September 27 2023 BiggŐs orcas: T06D,T060E, T55s,T18,T19s Humpbacks: heard but not seen Yesterday was certainly something to write home about! It started with BiggŐs calls heard on the Flower Island hydrophone system in Blackfish Sound at 8:24am. None of us thought to check if there had been any reports. We are kind of Ňin Fall modeÓ falling back on to what we see and hear. So we listened and noted just how beautiful the calls were when we noticed a large male on the far shore. The BiggŐs were on their way south into Blackney. It turned out to be quite the group, and the majority passed closer to the Hanson Island side affording the opportunity to get reasonable photo IDs. There were a number of males including the two brothers, T060D and T060E, the same characters who have been recently in and out of Blackney Pass. The groups, consisting of at least three families, were scattered amongst themselves. The very large T019B was following right behind T055 for example. Progress through the Pass happened at a leisurely pace. There were at least three, then four boats, focused and following. The orcas grazed past the end of Hanson Island and the numerous sea lions right there did not seemingly react. This was interesting, especially after witnessing how jittery they can be. In a different location further along, an eagle intent on eating something in the forest, just up from where three sea lions were resting, scared them off the rocks with its movements. The orcas were possibly showing no interest and they carried on toward Johnstone Strait, boats in tow around 9:20am. Once in the Strait they turned east and headed to the Sophia Islands. Our remote camera followed their journey until they became too distant, and too small. They vocalised briefly while in Blackney Pass but then became silent. Just before noon three more BiggŐs orcas, identified as the T146s, were spotted off Beaver Cove. These three made it east of Blinkhorn, turned in toward shore and returned to Beaver cove by 4:11pm. The adventures with BiggŐs orcas were not yet complete. You might have guessed. At 5:44pm, the two brothers, T060D and T060E retraced their earlier travels. They passed the Lab fairly close. It was as if, just like it happens with Resident orcas, that they had escorted the others into the Strait and then left off to resume whatever they had next in mind. Since we last wrote there has also been humpback activity, especially at night. Bubble net feeding has continued sporadically at night and at first light as well. All these events have been happening in Blackfish Sound. Emily has been dutifully annotating each call, discriminating what behaviours might be involved, whether social or feeding. Most seem to be feeding. Perhaps the humpbacks see this as their priority for the moment. The sea lions began to haul out on the Hanson Island side on September 26. Their numbers have increased and they have since occupied more rocks along the Hanson Island shore. The Harlequin ducks arrived a while ago, the humming birds have left so the change in the season is really now in full swing.

OrcaLab
28 Sep 2023 13:44:17 PDT



September 22 - 24 2023 BiggŐs orcas: T60D, T060E Humpbacks: Argonaut, Merge, Lucky, Apollo,Conger You never know what might go bump in the night. Early in the morning of September 24, just before 4am, a humpback began to bubble net feed. And boy! did this whale ever find a good spot! The feeding event went on for close to two hours, in the same place and pretty much with the same intensity throughout. We have heard bubble net feeding throughout this season but only for short durations. Last year we did not hear much activity. Bubble net feeding is well known further north. In Alaska, the humpbacks there were the first to be documented and because most efforts are a group effort the events tend to be very dramatic. As humpbacks came into the inner coast they did so from north to south. Once well established on British ColumbiaŐs north coast they began to vocalise and adopt bubble net behaviours. Making their way into other parts of the coast, including the Johnstone Strait area, they were at first ŇshyÓ and did not immediately vocalise. Over a short period of time, as they became comfortable about their choice of locale they found their voices. Simple at first, a few social and feeding calls, then more elaborate song trials performed by the male humpbacks as summer turned into autumn. We have become quite used to spending hours recording the humpbacks. This season there does not seem to be as many humpbacks here as in previous years although several of the most familiar returnees have shown up, including Guardian with her new baby. So far they have not been very vocally expressive either. A rather delayed and subdued season all round. The resident orcas came a month late and left a month later. The sea lions have yet to haul out on the Hanson Island rocks although they have done so across the way and in the Plumper Islands. Even our famous sea gull, Uni, came late. With all these delays the surprise increase in bubble net feeding has grabbed our attention. Has this unique feeding strategy finally arrived here? From what we understand a humpback or a group of humpbacks begin low and deep and as they circle towards the surface they create bubbles which act as a trap for the small fish. The final ŇnailÓ is the piercing moan they emit before coming to the top and devouring their catch. Usually we have heard and seen the bubble net efforts during the day, so to hear such an extended effort in the dark of the night of the 24th felt exceptional. The first big storm hit the coast the next night. The wind and the waves made hearing the distinctive sound of the bubbles breaking was lost, but even so, distinctive distant moans were heard briefly in the night and then around 7am. The last few days have also been punctuated by sightings (no vocals) of two orca brothers T060D and T060E. BiggŐs orcas began to proclaim their presence on September 19 just before 6pm. Heard but not seen, these orcas were in Johnstone Strait and vocal until about 6:30pm. On September 21, there was the first sighting of the two brothers. Till and Carla were at the Cracroft Point camp and saw them heading toward Blackney Pass at 6:44pm. Amazingly it was still light enough to see them as they came into view of the Lab. They made long dives as they headed into Blackfish Sound. In the intervening three days before the next sighting ,Emily, who has just completed her Masters studying the complexities of humpback vocalisations at St AndrewŐs in Scotland, was staying up at night annotating the live humpback vocals which were now happening on a more regular basis. Emily shared her thesis findings with the rest of the group the evening before Barbara and Paulo left. Barbara followed EmilyŐs presentation by showing us a comparison of the scan data from here and the Fin Island Research station. Each location is tasked with scanning the waterways in front of their station nine times per day. During the 15 minute scans boats, cetaceans, weather, sea state are all entered onto a tablet. It was remarkable how similar the findings were at the two locations month by month. On September 24 the two brothers were back at 6:30 am heading south. Just under two hours later they were seen yet again, this time heading north. They were gone by 9:22am. At4pm they were back going the other way again. This time they shifted into Parson Bay. Lots of seals were over there, but at such a distance it was unclear if they found a target. They kind of disappeared after a long dive and into the late afternoon gloom. They were back going south once more at 8:13am on the 25th. This passing was quite close to Hanson which afforded us a much better look at their dorsal fin distinctions. The storm which had raged through the night settled down quite a bit during the rest of the 25th but the forecast promises us to expect another blow. We had already battened down the hatches so we are braced and ready. In the afternoon two sea lions occupied one of the Hanson Island rocks. A bit later there were 7. Hmm this might be the start of something after all. During this time we said good-bye to Gloria, Barbara, Paulo, Till, Carla and uliette. We would like to thank them for all their hard work especially during the busy part of the summer. Through it all, each was cheerful and willing. We could not ask for more. We wish each safe travels. Thank you! https://on.soundcloud.com/Hfzei

