. By now, everyone seemed refreshed by their night’s relaxation and daytime foraging. There was renewed energy in their calls once again. It may be an interesting night. A couple of notes: Just before Noon we learned that the A4s (the A35s, the A73s and most likely A56) were all the way east near Quadra Island. This means that after yesterday’s rub at Strider Beach they must have continued eastward and gone through Seymour Narrows. What a journey! Somewhat unusual for this group. Kudos to Jennifer who thought she saw whales heading east as she managed the Strider Beach camera controls and kudos also to Megan who spotted Springer in the crowd at the rubbing beaches. We also learned that the Rs included the R18s and R13s and that it was possible others too (as we suspected based on the size of the R group we were watching) as the rest of the Rs were seen yesterday out by Numas Island by Graeme Ellis. Thanks to Lance Barrett-Lennard for relaying this information and contributing to the confirmation of the R18s and R13s.

OrcaLab
09 Aug 2020 22:14:37 PDT



Orcas near mics.

We have the A50's heading south in Blackney Pass. Watch live:https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Megan
09 Aug 2020 19:05:39 PDT



Multiple pod calls audible.

The A23s and A25s are foraging and calling off CP, and the A30s are in Blackfish Sound.Watch live: https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Paul
09 Aug 2020 15:49:13 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

We have a group of orca heading north in Blackney pass. Likely the A30's and the A5's although they have not been very chatty in a long while. Watch live athttps://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
09 Aug 2020 14:30:23 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

August 8 2020: A30s, A23s, A25s, A4s, R05s, R13s, R18s, HB, PWD Ok! So, it is the middle of the night. Midnight passes, very quiet, uneventful. AND THEN! Distant Rs heard at 12:22am. This was a major surprise. The phones lit up with OMGs and many exclamation marks! Megan was on shift, Helena about to start. It had been two years since Rs had come this way. More commonly found on the North Coast or even Southeast Alaska they are considered very special visitors indeed. As one of three clans (A,G,R) which make up the Northern Resident orca community they have their own distinctive calls that set them apart and family lineages that consist of several matrilines. There are currently over 50 members of this clan. Historically, we could count on a visit each year by at least some of the R groups. Recently, the visits have become rarer. Even though they do not share any common call types with either of the other two clans of the Northern Residents this does not impede upon their ability to communicate or exercise the strong bonds which tie these groups together as a community. It is always a mystery just how the groups coordinate over seemingly vast distances. We last heard the A30s and the A5s off the eastern end of the Reserve. They were still in that general area when the Rs turned up in Blackfish Sound. These are two acoustically and geographically separate locations. Why then did the A30s and A5s seemingly know to start to come west “up” the Strait just at that time? As the Rs continued gradually coming closer in Blackfish Sound the A30s and the A5s travelled past Robson Bight, past Kaizumi and came nearer and nearer the entrance to Blackney Pass. Within this timeframe we became aware that the Rs were not travelling alone. Accompanying them were A4s. As these two groups beautifully exchanged calls in Blackfish Sound, the A4s pulled ahead of the Rs and entered Blackney Pass just after 2am. Their calls shifted to the Parson Island hydrophone and their blows could be heard over toward the Parson Island Light. The Rs remained in Blackfish Sound a while longer. By now the A30s were further along and the convergence of the groups was becoming a stronger reality. At 2:38am blows by the southbound groups in Blackney Pass could be heard along the Parson Island shore. The Rs now were gradually making way while part of the A4 group had already entered Johnstone Strait and were directly exchanging calls with the westbound A30s and A5s. From 2:50am on, the Rs were navigating and calling their way through to Johnstone Strait as well. Expecting a huge burst of excitement the opposite happened. The whales fell silent. Just Pacific Whitesided dolphins, who have been skirting around the orcas of late, were briefly vocal off Cracroft Point. Time must have been of the essence. The A5s turned quickly back east ahead of everyone else at 3:05am. The rest followed their lead. Over the next hour the groups settled into an eastward movement and became somewhat vocal. By now they were further away from any of the hydrophones and the calls were not particularly close. This may have disguised their excitement but the loud percussive bangs of either tail or pectoral slaps did not! Startling actually. What were they doing out there? Progress, however, was made and by 4:24am we detected the first echo location on the Robson Bight hydrophone at Critical Point. Just after 5am the Main Rubbing Beach hydrophone was picking up calls as the whales slipped past the Bight on their way to the rubbing beaches. Over the next hour, from 5:19am to 6am, the whales, including the Rs, were at Strider Beach rubbing. The Main Beach also saw some activity from some of the Rs and A4s between 5:53am and 6:23am. But the A30s and the A5s soon signalled it was time to head back to the west. Between 6:30am and 7:30am the whales travelled west once again toward the entrance of Blackney Pass. There was time enough for the A30 to have another rub at Kaizumi Beach at 7:19am. The camp at Boat Bay on the Cracroft Island shore saw a group of eight pass them at 7am. By 7:38am whales were arriving at the entrance of Blackney Pass after crossing the Strait from the Vancouver Island shore. The current was about to change to the ebb at 7:48am. The A30s and the A5s entered our view by 8am. What unfolded next was remarkable to watch. Basically we witnessed a long good-bye which resulted in the Rs leaving and the A30s and A5s returning to the Strait. Sorry to say we lost track of the A4s and cannot say what they actually did. Compelling to believe they were still with their nighttime companions and just lost, to us, in the crowd of whales on the very far shore. What stood out was how the whales performed this gentle farewell by floating on the surface for long periods and changing direction back and forth. Eventually, it was all sorted out and the Rs were sent on their way to Blackfish Sound before 9am. The A30s and A5s turned and pushed against the tide all the way back to Johnstone Strait. How extraordinary! The Rs & Co had come from so very far away only to spend just a few hours with the A30s and A5s. And the Rs kept going. We followed their progress throughout the day. By 1pm they were a mile off Bere Point in Queen Charlotte Strait and a short while later between Numas and Malcolm Point, still favouring the Malcolm Island side. They were headed west and away! Meanwhile, the “Cliff” observers saw the A30s and the A5s, now back in the Strait, cross over to Kaizumi Beach at 10:16am. Ten minutes later their calls were close and they began a rub. This lasted to approximately 10:49am. Afterwards, the Cliff reported that the A50s (A30s), the A23s, and the A25s were headed east along the Vancouver Island shore. Another group of 8, not identified, headed into the Reserve. The Cliff wondered if this was the A54s (A30s). No A4 calls were heard then or before when the Rs had passed into Blackfish Sound. Their whereabouts remained an unsolved mystery throughout the day. We did hear the A30s and A5s arrive in the Bight by 11:30am and watched them file past the eastern headland from 11:43am onwards. They approached Strider Beach at 11:57am. At Noon they went for a rub. They toggled a bit between Strider and Main but the majority of their time was spent at Strider. Once again dolphins accompanied them by dashing and skirting all around. The orcas remained at the beaches past 12:44pm. Then it was off to the west yet again. From 12:54pm to 1:14pm the A30s and A5s crossed the Bight. By 3:47pm these whales were approaching Cracroft Point but by then their intentions became somewhat fuzzy for us. We last heard calls, still in the Strait, at 6:49pm. We believe they may have continued west. But their trail went somewhat cold. At 8:49pm, there were a few calls on the Kaizumi Beach system and we wondered if they had turned and were eastbound once again. In our imaginations we pictured very sleepy whales tired out by this brief but intense visit. It was a long day for us too and we could sympathize entirely!