OrcaLab
25 Sep 2023 20:36:35 PDT



September 12 2023 BiggŐs : T059s Humpback Whale: Merge Pacific White-sided dolphins The welcomed sound of rain falling on the lab deck filled the night, and a few dolphin calls were heard over the hydrophones in Johnstone Strait. Outside, at 4am there were a few loud tonal blows of a single humpback whale, who stayed with us until light and was identified as Merge. The only sound absent was the familiar calls of resident orca. Shifts in the lab continued as usual, documenting the departure of orca is just as important as their arrival, though not quite as exciting. There was silence in the camp as many wondered if the orca had left the area, or if another family, not yet seen this season, would still arrive and make their way into the Reserve, to the beaches for their annual rub. There were lots of sea lions sighted throughout the day, and birds flocking in larger groups on the water where hidden from our view were bait balls of schooling small fish such as herring. At 6:15pm what we did not expect to hear was the word ŇORCA '' being yelled from the deck of the lab! This is also a main part of the culture of OrcaLab, that if you see an orca, you shout this word as loud as you can so everyone knows to drop what they are doing and to run to the lab. This is exactly what happened, the excitement on the deck was contagious, everyone took on their roles, the camera, the scopes and inside someone on the camera and of course the hydrophones. With the next up we all knew immediately this was a group of BiggŐs orca. There was one female leading, at least 200 meters ahead, then another female, a juvenile and a young baby. The female with the baby had a distinctive nick on the back of her dorsal, which would make identifying this group much easier. Not a single call was heard over the hydrophones. They were quite relaxed as they travelled past the lab towards the entrance of Blackney Pass. Just as they passed out of view, suddenly over 150 dolphins were porpoising at full speed, into Blackney Pass, close to the Parsons Island shore. The BiggŐs had turned and were close behind, in obvious pursuit. The dolphins split and scattered into 2 groups, one group heading north towards Blackfish Sound and the other back towards Johnstone Strait. No sign at all of the BiggŐs. It was not until 10 minutes later that the BiggŐs were sighted, in a group very distant, tight to the Cracroft Island shore and heading into Baronet Pass. There were no signs that this was a successful hunt as they slowly travelled out of view. At this point the light of the day was fading. The scopes and cameras were put back into the lab. The pictures were downloaded onto the computer and after comparing several photographs the BiggŐs were identified as the T059s.

OrcaLab
13 Sep 2023 14:24:08 PDT



September 11 2023 Pacific White-sided dolphins A rather different day today: A slight southeast breeze, rain and no resident orcas or humpbacks heard or seen. A few dolphins circulated, chatted just before 10am and travelled past the Lab just after 7pm. While contemplating all day long whether the resident orcas would return it gave everyone a chance to do other things: The boat was loaded on the high tide for the town trip the next morning; Adrien carried on organising winterŐs wood supply; Naomi packed up her belongings; and a crew set out to do a CTD scan in the Sonic. ŇCTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth, and refers to an electronic device used to detect how the conductivity and temperature of water changes relative to depth.Ó At regular intervals. OrcaLab tests the waters at selected hydrophone locations for these ocean conditions. The data from the CTD scans informed by the ocean state at the hydrophone sites is logged and stored for analysis. Today, Janie took Juliette, Tills, Carla and Adrien along. They visited and tested four sites, near the Lab, Flower Island, Cracroft Point and Kaizumi. They worked efficiently and were back in good time. The wind and rain stopped shortly after their return (of course) and the afternoon and evening became quite lovely. The gentle southeaster apparently had been just a hint of whatŐs to come later in the year.. Afterall, summer is still here for another ten days. The sea lions are increasing in numbers but have yet to haul out on the local rocks although they have occupied the rocks near the Parson Island light for some time. These rocks, on high tides, become submerged at which point the sea lions return to the ocean. Even though the local rocks on Hanson offer more permanent ground their habit of returning to the ocean on the high tide is the same. Even though they are across the Pass from the Lab their growls are clearly audible. Once on Hanson their growly complaints become much louder and frequent. It is surprisingly comforting. Naomi had her last full day at the Lab where she had been since June. She had been through the long wait for resident orcas to show up, learned quickly to identify BiggŐs orcas, delighted in watching exuberant dolphins and swam in the chilly waters daily. One of her best moments came when she swam at night through the bioluminescence. She said it was as if stars were floating past. Naomi also spent time looking at and comparing the presence of individual humpbacks over the past two years. We hope her journey back to Germany goes well and that the year to come is as fulfilling as her time here at the Lab has been. The night became somewhat eventful with the sounds of dolphins off Cracroft Point just after 10pm. A distant humpback, perhaps in Blackfish Sound, moaned intermittently reminiscent of bubble net feeding calls though it was too distant to make out any subsequent bubble sounds. And then midnight.

OrcaLab
12 Sep 2023 13:18:02 PDT



September 10 2023 Northern Residents: A54s,A23s,I04s Humpback Whale: Squiggle Pacific White-sided dolphins heard There is a change that occurs every year as the days get shorter and the nights longer, the humpback whales become more and more vocal, until one night the first song of the year will happen. From midnight until the early hours of the morning there were a number of humpback calls, from the deck one individual could be heard tonal blowing, the sound echoing throughout Blackney Pass. Then at 5:30am this whale went into song, it was a practice session, lasting only 6 minutes, but was a taste of what will hopefully come as fall arrives. It was a quiet orca night, only a few calls heard at 4:20am in Johnstone Strait, accompanied by Pacific-white sided dolphin chatter. It was a surprise to suddenly hear rubbing on the beach at Strider at 7:00am, not a single call, just the sound of orca bodies passing over the pebbles. From the angle of the camera 2 female orcas were seen. They only rubbed a few times then travelled to the west. It was not until 7:40am when there was a report of 5 orcas seen in the Reserve travelling west, that a few very faint A5 and then A1 type calls were heard. These faint calls continued and were eventually heard on the Kaizumi hydrophone and a few calls on Cracroft. At 8:50am Jim Borrowman reported that orcas were spread out foraging opposite Telegraph Cove, and that they could hear A Clan calls on their hydrophone. Calls could still be heard on Kaizumi. A few ŇGÓ clan I15 calls indicated that perhaps the I04 family was still in the area. After All they had been constant companions to the A23s, A25s and especially the A54s. A clear A54 signature call lent credence to the idea that they were still in the area as well. At 10:50am there was a report from Scotty that the A23s had been sighted travelling west through Weynton Passage. It had been quiet on the hydrophones for a long time, when both A5, A1 and sparse I15 calls were heard on the Flower Island hydrophone at 1:45pm. On the remote camera we were able to see 1 male and a few female orcas off in the distance - the orca families had come through Weynton and were now crossing the western end of Blackfish Sound. By 2:50pm distant A1 and A5 calls could still be heard. Megan at Cracroft Point relayed that AJ had sighted orcas spread out between Donegal Head and Lizard Point foraging. The last report of the day was at 4:11pm when 12 orcas were sighted travelling west towards Lizard Point in Queen Charlotte Strait. The evening was very quiet, not even a humpback whale or a dolphin was heard over the hydrophones. Hopefully the orcas have not made their fall departure and more families are yet to arrive and the humpback whales will sing throughout the night very soon!

OrcaLab
11 Sep 2023 09:41:37 PDT



September 9 2023 Northern Residents; A54s, A23s,A25s,I04s Humpbacks: Inukshuk, Merge Pacific White-sided dolphins What a morning! Despite the fact that the resident groups had reentered Johnstone Strait via Blackney Pass around midnight; despite the fact that they went east, stalled and then turned back to the west by 2am; despite the fact that they retraced their steps and went through Blackney Pass,at least the A23s did, at 5:20am, the morning really belonged to one singular event, a sleeping humpback in front of the Lab. Starting just after daybreak at 7:57am Inukshuk decided to fall deeply asleep. He drifted quietly and slowly, breathed out mists, glistened in the early morning sun. It was a stunningly intimate moment. Never had this happened in this way before so close to the Lab. People spoke in whispers as they watched. Cameras clicked just occasionally. The moment belonged to him. As he drifted out further from shore there was the concern that he would be vulnerable to boat traffic. Apparently, perhaps tired from a night of feeding, Inukshuk has been seen sleeping in the daytime before. One fairly large boat went by and after it had long passed Inukshuk stirred. As a finale he lifted his fluke, dove and moved on. The Resident orcas during this time were organising their next moves. Those that had gone through Blackney at 5:30am were now back off the western end of Johnstone Strait. Gathered together were the A54s, A25s, A23s and the I04s, the same gang who have been together over the last several days. It was now 10am. By 11:35am they had shifted over towards Telegraph Cove and Beaver Cove. It was time for them to start moving. In no particular hurry they turned eastward. By the time they were opposite what is known locally as Little Kaiakash it was early afternoon. The ŇCPÓ camp, and those on the Cracroft Point remote camera back at the Lab, watched the orcas' steady playful progression. Mostly mid strait, with some nearer Vancouver Island, they were followed by the inevitable boats. A60 had gotten ahead and was busying himself at 12:35pm going back and forth closer to the ŇCPÓ camera. By 1:35pm the various groups were passing Cracroft Point to the east. By 1:45pm orcas were near Kaikash, along the Vancouver Island side. At 1:56pm some of the A54s went in for a brief rub along Vancouver Island and then continued east. Passage eastward by the slightly more energised orcas was as before, with the various groups spread out making way. By 3:24pm, the A54s were ready for another rub, this time at Strider beach. The rub would last for about half an hour during which all the groups but not all individuals were involved. Collectively the orcas were concentrated on Strider and Main beach area but they only clearly rubbed at Strider. While doing so, close loud calls from the different groups were heard (not seen due to technical difficulties) at Main beach. The impression was that the whales not immediately involved at Strider were lingering close to Main not far away. Half an hour later the orcas finally began to pull away from Strider beach. Main beach had been abandoned before this. A few of the orcas attempted to follow but could not resist returning for another go, crisscrossing with those attempting to follow the others west. By 4:10pm all whales were westbound. The currents during this part of the monthŐs cycle are not as strong as just a few days ago, so the whales made reasonable time back past Kaizumi, Kaikash and Cracroft Point. Three loud cruise ships entering the Strait via Blackney Pass and a tug pulling a log barge, already in the Strait, did not help with tracking the whales acoustically. The strong afternoon glare was not much help either. As the whales shifted toward the entrance of Blackney, Megan watched A61 head in. By 6:07pm, the Lab started to track the various groups though the Pass. The A54s, fragmented somewhat into smaller groups, had overtaken A61 and were in the lead. The A23s followed along with the rest of the A54s. The A25s managed their way next followed by the I04s who obligingly stayed together as a group mid channel. A60, like the A25s was further over nearer the Parson and Swanson Island shores. As with the previous evening, the orcas headed off into the lovely sunset in Blackfish Sound, their calls becoming distant as they went. By 8:13pm no further calls were heard. They made a final declaration in Blackfish Sound an hour later. The A54s, perhaps now behind the others, made distant calls for about 10 minutes before they disappeared into Weynton Passage. The A5s, who presumably proceeded the A54s back to Johnstone Strait were first heard on the Kaizumi system at 11:30pm as they, with the A30s (heard at 11:43pm) advanced eastward in the Strait. Calls ended just before midnight with no I15 type calls detected, so it was not clear whether or not the I04s were still with the ŇAsÓ. Humpback noises and dolphin chatter helped to fill in the Johnstone Strait soundscape as the day ended.