Helena
09 Aug 2020 04:06:46 PDT



Distant calls audible.

Whales at Strider rubbing right now! http://explore.org/live-cams/player/orcalab-base

OrcaLab
08 Aug 2020 12:20:12 PDT



Superb sounds!!

We currently have some of the A5's rubbing at the strider rubbing beach. We are hearing A1 and A5 calls on Critical point and we are hearing A4 and R calls a very short time ago on our Main rubbing beach hydrophone. An exciting night has unfolded into day! Head over to Explore to watch as this morning unfolds!https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Megan, Jenn and Paul
08 Aug 2020 05:26:12 PDT



Multiple pod calls audible.

The A4s turned up with the Rs in Blackfish Sound and led them into Johnstone Strait where they are just now meeting up with the A30s and A5s who came west to meet them. just getting going again after waiting out the boat noise in the Strait.

Helena
08 Aug 2020 03:25:56 PDT



Superb sounds!!

The R's are here! Such an exciting moment to hear R clan here on our hydrophones for the first time in over two years, Coming nearer! And, we also have the A30's and the A5's coming up from the east! Just as the day turns to another, exciting times ahead, will they all meet in the middle?

Megan and Helena!
08 Aug 2020 00:43:47 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

August 7 2020 Orcas: A50s, A23s and A25s As ever, our clarity came after a short waiting game. The A30s made it as far east as Kaizumi Rubbing Beach last night, before turning back to the east and reaching Robson Bight by 12:30am. We heard them catching a bite to eat with some lovely, clear echolocation sounds, and by 1:46am the A23s and A25s had joined them. All groups could distinctly be heard on our Main Rubbing Beach and Critical Point hydrophones, suggesting that they were spread out and intermingled along the length of the Ecological Reserve. Our sleepy yet contented lab assistants monitored their dwindling throughout the night, and we last heard one A30 call faintly off the Main Rubbing Beach at 5am. All orcas had headed east, and stayed out of our range for a good portion of the day. The weather for the past few days has been highly changeable - as many come to expect from the BC coast - and after yesterday’s sunshine we were smothered in rain and wind today, with a southeasterly wind rolling in. Despite the gloomy conditions, we are always very eager to see rain as the forest is rejuvenated, and our water stores replenished. The orcas made a move back from the east around 1:30pm, when we started to hear their lunchtime echolocation clicks around Robson Bight. They travelled west to Kaizumi Rubbing Beach, with a brief rub at 2:29pm, before crossing over Johnstone Strait to Cracroft Point by 3pm. There, we watched them foraging in the impressive riptide for a good few hours! Despite the choppy waters, we could ID the orcas quite well via our remote camera. We identified all of the A25s, A60 from the A23s and A72, A84, A50 and her baby from the A50s. We are certain that all of these families were present, confirmed acoustically by their continued calls. Around 4.30pm, it looked like they were really trying to come into Blackney Pass, but they were pushed back again and again by the strong flooding currents. Either that, or they were just having fun travelling against such a rush of water! They made a few attempts, before riding the tide back to the east past Cracroft Point. We caught some lovely footage of all of them travelling together just after 5pm. The three families made their way back across the Strait to Kaizumi, had another rub at 5:48pm and continued eastward back to Robson Bight. We saw two orcas on our Strider Rubbing Beach camera and were hopeful that we’d be in for another rubbing spectacle, but tonight they decided to carry on their way east - perhaps tired from a long day of back-and-forth and battling currents? All travelled eastward, once again spread out and intermingled by the varying amplitudes of their calls, and we heard what we thought was the last of them at 8:22pm. At 9:05pm, however, we heard one more set of calls and caught sight of a couple of orcas on our Main Rubbing Beach cam, heading east. Ah - the stragglers. “Wait for me!” One imagines them calling... We have now lost the light, so we’ll once again leave it up to our ears to discern the movements of these very resident Northern Residents over night!

Suzie
07 Aug 2020 21:38:31 PDT



Distant calls audible.

August 6 2020 A30s, A23s A25s, HB, PWD It never ceases to amaze how a straight forward orca day becomes complicated and long regardless. August 6 began with the A30s and A5s in Blackfish Sound. It took them until 2:39am before they moved on to Queen Charlotte Strait and their calls disappeared. Not in any particular hurry it seems but something urged them on. Hours would pass before there were any reports about their whereabouts. At 10:20am word came that there were yet to be identified orcas off Malcolm Point foraging. Just a few. By 11:49am the general trend was eastward. A61 may have been spotted further east just before this. Noon passed and the majority of the whales had yet to cross Bere Point on Malcolm Island. Then the big news! That there were at least 25 orcas together heading east off Bere Point. Just after 3pm a group was seen heading east in Blackfish Sound on the Swanson Island side and before long the A30s were in our view traveling in two groups, enough perhaps for both matrilines to be present. They all cleared our view by 3:23pm and continued on toward Johnstone Strait. Happy campers! Relaxed, breaching, vocalising they reached Johnstone Strait, paused and began to mill, pacing back and forth in front of Cracroft Point. We guessed they might have been waiting. Sure enough just before 4pm the A5s (the A23s and A25s) showed up in Blackney Pass from Blackfish Sound. The A30s became excited off Cracroft Point anticipating their arrival. The A5s were out of view by 4:09pm and well on their way to the A30s. The whales reorganised themselves and everyone headed east toward the Reserve . The A5s paused for a rub at Kaizumi at 5:04pm. Their calls were loud and close for a while. They were well on their way by 5:23pm. They passed Robson Bight in favour of heading to the beaches. At 7:02pm we could see orcas on the remote Strider Rubbing Beach camera. They had arrived!! And they were not going to go anywhere until after a very long rub both at Strider and Main Rubbing Beaches. While orcas stayed at Strider others went east to the Main Beach at 7:36pm and began a rub there. The whales continued to divide their attention between the two beaches until at least 8pm. Then there was a breakaway group who ventured back towards Robson Bight. However, rubbing still continued past 9pm. But by now it was too difficult to see anything on the cameras and we went back to relying on the hydrophones. We were still hearing mostly distant calls past 10pm on the Main Rubbing Beach system. A quick check a while later and we noticed that calls were being registered on the Kaizumi spectrogram display as well. That A30 group who had ceased rubbing and gone west to the Bight were now further along but not far enough for the Cracroft system to fully pick up their calls. We think they may have turned back east just after Kaizumi. Meanwhile, the others were very distant on the Main Rubbing beach hydrophone. Have they gone east? Are the others following? So much for this seemingly straightforward day, complications and question in the end after all. Time will tell.