OrcaLab
10 Sep 2023 10:42:34 PDT



September 8 2023 Northern Residents: A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s BiggŐs orcas: T069A (+?) Humpbacks: Argonaut in Blackfish Sound Pacific White-sided dolphins Around 9pm each night we begin to prepare the summary of the day. It is when we unravel all the sightings, recordings and reports of the whereabouts and movements of the whales, the orcas in particular. The days are so busy that trying to remember how the day actually began is a bit of a challenge at times. Dialling back this day, a humpback started it off just after midnight. Not much but at this time of year that is to be expected , more from them will come later. From the A30 calls the previous evening it was apparent that the A54s had returned from their journey to the east leaving behind the A23s, A25s and the I04s. They went silent afterwards for a while and re-emerged about 12:26am with more calls. Still no sign of the others. Dolphins, however, were not far off, chatty and very expressive. This time the A30 calls lasted until 1:19am. They were always distant and sounded as if they did not advance further than the east end of the Ecological Reserve. The A54s must have then retreated to the east to hurry the others back. At 5am they were back in range for a while until 5:38am. Things take time and the orcas still had a long way to come to get back into full range of the hydrophones. The morning was absolutely beautiful. No fog for once. The sun literally kissed the calm flat ocean with hues of soft yellows and orange. Into this morning appeared the T069As travelling leisurely to the south not far from the Hanson Island side. They were not decisive about their direction, first going north, then south, then north again. They were lost on a long, long dive and only found once in Johnstone Strait where they went off to the west. While they were doing so the Resident orcas had made tracks and their calls were heard again by 7:26am. This time it was everyone. A5, I15 and A30 calls taking turns, mixed together. The Kaizumi, Main beach and Strider beach hydrophones all reach into different areas. The Kaizumi beach hydrophone often picks up calls closer to the Cracroft Island side. This had been the case when the whales departed eastward the day before. Here they were again, spread out from each of the Johnstone Strait shores. Their movement westward was steady and over the next few hours their progress was charted from east of Main beach, to Strider beach, Kaizumi and Cracroft Point. There were no rub attempts at any of the beaches. The remote cameras along the way witnessed some of the movement. Some of the whales had travelled very close to the Vancouver Island side. As the whales passed the Kaizumi remote camera between 10am and 10:30am they were easily observed, but when opposite Kaikash, and beyond the range of the Kaizumi camera, the Cracroft Point camera, even zoomed right in, had difficulty except for discerning blows and splashes. By 11am there were close A54 calls on the Cracroft system and a short while later I15 calls as well. Whales were converging towards the entrance of Blackney Pass. The A54s cleared into the entrance at 11:24am They were followed by a research boat and local whale watch boat. Megan meanwhile was watching one group that was still on the Vancouver Island side continue west. From 11:30am, the A54s and the I04s moved through Blackney Pass and into Blackfish Sound by 12pm. It looked like A54 was in the lead of the fairly compact group. As they headed into Blackfish Sound they spread out somewhat and carried on in a generally westerly direction, changing direction from time to time. Dolphins joined them off the western end of Blackfish Sound on the cusp of Queen Charlotte Strait. At this point the research boat seemed to abandon its following and headed toward Johnstone Strait perhaps to investigate the BiggŐs orcas. It was now about 12:30pm. The group that had been seen still on the Vancouver Island side was most likely some of the A5s. Possibly, the A23s had doubled back. At 12:50pm they began a rub at Strider beach. Once again A60 did not join A95, A69, A126, A109 and his sister A43 as they enjoyed the beach in that order. The rub was over by 1:11pm and the family carried on to the west. The A25s were not around for this rub but would turn up off Cracroft Point a couple of hours later. They made direct passage past ŇCPÓ and into Blackney Pass. There were a few curious unexplained A1 like calls in the midst of the A5 calls of the west bound A23s/A25s in Johnstone Strait around 3pm. There were not a lot of calls but clear enough to have us wondering what was going on? Around the same time one of these whales made an imitation of a ŇGÓ clan call. It is not uncommon for the whales from one cClan to imitate another but it was interesting nonetheless. Up in Blackfish Sound the Naiad Explorer encountered Argonaut, the humpback, sleeping on the surface when a sea lion came up to him and nudged him until he grumpily awoke. The A23s caught up to the A25s and both groups travelled through Blackney Pass from 3:33pm until 4:08pm with the A25s leading. Before reaching Blackfish Sound the A25s fell back and lingered a while longer in Blackney Pass foraging. Eventually they too moved into Blackfish Sound and continued west accompanied by the inevitable dolphins. A gap ensued. Then at 8:50pm a noisy humpback in Blackfish Sound began the nightŐs events. He was followed by the sounds of resident orcas returning. Again the A54s led an I15 group (?the I04s) and an A5 group (?A25s) into and through Blackney Pass as all the while the humpback (perhaps two) rumbled and grumbled along. Dolphins had been quite active in Johnstone Strait before all this but had grown quiet for a while. Passage by the orcas through Blackney Pass was straightforward although their calls dropped off as they made their way. They resumed their calls once they arrived in Johnstone Strait. Megan and Gloria heard them come ŇinÓ as two groups that quickly shot straight out towards Vancouver Island. A trailing group (the A23s?) were not far behind. Once in the Strait and after their initial excitement (there was a flurry of pronounced N3 type calls) the orcas only made intermittent calls up to midnight. There was a lot of persistent boat noise. A humpback closed off this part of the night by exhaling several times near one of the hydrophones under the nightŐs brilliant canopy of stars.

OrcaLab
09 Sep 2023 07:40:00 PDT



September 7 2023 Northern Residents: [A30, A5, I15 - heard] Humpbacks: Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins Basically, the groups that were off the western end of Blackfish Sound the previous evening made their way into and through Weynton Passage to Johnstone Strait where they spent the rest of the night from just before midnight to 7:30am travelling eastward. Dolphins abounded in Blackney Pass for a long time. Some of the orca milestones along the way were as follows: The A30s and the A5s were probably abreast Cracroft Point by 1am; by then the dolphins had ventured closer to Blackfish Sound; by 2am the orcas had shifted closer to Izumi Rock, I15s, perhaps the trailing group were not heard until 2:23am; by 4am the lead whales had passed Robson Bight and were closer to Strider beach; a rub occurred at 4:35am involving both A5 and I15s; it was only a brief rub as these whales continued east; a coincidental rub, lasting only seconds happened at Main beach; the whales were not stopping; at 4:53am dolphins were in Johnstone Strait as well; from 5am to 7:30am calls remained distant; one impression was that the whales continued east with at least some travelling closer to the Cracroft Island side. Northern Residents were absent for the entire day. At 1:51pm a whale watching report described a large group of Northern Resident orcas westing in Race Passage on the southside of Helmken Island not far from Kelsey Bay. We were not aware of any further reports nor the IDs of those in Race Passage. At 9:29pm A30 calls were heard east of the Ecological Reserve. At least some of the whales were on their way back. The calls lasted until 10:06pm. Dolphin calls lasted a while longer. A humpback, at 11:51pm made a few ŇwhupsÓ in Blackney Pass. This closed off this part of the night, more was to follow. Sadly, we said good-bye to Momoko Kobayashi our long time assistant who this time visited for a few weeks and was a tremendous help. We wish her all the best and can't wait fro her to return next year. Though Alex Morton is not going far her short visit at orcalab came to an end when she hopped on the boat with Momoko to go back to her Malcolm Island home. It was a lovely visit - we know she will be listening and watching as always.

OrcaLab
08 Sep 2023 10:10:30 PDT



September 7 2023 Northern Residents: [A30, A5, I15 - heard] Humpbacks: Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins Basically, the groups that were off the western end of Blackfish Sound the previous evening made their way into and through Weynton Passage to Johnstone Strait where they spent the rest of the night from just before midnight to 7:30am travelling eastward. Dolphins abounded in Blackney Pass for a long time. Some of the orca milestones along the way were as follows: The A30s and the A5s were probably abreast Cracroft Point by 1am; by then the dolphins had ventured closer to Blackfish Sound; by 2am the orcas had shifted closer to Izumi Rock, I15s, perhaps the trailing group were not heard until 2:23am; by 4am the lead whales had passed Robson Bight and were closer to Strider beach; a rub occurred at 4:35am involving both A5 and I15s; it was only a brief rub as these whales continued east; a coincidental rub, lasting only seconds happened at Main beach; the whales were not stopping; at 4:53am dolphins were in Johnstone Strait as well; from 5am to 7:30am calls remained distant; one impression was that the whales continued east with at least some travelling closer to the Cracroft Island side. Northern Residents were absent for the entire day. At 1:51pm a whale watching report described a large group of Northern Resident orcas westing in Race Passage on the southside of Helmken Island not far from Kelsey Bay. We were not aware of any further reports nor the IDs of those in Race Passage. At 9:29pm A30 calls were heard east of the Ecological Reserve. At least some of the whales were on their way back. The calls lasted until 10:06pm. Dolphin calls lasted a while longer. A humpback, at 11:51pm made a few ŇwhupsÓ in Blackney Pass. This closed off this part of the night, more was to follow.