OrcaLab
07 Aug 2020 00:55:06 PDT



We have whales rubbing on the Strider rubbing beach camera. Head to Explore.org to watch live.https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
06 Aug 2020 19:09:52 PDT



August 5 2020 Orcas: A30s, A5s (likely 23s/25s) Humpbacks: Squiggle “Do orcas sleep at night?” One of the questions most frequently asked by keen and curious minds. And anyone who has ever been at OrcaLab on a night-shift will fervently respond: “Absolutely not!” Our night was perpetuated with the calls of the A30s and A5s (likely A23s/25s), who began calling in Johnstone Strait around Kaizumi Rubbing Beach at 10:30pm. They drifted towards Hanson Island and began producing some really crazy, vibrant calls on Parson Island at 11:25pm. This lasted for a good while as the orcas meandered into Blackney Pass, upstaged slightly by a harrumphing humpback in Blackfish Sound at 11:40pm. They passed in front of the lab all spread out under a moonlit sky, and some had entered Blackfish Sound by 1:11am. There was not any major boat noise, so perhaps they were enjoying the silent space to scavenge and sing to their hearts’ content. At this point, we believe all groups turned round - as we heard no more calls in Blackfish Sound, but we registered them back in east Blackney Pass by 1:53am. There was a flooding current at the time, so maybe they decided it was best to “go with the flow” as they say, rather than fight it? Whatever their reasons for this about-turn, both A30s and A5s headed straight back into Johnstone Strait, travelling east. Their calls were intermittent and distant for a while, but by 3:17am we were hearing excited calls and echolocation on our hydrophone in Robson Bight. We captured some amazing close high-pitched whistles as they travelled ever-east, and by 4am they had made it to the Main Rubbing Beach, but sounded fainter a little offshore. They continued to call and echolocate at the east end of the Reserve, and at 4:30am they were once again joined by the groans and grunts of a humpback in Blackfish Sound. We are “in the middle” of the two locations; who knows if each species could hear one another, separated by several miles of island and sea… The A30 calls became briefly louder at 5:36am, and we believe they had turned and headed back to the west, although it was several hours until our suspicions were confirmed. In the misty light of dawn, Squiggle the humpback came fairly close to the lab and proceeded to breach and “head bang” for over fifteen minutes! Who knows his reasons for such acrobatics. Whatever they were, he had the space all to himself and it was a delight to watch. At 11:13am we started hearing faint orca calls once more in Johnstone Strait, between Robson Bight and Kaizumi beach. Their calls came fairly intermittent and distant - story of the day it seems - as they travelled west in Johnstone Strait. By 1:52pm we could hear them on Cracroft Point, and could see them on our remote camera a little while after. We managed to identify A61 with his recognizable left-bendy dorsal fin tip at 2:09pm. We watched them foraging in the famous east Blackney rip-tide, and hoped they would catch a wave into the Pass. Their calls blipped in and out as they battled some terrible boat nose in the area for a couple of hours, an unfortunately regular occurrence at this location, as tug boats, whale watching boats and fishing boats make the most of this prime waterway. At 3:45pm we received a report that the orcas had been resting in the entrance to Blackney Passage, but had since turned and headed to the east once more, towards Robson Bight. The rain started to pour thick and fast, so we had no hope of finding them on our remote cameras. After a couple of wet, silent hours, we picked them up faintly on Critical Point at 5:34pm, and then a little while later at 6:27pm distant at the Main Rubbing Beach. They travelled westward, close past Critical Point in Robson Bight, and our patience was finally rewarded, when at 8:38pm they opened up and began calling with some beautiful sounds at Kaizumi Rubbing Beach. We even heard the sound of jangling pebbles as they stopped in at the beach for a rub! They didn’t hang around at the beach for too long, and they crossed over Johnstone Strait angling into Blackney Pass around 9:20pm. It was just too dark to see them as they passed in front of the lab, but Quin managed to hear their blows despite the heavy, pounding rain. The A30s and A5s are still together, calling in Blackfish Sound to welcome the night.

Suzie
05 Aug 2020 21:57:45 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Some really beautiful calls coming from the A30's and the A5's as they travel to the east in Robson Bight!

Orcalab
05 Aug 2020 03:40:32 PDT



No orcas present.