OrcaLab
08 Sep 2023 09:51:06 PDT



September 6 2023 Northern Residents: A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s, I16s BiggŐs orcas: T071s, T109s Humpbacks: Inukshuk, Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins This day seamlessly began where the previous one ended with all the orca groups gathered around the Boat Bay - Ecological Reserve area. For hours the A54s, I15s (the I04s & I16s)and A5s (the A25s & A23s) moved around in this general vicinity. Calls fluctuated from the very faint and distant to the sometimes clear calls on the two most eastern hydrophones at Strider and Main beaches. These hydrophones both have a long reach and Main beach has been known to hear all the way beyond Naka Creek to the east so it is possible that these orca families were at times east of the eastern boundary of the Ecological Reserve. The shifting whales were probably stretched at times between the Cracroft and Vancouver Island shores. The 5 families present account for 28 individual whales, quite a sizable collective group, with each having either similar or separateate agendas. This became clearer as the night wore on and the variety of calls continued through the LabŐs night shifts. Then just before 6am things began to change when I15 type calls were heard further west into range of the Cracroft Point hydrophone which can pick up calls to about mid strait off the Sophia Islands. But nothing was going to happen with any speed this day and progress was slow as the I16s pulled away from their companions and began to make their way west. Between 9 and 10am orcas were reported both at Cracroft Point and Telegraph Cove. It was still very foggy at 9am and there was no description or identification of the whales off Telegraph Cove. However, definite I15 type calls were heard off Cracroft Point and Megan witnessed whales she thought to be the I04s passing by to the west and crossing over the entrance of Blackney Pass, perhaps following their close family, the I16s who eventually made their way into the entrance of Weynton Passand Donegal Head by 11:17am. They would go on into Queen Charlotte Strait and make very slow progress to the west for the rest of the day. By 3:10pm they were finally identified as part of the I16s. Kate would later see the remainder of the group far offshore nearly 3 hours later. The I04s, however, never left the Strait and were perhaps the 4 whales reported heading east near Izumi Rock at 12:29pm. 12:29pm was also when the dayŐs feature event happened with A61 starting a beautiful,long, leisurely solo rub at Strider beach. The entire rub lasted one hour and twenty-two minutes and would eventually involve more of the A5s, some of the A23s and finally the i04s. A61 had the beach to himself until the rest of his immediate family (A85 and A121) joined him at 12:45pm. Then some of the A23s slipped in around 1:10pm. It might be noted that A60, the adult male in the A23 family, has yet to be seen rubbing at any of the beaches. He seems to be content being offshore of the action. Throughout the Strider rub A5 and A30 calls were heard to the east on the Main beach system but there was no indication that anyone came in for a rub there during this time. The A54s came along at 1:38pm. Throughout, A61 was never far away and of course, dolphins made their presence known, but interestingly, this time, they were fewer and less exuberant around the orcas. There was a brief rub at the Main beach at 1:56pm after loud A5 calls and echolocation were heard. The direction the whales took after these rubs was not entirely clear but most likely it was to the east. At 2:43pm, the I04s had made it to Strider where they rubbed for five minutes and joined the others somewhere near the eastern boundary. At 3:36pm the mass of whales had elected to head west along the Vancouver Island side. Just after 4pm they were angling towards the beaches. A61 made no effort to resume rubbing but carried on to the west. However, some of the A54s did so at Strider starting at 4:17pm and ending at 4:24pm. A5 and dolphin calls could be heard off in the distance. Five unidentified orcas approached Strider for a brief two minute rub. Time was not for the wasting, the whales were on the move and going west. The relaxed pace westward was consistent with how the day had already unfolded. Eventually, the orcas made their way to Cracroft Point. In the midst of their movement another flavour was brought to the day. Around 4:45pm Scotty came across BiggŐs orcas, the T071s moving northwest from mid strait opposite Big Bay. By 5:30pm these BiggŐs orcas were off Telegraph Cove and the Resident A23s were offshore of Vancouver Island in line with Kaizumi beach from the ŇCPÓ perspective as Megan and Gloria watched their advance ŇupÓ the Strait. In the next half hour A61 was seen travelling mid strait ( basically parallel to the A23s) and angling in toward Cracroft Point. His family, A85 and A121 were not far away. There was a certain amount of indecisive movement as these whales milled in one direction then the other. They seemed either biding their time, waiting for others or maybe surveying for fish while waiting? The calm waters, the sight of the relaxed A61 along with his and his familyŐs clear calls and echolocation was a lovely and engaging moment regardless. A large group of about 100 dolphins were involved in the A25 scene. Eventually, these orcas turned west and went past CP. By 6:30pm they and others were making their way into Blackney Pass. Using the long range of the remote Flower Island camera the blows of the various groups could be seen coming through the entrance of Blackney and into the pass. The Achiever on perhaps its last excursion was there following the whales as well. Kate at Bere Point added that the T109s made a close pass into the bay. She thought that perhaps they were chasing seals. They left to the east. Over the next hour, with dinner delayed, the whales streamed by the Lab arranged in three groups. The A23s and the A25s led the others, including the I04s into Blackfish Sound while the last group composed of most of the A54s completed the passing. Inukshuk, the humpback, had a few antics to contribute as the orcas passed him by. It was time for A61 to be the centre of attention once again as he steadily swam, with the Flower Island remote camera trained on him, into the sunset. Dolphins still accompanied him. Further away a lone humpback energetically followed dolphins and orcas through the sunset glow. Again, the whales were in no hurry and there was a lot of crisscrossing of the far western end of Blackfish Sound as they formed a collective decision on which direction to go. As the sunset diminished, and dinner on the table, all was left was their now distant calls. By 9:30pm the A5 calls had ceased to be heard and then by 9:40pm the A30s and I15s had ended as well. The whales had finally made up their minds to head into Weynton Passage and go back to Johnstone Strait. Had they brought anyone else along? The I16s, when last known, were still in Queen Charlotte Strait by late afternoon. What had they decided? Meanwhile, the dolphins had gathered in Blackney Pass. They were still chatting when the resident orcas made it back to Johnstone Strait just before 11pm. The A5s were first followed by the A30s and I15s. Their calls were all distant over the next hour. It was time for the early morning shifts to now follow what the rest of the night and the whales had to offer.