August 4 2020: A50s, ?A54s,A25s,A23s, HB Easy Riders! I’ll explain soon. But before this let’s begin where we left off. After midnight the A30s and the A5s were some distance away off the eastern end of the Reserve. By 1:30am their calls had finally faded away as the whales went out of range of our hydrophone network. Two and a half hours later they started coming back into range. They were still probably beyond the eastern boundary of the Reserve but now coming west. The two groups, the A30s and the A5s were still together. By 6:30am calls were getting louder and echolocation was a hint that the whales were pointed toward the Main Rubbing Beach. A short while later, at 6:40am, we saw a single orca on the remote camera passing the Main Beach. In a hurry too! Seven minutes later several orcas were approaching Strider Beach which is just west of the Main Beach. There they paused, having a rub from 6:49 to 6:55am before continuing west toward Robson Bight. By 7:12am we were hearing lovely close A30 calls as those whales moved into the Bight. They were finding food as they ventured deep into the Bight. Their blows were pretty in the morning light and the Bight was clear enough to follow them. Fog threatened our views in other locations, especially Blackney Pass. We got a report from the Sophias kayak camp that two small groups passed fairly close on their way to Cracroft Point. At the same time across the Strait we were listening to other whales close in on Kaizumi Rubbing Beach almost directly opposite on the Vancouver Island shore. he calls were close and at 8:26am there was some rubbing activity at the beach. By this time Blackney Pass was down to zero visibility. A humpback, at 8:44am could be heard blowing not far off the Lab but there was no chance of seeing. Around this time the orca groups who had passed the Sophia Island camp were just past Cracroft Point. By luck they were caught on the remote camera heading into Blackney Pass. They made a few calls but it was all business, they were determined, travelling fast on the now ebbing tide. Easy riders, going with the flow. Before long we were hearing blows passing north and soon the first calls in Blackfish Sound. The calls disappeared by 9:45am as soon as the whales headed into Queen Charlotte Strait. Time passed, the tide changed and at I:24pm we started to hear their distant calls once again in Blackfish Sound. They were coming back. Quin had a look and found them using the Sea Lion remote camera which can see into Blackfish Sound. Just a moment of two later they came into view. The afternoon sun had done its job of clearing away the fog. We could clearly see the groups file through. Most were mid channel and swimming in a leisurely fashion, clearly relaxed. A60s tall fin stood out. The groups were mixed but we figured we had the A50s and A23s. We struggled a bit whether there were enough whales for the A54s to be there as well and just as we began to wonder where the A25s were they entered Blackney Pass together closer to the Hanson Island side. Cordero (A85) and her baby, Twilight, were in close with Surge (A61). The others had already cleared our view and were headed to Johnstone Strait. A quick change in time to the Cracroft Point remote camera showed the whales emerging into the Strait. A humpback, also headed that direction, was not too far behind. From Cracroft Point at 3pm the groups headed eastward once again encouraged by the tiden. Just over an hour later they were passing Critical Point once again (4:23pm). Twenty minutes later they were at the Strider Rubbing Beach. They would stay there for the better part of an hour. We still cannot get over the images from this camera. Everyone ends up in the Lab, shift or no shift, watching transfixed. If the whales only knew! A few even went “down” to Main for a quick 5 minute rub at 5pm but they headed back quickly to join the fun with the others back at Strider. You get the picture. Around 5:49pm a restlessness set in and some of the whales started to leave to the west. One last turn did it and by 5:55pm all the whales were heading away. A60 trailed behind. On a curious note we did not see A61’s little group. However, at 6:23pm, we had a report that they were mid strait off Boat Bay (opposite the rubbing beaches), rather out of step but going west too. By the time the other groups made it to the Bight again A60 had caught up. From 6:12pm to 6:17pm the calls were excited, the whales were breaching and travelling fairly fast as they crossed the Bight. From there it was back to Kaizumi for another rub at 7:14pm which interrupted their general movement to the west only momentarily. Our last treat of the day was to see A61’s group heading west at 7:27pm opposite Cracroft Point. The ride was over for the time being. It is now 10pm and we have not had any calls for the longest time. The tide ebbing so perhaps they are still going with it, fitting with the theme for the day, easy riding.

OrcaLab
04 Aug 2020 22:35:46 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Great calls on Kaizumi Rubbing Beach right now!

OrcaLab
04 Aug 2020 19:16:27 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Some lovely excited calls right now from the A30's and A5's at Kazumi rubbing beach as the whales head back to the west!

Orcalab
04 Aug 2020 19:09:52 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Beautiful calls from the A30's and A23's and A25's in the bight right now.

Orcalab
04 Aug 2020 16:27:13 PDT



Superb sounds!!

August 3 2020: A30 (A50s A54s), A5s (A23s, A25s), T36,T36Bs, PWD One of the greatest pleasures of living and working at OrcaLab is being in the Lab by oneself during the early hours of the day. Outside dark and just a single conservative light to illuminate the working space inside. If and when lucky, calls and sounds of the whales pierce this envelope and carry your imagination out to their ocean world beyond. Last night was like this. Aware that the A30s in Blackfish Sound were beginning to shift back to Blackney Pass, as their calls passed from the Flower Island to Parson Island hydrophones, went outside to listen to their blows across the calm waters. Their steadily slow progress belied their excitement on nearing the entrance of Blackney Pass. What were they excited about this time? Had the A5s (the A23s and A25s) gone around the other way? At 10:25pm, when the whales had been exclusively calling in Blackfish Sound, a group of orcas were heard blowing off Double Bay. Time a plenty for this group to head through Weynton Pass and reenter Johnstone Strait via this route. Did they make it fast enough to be there in the Strait by the time the A30s negotiated their way through the final leg of Blackney Pass? The distant A5 calls in the Strait were compelling. Or did they just accompany the A30s as they had done all day? One final burst of excitement happened around 12:40am. The whales all headed east and the Johnstone Strait hydrophones picked up their calls, first and briefly Cracroft Point, then Kaizumi and Critical Point. Did not seem as if anyone was very close to any of these sources so perhaps the whales favoured mid strait for the first part of their journey. With Kaizumi totally engulfed by boat noise, Critical Point became the main source just in time as the whales now quickly moved closer to Vancouver Island and approached Robson Bight. From 1:36am to 2:19am the A30s were actually in the Bight. Beautiful, beautiful calls! Magic! As they slipped past the eastern headland of the Bight their calls could also be heard on the Main Rubbing beach system. By 2:27am all the whales were past Critical Point. Some already closer to the rubbing beaches. By 2:45am calls were close. The night had been one of constant movement all the way from Blackfish Sound, through Blackney Pass and now Johnstone Strait to the Ecological Reserve. Quite the journey sitting alone in the Lab being carried along by these amazing sounds. Their sojourn at the rubbing beaches lasted until 3:12am after which they collected themselves for the journey back to the west. Once again Critical Point did its job of registering their return to the Bight. As the whales trekked further west the A30s could be heard on the Kaizumi Beach hydrophone. As they crossed the width of the Strait Cracroft Point marked their progress. From some of the whales it was back to the entrance of Blackney Pass by 5:30am. The lead group did not hesitate but carried on into the Pass itself. The first blows could be heard at 5:37am. It was misty, it was foggy, it was drizzly so not really great visibility. It took a while longer for all the whales to move through. While the first group (part of the A30s) was passing the Lab there were still A30 and A5 groups in the Strait. Just before 6am there were once again beautiful calls as these last groups made it to Blackney Pass. During and after the passage of the orca families the calls shifted to Flower Island in Blackfish Sound until 6:21am. The whales left Blackfish pretty quickly for Queen Charlotte Strait where they spent the majority of the day. Our day picked up with the report of orcas off Donegal Head in the afternoon at 3:22pm. There had also been a report of orcas also at Pulteney headed toward the Port McNeill direction at 2:27pm. We had about an hour before we heard anything from the orcas themselves. At 4:21pm we began to hear A5 and A30 calls in Blackfish Sound. We actually located them on the remote camera by focusing on the cluster of boats following the whales. The whales were still some distance away. Forty-three minutes later they started to come into our view. A54 was perhaps first and moving quickly, baby beside her. Others followed and we could see by looking at the attitude of the boaters and kayakers to expect someone closer to the Hanson shore. Sure enough A60, Bend and others came “around” the corner. A61 was there following A85 and her young one a little further out. The light was lovely. The mists and fog of earlier had burned off replaced by sunny skies and warm breezes. It took them just to 5:40pm before they all cleared our view. They were set on Johnstone Strait and once reaching there they halted their quest eastwards by slowing down and milling off Cracroft Point, perhaps giving time to sort out their intentions. A group of Bigg’s (T36 with the T36Bs), first seen off Telegraph Cove at 5:39pm, were oKaikash Creek when they turned around after realising the proximity of the Resident orcas. By 6:08pm the A30s and A5s were decidedly heading east. Some came closer to Kaizumi Beach on Vancouver Island. From there the calls grew more and more distant until their approach to Robson Bight. By 8pm, they were definitely in the Bight. Calls and echo location became dramatically closer over the next hour. Main Rubbing Beach picked up the calls of the whales headed east from Robson Bight. By 8:48pm the whales arrived at Strider beach to begin a long involved rub. Our camera control became unworkable so we had to be satisfied with watching the scene from a single position. Still pretty good as there were lots of whales. By 9:30pm whales were still at Strider, and around this time we were hearing consistent calls on the Main Rubbing Beach. These calls persisted for a good while, the orcas seemed to be spread out along the Reserve as we could still hear distant calls on Critical Point until just after 10:30pm. The orcas have been very chatty as they have travelled, seemingly further offshore. At time of posting - 11pm - we are still hearing distant A30 calls up and down the length of Johnstone Strait, between Main Rubbing Beach and Kaizumi. Either they are hugely spread out, or the range of our new digital hydrophones is exceptional! We wait to see which direction they’ll pick as the night draws on, watched over by a rising full moon.

Orcalab
03 Aug 2020 23:00:30 PDT



Orcas near mics.

We have the A30's and A5's currently rubbing at strider rubbing beach! Watch live on explore main stream.

Orcalab
03 Aug 2020 21:01:30 PDT



Superb sounds!!

The A30's and A5;s are in the bight, lovely close calls!

Orcalab
03 Aug 2020 20:10:20 PDT



Superb sounds!!

The whales are back! Heading east in Blackfish Sound. Calls are picking up, nice to listen to for sure.

OrcaLab
03 Aug 2020 16:34:44 PDT



re the latest summary. It should read A109 or Fern as the young whale on the underwater camera.

OrcaLab
03 Aug 2020 08:18:41 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Close calls on Main Rubbing Beach!

Orcalab
03 Aug 2020 02:56:25 PDT



Superb sounds!!

The A30s have made it to the Bight, such nice calls - eliminated most boat noise !

OrcaLab
03 Aug 2020 02:00:40 PDT



Superb sounds!!

August 2 2020: A30s (A50s, A54s), A5s (A23s,A25s) The orcas slipped to the east during the night which meant it was a fairly uneventful night. The calls had ended around 10:30pm the previous night with just a hint of an eastward trend. As we only heard A30 calls we were left unsure of where the A23s and A25s had gotten to despite the fact they had been the A30s (A50s) companions for the day. The I15s, we were pretty sure had left the area. Around 1:25am a humpback was very close to the Flower Island hydrophone in Blackfish Sound, not really vocal, although there were a few “whups”, but impressively close, so much so, one could hear his movements causing the water to swirl. This lasted only a short while and this whale moved on. The rest of the night was quiet and daylight brought overcast skies, mist and eventually some welcomed rain. We did not hear of any reports of any orca activity so the day was preoccupied by regular routines, a few chores and a general catching up. Just before dinner was ready we were discussing what might of happened to the whales. Megan, who had been on during the last calls thought correctly they had gone east. As a consequence we did a quick check of the Main Rubbing Beach remote camera at 7pm. Orcas were spotted heading west about 200 meters offshore! This was lucky indeed! These whales did not appear to rub. However, Tomoko in Japan, scrolled back on the Main Beach underwater camera on explore.org and found the image of a whale hurrying close to shore. Megan later determined this was A90 or Fern, the healed wound on the back quite visible. As Strider is the next stop of interest we quickly checked the remote camera and sure enough whales were already rubbing. We thought that, instead of the expected A50s that these whales looked more like the A54s. The A54s had disappeared 4 days previously with no clue that they had returned so this was a surprise. Not a long rub and before long the whales carried on to the west. Kaizumi Rubbing enticed the parading A30/A5 groups and with many acrobatic vocals they went in for a rubbed at 8:30pm. Gradually, the calls began to fade away and we imagined that the whales had moved on to the west again. We had heard from the Warden camp at Boat Bay that they had seen the A50s pass by at 8:17 pm which is when we were hearing the other A30 group further west at Kaizumi Rubbing Beach. This gave more credence to the idea that the A54s had been the first A30 group travelling west up the Vancouver Island shore with the A5s. By now we began to get a sense of how far back the A50s were from the others. As the lead groups started to cross over to the entrance of Blackney Pass, the A50s were possibly crossing over closer to Vancouver Island, and making their way west toward Kaizumi. By 9:24pm, we were convinced that the A54s and A5s had decided to head into Blackney Pass. In the fog and diminishing evening light we could just see the whales as they passed. A60 was the easiest to identify. Before long these whales cleared into Blackfish Sound. The calls from the presumed A50s had now ceased in Johnstone Strait. Would they follow the others through Blackney Pass? The A5 calls dropped away after an intense bout of excitement. From 10pm onwards there were just A30 calls. Matchu at Double Bay mentioned later that some of the orcas were milling off the small islands of Double Bay at 10:25pm. There seemed to be a lot of foraging and the calls remained loud and clear on the Flower Island system with lots of echo location as well. Then just before 11pm some of the calls began to register in Blackney Pass on the Parson Island hydrophone and blows could be heard on the far side opposite. Midrange A30 calls continued in Blackfish Sound with an occasional call spilling into Blackney still. The A30s were beginning to shift back to Blackney Pass. By 11pm there were blows in the Pass as the A30s made their way southward slowly. Half an hour later the blows had not moved all that far and were spread out from mid Harbledown Island to Parson Island. Flashlights at the camp opposite began to dance in response to the whales passing on that side. It was raining again but the full moon behind the clouds was still offering light to the calm waters below. For the next hour the calls remained mostly on Parson Island with the occasional call heard on the Cracroft Point hydrophone in Johnstone Strait. Boat noise unfortunately once again spoiled the listening experience but the whales persisted regardless and continued toward Johnstone Strait. A lovely whale day after all! A quick postscript: Once the whales got into Johnstone Strait it became more obvious that the A5s had returned as well.

OrcaLab
03 Aug 2020 00:54:10 PDT



Superb sounds!!

The A30s (A54s) and A5s (A23s,A25s) are passing north through Blackney Pass. We believe the A50s will not be far behind.

OrcaLab
02 Aug 2020 21:41:59 PDT



Superb sounds!!