OrcaLab
07 Sep 2023 09:33:20 PDT



September 5 2023 Northern Residents: A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s, 116s Humpbacks: Quartz, Argonaut Pacific White-sided dolphins UNI the gull! After such a busy day, the night from our perspective was very calm. The whales had all left the immediate area and would not return until the morning. Kate Brauer at Bere Point spotted a large group coming in from the west. They went for a brief rub at 7:07am, before continuing east along the Malcolm Island shore. As we awaited their arrival a large group of Pacific White-sided Dolphins appeared in front of the Lab, relaxedly travelling north at 9:18am. The first A5 calls from the Flower Island hydrophone were audible by 10am followed by more distant A30s and I15s. Momoko located tiny, tiny fins on our Flower Island remote camera way over by the Malcolm Island shore west of Donegal Head. After a while it became clear that the orcas were angling towards Blackney and not choosing to go into Weynton Passage, giving us plenty of time to anticipate their arrival out front. As these whales headed east, a group of resident orcas, likely the A23s returning from their jaunt to the lower reaches, were reported passing Boat Bay on Cracroft Island to the west in Johnstone Strait. A reunion seemed imminent! A61, visible at 11:17am, was the first orca to enter Blackney Pass. He was mid-pass and bucking the ebb. Predominantly A5 and A30 calls were heard, along with distant I15 calls. At the same time, the large group of dolphins re-entered Blackney and were seen foraging and jumping closer to the Swanson shore. As A61 reached the Parson Bay area two smaller fins tailed him at some distance - likely the rest of the A25s, A85 (Cordero) and her young one Twilight (A121). The A54s next -at least 8 of them - travelled as a tight-knit group on the further side of the Pass. Finally, the I04s with the rest of the A54s cut in close at Burnt Point on the Hanson Island side and travelled forward, only a few hundred metres from our deck, after the others. The A25s led the whales into Johnstone Strait with all clear of our view by 12:18pm. Over to Megan and Gloria at CP, where the A54s passed first close to the deck. The groups then angled towards the Vancouver Island shore. Meanwhile, the A23s headed steadily west towards the Kaizumi area. A report at 12:29pm declared that I16s were back in Blackfish Sound too headed east toward Blackney Pass. Soon enough they rounded close to Burnt Point at 12:56pm. These seven individuals travelled silently as a tight group close to the deck, riding the back-eddy current south to join the others. Around 1:30pm, the A23s became very vocal as they passed Kaizumi Beach and continued west. All the other groups, now westbound as well, caught up with them by the time they reached the Telegraph Cove area. The orcas stayed here for a while, with some whales dipping into Beaver Cove, others spreading out opposite the entrance to Weynton Passage. By 5:20pm, they were all in a nice resting line off Telegraph Cove, pointed east but not travelling. As we awaited their next moves, we spotted a Glaucous winged gull standing on the rocks to the left of the Lab digging into a sea urchin - ŇUniÓ, who has returned to this bay for over twenty years and is known for her consistent sea urchin hunting, was back! A little late but back all the same. Finally, around 5:40pm, the A54s, A23s and A25s. had energised themselves enough to head off through Weynton Pass. As these whales completed their slow lap around Hanson Island, entering our view again by 7pm, their movements were accompanied by lots of calls. The A23s were in the lead, followed by the A25s and finally A54s. How polite of them to be on their way to Johnstone Strait by 7:30pm, just in time for us to enjoy our dinner! As these whales arrived at Cracroft Point, they initially produced a lot of ÔN3Ő calls before opening up into very excited N4s and other more decorative vocalizations. The N3 is a very compact call, and an interesting conversation ensued over dinner with Alex who suggested that this is often employed as the whales organise movements and/or further conversations. The footage on our remote Cracroft Point camera was beautiful, with glassy waters in the fading light. We were quite confident Megan at ŇCPÓ was capturing this beautiful passing as well. The whales were tracked eastward, calling vibrantly as they went, with the A5s leading the A54s into the night. Then just before 9pm faint I15 calls were heard from the western end of the Strait. These whales steadily followed in the same direction chosen by the others. Around the same time, an intermittently chatty group of Pacific White-Sided dolphins began in Blackfish Sound. The hydrophones were alive with cetaceans on all sides! By 10:37pm, the leading A5s with A54s had made it past the eastern boundary of the Ecological Reserve, with a report of audible blows from one of the kayak camps. Here they stayed, awaiting the I15s who would join them. All stayed just within our range, with faint but lively calls persisting to midnight and beyond.

OrcaLab
06 Sep 2023 11:29:13 PDT



September 4th 2023 Northern Residents: A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s No humpbacks! 100+ Pacific White-Sided Dolphins Another day come and gone, another set of orca mysteries to solve! The whales - at least from our perspective - have kept us on our toes as they travelled back and forth and intermingled as they went. With no further clues of the I16s today, we still surmise that it was they who travelled north past the lab in the dark yesterday evening, and out to Queen Charlotte Strait. The others - A54s, A23s, A25s and I04s - all remained east for the majority of the night. The ŇAÓ groups seemed to travel furthest and dip out of our range, while the I04s lingered and were still audible around the eastern beaches at 2:45am. By 4:40am, the I04s had decided to move to the west, as we began hearing them faintly on our Cracroft Point and Kaizumi Beach hydrophones. Their westerly decision did not stick for long, as they swept back on the flooding current to Strider Beach for one, solitary rub at 6:45am, before turning again to the west. They reached Kaizumi by 8:25am and continued on their way. Why the back-and-forth? Waiting for others, perhaps. In the meantime, the A23s had also come back from the east, audible around Kaizumi beach at 8:49am. The A54s were the last to reappear, reaching our Main Beach area at 9:15am, and continuing west. It was time for the A23s to be Ônon-committalŐ to a particular direction, as from 10am to 12pm they switched from east to west, back to east - pacing the boundary of the Ecological Reserve. This was the last we would see of them, and their puzzle piece was not fitted until the evening when we received a report that they were seen down in Nodales Channel at 5:24pm. We believe they took the Ôback routeŐ behind East & West Thurlow Islands. Quite an impressive journey for just a few hours work; the Blue Moon tides have brought speedy passages to these whales! Back to Johnstone Strait, and the westbound A54s crossed from the Bight to the Cracroft shore around 12:30pm. They headed straight to Cracroft Point and made no delay on their way to Blackney Pass. We could see them from our deck at 1:21pm and began hearing them shortly after, around the same time that a large, chatty group of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins headed north and into Blackfish Sound. The A54s travelled fairly quickly, with a few breaches for good measure. As a family of 11 now, it was wonderful to see their many fins pass by. They were all clear from our view by 2pm, and headed towards Weynton Pass. At 1:49pm, we received a report of some A25s heading west along the Vancouver Island shore around Kaikash Creek. An hour later, A61 (A25s) would pass Cracroft Point, also westing. It is not unusual for this trio to be quite spatially separated. They did not come into Blackney, instead following the I04s who had also headed west and were now foraging around Weynton Island. By 5:10pm, the A54s, I04s and A25s had rejoined and were all spread around Telegraph Cove. They all rode the evening ebb ŇupÓ Weynton Passage, grazing the range of our hydrophone in Blackfish Sound at 7:40pm. They travelled north towards Bold Head (Swanson Island) and beyond. As the light faded, we caught a glimpse of two tight-knit groups of orcas, suggesting the family groups were interspersed. We were able to ID A61 (Surge) from his distinctive flat-top dorsal fin, and track the groups out of view into Queen Charlotte Strait. On land, it was a day of arrivals. Suzie came back for another brief stint (night shift for the next few days!) along with Gloria Pancrazi, who first came to us as one of our very few 2020 volunteers. We also welcomed Alexandra Morton back to Hanson, who will be staying with us for a few days. She brought enough home-grown squash to feed us all for weeks! It is an honour and a pleasure to spend time with her here, surrounded by the songs of the orcas that have brought us all together. As the final touches were being made to HelenaŐs potato gratin & trimmings, a huge group of Pacific White-Sided dolphins stole our attention right in front of the lab at 7:40pm. There were easily 100 individuals, along with a couple of sea lions, chasing schooling fish northward into the Sound. As the night closes in, our ears are peeled to the east for the A23s and to the west for the other groups, who may just return with others in tow.