We have some amazing calls on our Kazumi rubbing beach hydrophone right now from the A30's and A5's!

Orcalab
02 Aug 2020 20:28:07 PDT



Orcas at Strider: https://explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

OrcaLab
02 Aug 2020 19:13:50 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Summary for August 1 2020: A50s, A23s, A25s, I15s, Bigg’s August now, and the orcas seem to have settled into routines. Personally, after a busy day, after a week away, coming home this evening, heading down Johnstone Strait with the sunset behind us and the whales not far away was such a familiar and warming experience. We were looking forward to getting back in step to the lovely rhythms, sights and sounds of summer. We soon found out that the day had been apparently long. Starting off at midnight, the orcas were in Blackney Pass, blows everywhere, as they moved through. A30s, A5s, I15s into Johnstone Strait by 1 am, efficient. From the entrance to Blackney Pass they made their way eastward toward the Ecological Reserve. In sequence, the calls were picked up by the Cracroft Point, Kaizumi (1:07am) and Critical Point (1:34am) and finally by Main Rubbing Beach (3:30am) hydrophones. The A30s were heard again off Robson Bight just before 5am. What once was a progression eastward was now going the opposite direction and with the order reversed. The I15s made it back to the entrance of Blackney Pass first by 5:34am. The A30s were behind but not by a whole lot, and the A5s were now last. This meant that the I15s (the I16s and I4s) were ready to come back into Blackney Pass by 5:44am. They were once again pretty efficient on the ebb tide and cleared our view by 6:02am. The A30s (the A50s) were still in the Strait negotiating their way west but by 6:12am they too reached the entrance of Blackney Pass and headed through at 6:22am. The A5s (the A23s and A25s) were a step behind now and at 6:23am they too headed to Blackfish Sound. Seven hours had passed since they had come into Blackney Pass. Constant movement but typical in summer. Calls were heard briefly in Blackfish Sound at 7:03am. The whales all travelled into Queen Charlotte Strait. At 10am they were reported off Lizard Point. A couple of hours passed during which the A30s were once again heard in Blackfish Sound. They had moved back eastward. During the next hour all the groups spread themselves across the “top” end of Blackfish Sound. By 1:30pm, it was reported that they had formed into a huge resting line and were drifting east mid channel. While the Lab was anticipating seeing them arrive once again a small group of Bigg’s orcas surprisingly caught their attention. The Bigg’s orcas did not linger but pushed through smartly at 1:34pm toward Johnstone Strait. Not to be outdone, the A30s (A50s), the A23s,and the A25s appeared at 1:54pm. They were followed by the I15s maintaining once again a similar order in the parade. More of the I15s arrived at 2:15pm. Perhaps all the I15 groups were now together. Had they rejoined in Queen Charlotte Strait? By 2:30pm all the orcas had cleared to Johnstone Strait. While the A30s and the A5s heard across to Vancouver Island and the Kaizumi Rubbing Beach, the I15s formed into a resting line once again off Cracroft Point. The A30s and A5s enjoyed a rub at Kaizumi at 2:52pm. From there they continued east along the Vancouver Island shore. An hour later we heard their close calls off Critical Point in Robson Bight. They had another destination in mind. By 4:15pm the A23s and the A25s went in for a rub at Strider Rubbing Beach. The A50s joined them at 4:36pm. It should be noted that there were some lovely close images of Fife (A60) at Strider. Twenty minutes later the whales began to leave off their rubbing activity and head west once again. We listened to their progress. By 5:08pm the A30s (closer) and the A5s (more distant) were heard off Robson Bight. Meanwhile further west, the I15s became evident on Cracroft Point again at 6:22pm. Between 6:28pm and 6:36pm they travelled north through Blackney Pass to Blackfish Sound. This time the others did not follow but kept to a westerly course “up” the Strait. They were reported off Blinkhorn at 7:23pm. By 8:11pm, orcas were seen coming out of Beaver Cove and turning eastward. As mentioned Paul and I were headed back to Hanson, taking Johnstone Strait, with its lovely early evening light and calm seas. From the opposite shore and some distance away we scanned briefly for the whales but missed and carried on home. Boat unloaded and supplies put away, the night began to close in when eventually A30 calls were heard off Kaizumi Rubbing Beach just after 10pm confirming that they had indeed continued east. The kayak camp at the Sophias heard blows on the Vancouver Island shore at 10:32pm and the last calls heard were at 10:35pm approximately. No A5 calls, no I15 calls. Perhaps change is in the air? The A30s, at least, are for now staying in the Strait as one day turns into another.

Helena
02 Aug 2020 00:26:18 PDT



Superb sounds!!

There are some pretty I15 calls on our hydrophones right now!

OrcaLab
01 Aug 2020 05:42:53 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Summary July 31st A30s, A23s, A25s, I15s The I15s returned in style, just before 11pm last night! We started hearing them in Blackfish Sound, and were very likely the group that Troy had reported off Bere Point a few hours before. Their calls were exuberant and excited as they passed in front of the lab. Quin went outside and had that magical experience of counting orca blows in the pitch darkness, under the night sky. By 12:42am they were heading into Johnstone Strait, and Quin also heard some tonal blows and vocalizations from a humpback in the same space. The humpback stole the show for a few minutes, perhaps competing against the chatty orcas? At 1:01am, we heard very faint A1 calls on Kazumi Rubbing Beach, and shortly after the I15s had joined them. The chattering stopped, and we heard on-and-off I15 calls heading east in Johnstone Strait until around 4am. Although we didn’t hear them, the A30s, A23s and A25s were very likely easting with them, as all groups spent the day far east down by Broken Islands and up to Eve River. We heard several reports over the VHF of their whereabouts over the day. It felt quite unusual to have them all so far east for so long, but we appreciated the break in calls to catch up on odd jobs and sleep! At 7:03pm we at last heard them on our Main Rubbing Beach hydrophone, traveling west again. We saw several orcas come in for a quick rub at Strider before continuing west into Robson Bight for some foraging around 7:45pm. We received a report from the Cliff on Cracroft Island that about 10-12 orcas were passing them, also headed west. The I15, A1 and A5 groups must have been intermingled and spread out in that case, as we were hearing loud calls from each pod in Robson Bight. They headed west and by 8:25pm were rubbing at Kazumi. We heard some amazing rubbing sounds and excited calls from all matrilines - it was seriously beautiful! This lasted for about half an hour, before they continued on their westward journey, calling as they went. There was a brief pause in calls as they traveled through Weynton Passage, but at 10:42pm we began to hear A30, A23 and 25, and I15 calls again in Blackfish Sound. We are still hearing those calls, and there was an amazing bout of hyper excitement at 11:15pm - perhaps new orcas coming in to the area? We wait and see!

Suzie
31 Jul 2020 23:57:13 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Summary July 30th 2020 Orcas: A30s, A4s, A23s, A25s, I15s The night wasn’t too busy, with a brief but powerful chorus from some Bigg’s orcas at midnight. Their calls really are so different! As the sun rose on the morning of the 30th, Suzie woke early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so got up at 5.30am. (A truly rare occurrence indeed.) The dawn light was beautiful, and as she wandered to the lab she heard the unmistakable sound of orca blows! There was a fairly large group, spread out and far away, backlit by some glorious orange and pink hues of morning. She noted the presence of several larger males, and one dorsal fin she really thought was A61 - but dismissed it as very unlikely. Nobody had confirmed A61 this year, even though the other two members of his matriline, A85 and A121, had been seen in the area in early July. At 5:41am they were calling in Blackfish Sound, and we identified A30 and A4 calls. No distinct A5 calls which may have given away that the A25s were indeed maybe present. These orcas continued west, and the A50s at least were seen at Bere Point on Malcom Island at 11:30am. Just after 4pm we received the hugely exciting news that A61 had been identified off Bere Point that afternoon too, meaning that it was very possible he was in Blackney Pass this morning. Hooray! So, so glad to hear him traveling with his family. We were getting just a little worried. Males do sometimes separate from their families and “go solo” for a while, and we wondered if this had something to do with the arrival of A85’s baby shifting the family dynamic. Who knows! Another question we’ll have to ask the orca one day… The afternoon was fairly quiet in Blackney Pass, pierced by some A1 and A5 calls in Blackfish Sound at 5:12pm. We had a good idea who to expect… We heard some lovely excited calls, and sure enough at 5:43pm there were orca heading south right in front of us. They battled the tide for a good long while, but it gave us a good chance to get ID’s! The A23s and A25s came first, and we all saw A61, A85 with little A121 Twilight, A60 Fife and the rest of the gang so clearly. At 6:05pm we were hearing close A30 calls and sure enough, the A50s came into view very close to us shortly after. All orcas were now right in front of us and there was an encouraging lack of boat traffic as they cruised by together. By 7:18pm some orcas had made it to Kazumi Rubbing Beach, and we believe it was a mixture of both pods as we had mixed calls, as well as some rubbing sounds! They continued east, and at 8:51pm they were at Strider Rubbing Beach, having a quick sunset rub there too. What busy, social lives they lead! All orcas headed east, and we saw the last fins on our remote camera at 9:53pm. Shortly before, Troy at Bere Point reported an unidentified group of 10-12 orcas with at least two males, heading east past them down the Malcom Island shore, towards our range...

Suzie
31 Jul 2020 23:56:29 PDT



Superb sounds!!

July 29th 2020 Orcas: A50s, A54s, A35s, A73s, A56 Apologies for the delay in posting summaries, our network has been down for a few days. We left you with a small mystery on the 28th, as we heard some echolocation and “squarky calls” in Blackfish Sound we couldn’t yet identify. Shortly before midnight, the orca opera finally opened up and we heard some really melodic A4 calls in Blackfish Sound. The groups, later confirmed as the A35s, A73s and A56, made their way through Blackney Pass under a starry sky, and into Johnstone Strait at 12:50am, joining the A30s who were around Kazumi Rubbing Beach. The A30s seemed to move east overnight, as we picked them up on our Main Rubbing Beach hydrophone at the eastern edge of the Ecological Reserve at 1:53am. We didn’t hear the A4s all night, so perhaps they stayed west. At 3:07am we heard our last clear A30 calls east in Johnstone Strait. By the morning, all groups had joined again at Kazumi and we woke up early to A4 and A30 calls at 7:03am. They all headed east this time, and by 9:22am they had reached Strider Rubbing Beach, where they proceeded to rub for two and a half hours! We believe all groups were there, as we counted so many whales. Megan has created a video of this amazing event which she posted a few days ago, please do take a look. After this surely exhausting morning of rub, rub, rub, they headed west again at midday and we heard them around Kazumi Rubbing Beach around 1:45pm. There was a lot of boat activity but we could just make out their calls, as they crossed Johnstone Strait and came towards Blackney Pass By 2.30pm we had them in our sights, they were very spread out and surrounded by quite a few vessels. One large vessel in particular was very close to the orcas and not mindful of their movements - but fortunately the coastguard was on the scene and alerted them to the whale watch regulations. We were encouraged that the boaters in question sincerely apologised and backed off the orcas. Just goes to show that there are always new people in the area year on year, and education is just as important now as it ever has been! By 2:54pm they had cleared into Blackfish Sound, and we listened to their dwindling calls among the grind of many boat engines. We lost them for a while but at 6:36pm they were back in Blackney - surprise! - heading south. We believe all groups were still present (A50s, A54s, A35s, A73s and A56) - and with many fewer boats present - they made some lovely calls as they entered Johnstone Strait and crossed to Vancouver Island. We believe at this point the A4s and A30s separated, and the A30s headed east down Johnstone Strait while the A4 groups headed west. The A30s had made it down to the rubbing beaches by 9:34pm, and the night fell silent for a while. Just before the darkness fell, we received a report from Kate at Bere Point that a small group of orcas were heading east. She suspected the A25s but the dwindling light made IDs difficult.

Suzie
31 Jul 2020 23:56:05 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Superb sounds from the A30's A23/A25's and I15s at the Kazumi rubbing beach right now!

Orcalab
31 Jul 2020 20:42:30 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Orca rubbing at Strider. Watch live athttps://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
31 Jul 2020 19:12:58 PDT



Absolutely beautiful I15 calls on Flower Island hydrophone right now!

OrcaLab
31 Jul 2020 00:09:14 PDT



Performing maintenance

Sorry everyone, we lost our internet connection yesterday, so have been unable to stream live audio or video. We hope to be be soon!

Paul
30 Jul 2020 07:04:45 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Amazing A4 calls right now in Blackfish Sound!

Suzie
28 Jul 2020 23:55:52 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Summary for July 28th 2020 Orcas: A50s, A54s and A4s(?) The A30’s calls perforated the inky blackness several times through the night, as they made their way through Johnstone Strait. Interestingly, we first heard them at 10am on our Rubbing Beach hydrophone, which means they had travelled through from Blackney Pass totally undetected in just a couple of hours. They slowly made their way east, foraging in Robson Bight just after midnight, taking their time until they got to Kazumi Rubbing Beach at 6:32am. For the next half an hour, we heard some lovely close and excited calls, and even captured some rubbing sounds as the daylight spilled over the horizon. They crossed Johnstone Strait and milled off Cracroft Point at around 7:30am, and it looked like they were coming into Blackney Pass as we saw on our remote CP camera. They must have changed their minds, however, and decided that their morning was better spent back east. By 9:24am they were visible around Robson Bight again, and the Cliff on Cracroft Island confirmed the presence of both A50 and A54 matrilines. After a swift bite to eat, they passed Critical Point heading east just before 11am, and we prepped ourselves at Strider Rubbing Beach camera. They would only be a few minutes, if they were coming in to rub! Sure enough, the first few individuals came into view mere minutes later, and began their morning pebble rub. We captured their calls on our Main Rubbing Beach hydrophone, and for the third day this week we had over an hour of beautiful orca action on our camera! Both matrilines were present at the rubbing beaches, and they went back and forth, back and forth along one stretch of beach where (perhaps) the best pebbles lie. We reached over 400 viewers on our live camera through Explore.org - this is a record! We were so thrilled to be broadcasting the event to that many people. Sharing the lives of these orcas without inhibiting them is at the heart of everything we do, and this was a really special moment. After their Strider sojourn, the A30s headed back west at 12:10pm, and continued on that trajectory, foraging through Robson Bight as they went. We heard loud, excited calls once more around Kazumi Rubbing Beach at 1.30pm. At this time, Janie and her lovely dog Cohen left the lab as they prepare to head up to Fin Island, escorted by Megan and Quin on the boat. Suzie was left alone at the lab and prepared for a manic afternoon of orcas coming into Blackney Pass, where one has to be simultaneously outside taking photos, and inside annotating calls and controlling our live cams… As it happened, it was a rather anticlimactic afternoon for Suzie, as the A30s fell pretty much silent as they headed west or milled out of range in Johnstone Strait. At 3.30pm we did receive a report of “whales galore” in Mitchell Bay on Malcom Island, but we are yet to receive any ID’s or subsequent whereabouts of these orcas. (If anyone has any further information, do pass it on!) Just as Quin and Megan returned to the lab, the A30s began calling once more at 5:57pm, distant off Cracroft Point. Typical! They made their way east yet again, calling and echolocating as they reached Robson Bight and passed our hydrophone at 7:09pm. So began the second rub of the day! These A30s certainly know what they like. They rubbed back and forth between the beaches, and we even saw a glimpse of two orcas (and a sea lion!) on our underwater camera at the main beach at 7:39pm. After this brief and seemingly more relaxing rubbing session, the A30s headed back to the west where we tracked their calls back to Kazumi Rubbing Beach around 9:51pm. Their calls dwindled, but we did hear some A4-sounding calls loud through one of our hydrophones around 10:21pm. Unfortunately we were not in the lab at the time, and they made only one brief bout of calls. We will have to listen back to it and see if we can glean a bit more information. The A30s have just started calling on Kazumi Rubbing Beach again at 11:39pm. We also currently have faint echolocation and orca-ish “squarks” in Blackfish Sound. We await a distinct call to give us more of a clue!

Suzie
28 Jul 2020 23:42:32 PDT



Superb sounds!!

Lovely calls and orcas on Strider cam! https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
28 Jul 2020 19:36:17 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

Orcas approaching Strider Rubbing Beach! https://www.explore.org/livecams/orcas/orcalab-base

Orcalab
28 Jul 2020 11:06:51 PDT



No orcas present.

July 27 2020 A30s, A35s, possible A73s and A56. T101s, T102 + other Bigg’s. As we anticipated, the A30s and A4s who had gone east yesterday finally came back within our range. Just after 1pm we started to hear distant calls on our Main Rubbing Beach hydrophone, alongside some nice echolocation. Interestingly, we were also picking up very faint calls on our Kazumi Rubbing Beach hydrophone which is a good few kilometres further west - it certainly gave us the chance to study the range of these new digital hydrophones in Johnstone Strait! We saw four orcas on Strider Rubbing Beach camera very briefly at 1:25pm, and they rubbed just once as they travelled west. Nothing like yesterday’s spectacle! At the same time, the Cliff on Cracroft Island reported six fins heading west past them . The orcas were indeed spread out in Johnstone Strait. We believe the A30s were on the Vancouver Island side as we heard close calls and echolocation as they entered Robson Bight at 1:38pm - but as they moved westward we heard a range of close and distant calls from both A30s and A4s, so it is very possible that the groups were mixed. Around 2:21pm all the orcas were between mid-Strait and Vancouver Island, and they made a bee-line for Kazumi Rubbing Beach. There were some great squeaks, whistles and calls at 2:30pm as they approached the beach, perhaps getting excited for the rub! We do not have a camera here but we heard some distinct rubbing sounds on this hydrophone at 2:47pm. This is particularly great news as we have not yet captured rubbing sounds at this location. The A30s and A4s did not seem to stay too long at the beach, and at this point we believe the two groups split up. We had A4 calls distant on our Parson Island hydrophone which can “see” quite far into Johnstone Strait, and closer A30 calls on the same hydrophone as these orcas made their way into Blackney Pass at 3:57pm. The A30s travelled north fairly spread out and far away, but we did manage to identify A72 and some members of the A54s as they passed. Once they reached Blackfish Sound at 4:10pm, we only heard A30 calls, which leads us to believe that none of the A4s were with them. Not long afterwards, we had a report that A77 of the A35s was travelling west past Alert Bay at 5:14pm, with a tailing group at Pearse Islands also heading west. A-ha! The A4s had continued west in the Strait. We are not sure if the A73s and A56 were still with the A35s at this time but until we receive further confirmation then we are grouping all of these A4 groups together, as they all disappeared east together yesterday. Tonight is Janie Wray’s last night at OrcaLab before she heads back up to continue her research on Fin Island. We had just started to tuck-in to our tasty fajita dinner when Janie spotted more fins in Blackney Pass, heading south at 7pm! As we scrambled to the deck, more orcas came in very close to the lab, with two large males and one smaller fin. The earlier group also had some male fins and a lot of smaller fins. Definitely not the A30 or A4 groups! We hadn’t heard any vocalizations and we suspected they were Bigg’s orcas as we began to try and ID them. Many thanks to Jared Towers for help with the IDs, and it turns out we had the T101s, T102 plus some other Bigg’s orcas whom we sadly couldn’t identify as they were too far away. They zoomed through Blackney Pass and by 7:21pm we could see them on Cracroft Point camera crossing Johnstone Strait. It was actually great footage - watching a group of at least 12 Bigg’s orcas battle the waves in the rip currents! We hoped they might vocalize once but alas, not tonight. We will miss Janie and her very good dog Cohen a lot, but we are so grateful for the past month and wish them all the best up at Fin Island, where the humpback bubble-net feeding will keep them very occupied for sure!

Suzie
27 Jul 2020 23:24:20 PDT