OrcaLab
05 Sep 2023 08:47:40 PDT



September 3 2023 Northern Residents: A54s, A23s, A25s, I04s and I16s (seen in Queen Charlotte Strait and possibly heard) Humpback Whales: Argonaut Pacific White-sided dolphins At 1:30am the A54s were vocal on the Flower Island hydrophone until 2:50am. There was a pause in calls, then at 3:25am both A54s and I15s became very excited with a burst of calls from both families, perhaps they had just joined up again with the A23s. It was soon after that blows were heard from the deck of the lab at 4:00am. The groups, the A23s, A54s, A25s and at least the I04s, were travelling towards the entrance of Blackney Pass and cleared into the Strait by 4:15am. In the Strait at 5:09am A5 calls were heard with the A54s and I15s distantly on Kaziumi hydrophone, indicating that they were crossing the Strait over the Vancouver Island side. By 5:20am they had gone silent. It was not until 6:00am that very close A5 calls were heard on the Strider hydrophone in the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. At 6:22am the rubs began as the sun was rising to the east. The first rub was very short, they were quite vocal, lots of N3 type calls that are common within the A Clan community. The next rub was at 6:40am, 2 females and a young juvenile, was also a quick rub after which they travelled east. Further east of Strider there was a lot of the echolocation on the adjacent Main rubbing beach. At 6:50am there was a burst of energetic I15 type calls and one minute later one male and 3 females began to rub on Strider. Through the various calls, A5s were also detected close on Strider and the male was identified as A61. Soon a group of Pacific White-sided dolphins arrived on the beach, travelling very close to the orca, who had stopped rubbing at 7:00am and now were at first travelling east then back west soon after. However, there was still lots of echolocation heard to the east on Main rubbing beach hydrophone. At 7:03am another rub began on Strider. This time the orcas were surrounded by a large group of Pacific White-sided dolphins. Once again there were lots of N3 calls. The group then left the beach and travelled west at 7:07am. At 7:15am yet another rub began on Strider with an accompanied A61 again. There were many A5 and I15 types of calls heard on Strider, but only A5 calls on Main. At 7:48am the 3 females left the beach, but the male, A61, stayed behind and continued to rub on his own. He was soon joined by a group of at least 10 White-sided dolphins. In a strategy employed by others, Surge (A61) circled offshore of the beach and moved as if going towards the west. The dolphins followed. He took a deep dive, circled back without the dolphins and had another long rub. The dolphins came back so he repeated his ruse three times before finally truly leaving the beach and travelling west at 7:55am. The western movement of the orcas was captured just after 8am when very distant ŇAÓ calls were heard on the Kaizumi hydrophone These calls were followed by some from the I15s at 8:22am. Further testament to their progress, faint A5 and A1 calls were next heard on the Cracroft Point hydrophone. At 9:08am, Megan at the Cracroft Outcamp (ŇCPÓ) reported the A23s passing the entrance of Blackney Pass, 400 metres offshore. The first assumption was they would travel west in Johnstone Strait but at 9:45am, the I4s and the A54s were sighted in Blackney Pass travelling to the north very fast. The A25s followed and they all cleared to the north at 10:13am with A61 taking up the rear. The orca continued to the northwest and by 11:15am only distant calls were heard after going out of range of the remote camera. We had missed the A23s who most likely were already past when we spotted the others. Megan relayed the report that at 12:43 the A23s were 3.5 miles east of Lizard Point and at 1:00pm the Naiad reported that the 116s were westing near Lizard. Scotty reported that he had sighted the A54s with the I04s. The report of the I16s got us thinking as we had not identified this group in Johnstone Strait during the morning. Had they gone out with the A23s ahead of the others? Or had they just turned up in Queen Charlotte Strait? Possible. The A23s were seen easting off Donegal Head at 3pm. At 3:30pm a few A5 calls were heard on the Flower Island hydrophone, then a long pause in calls. Then at 4:40pm the A23s, A54s, A25s and the I04s travelled very fast in a tight group past the Lab towards the entrance of Blackney Pass into Johnstone Strait. They cleared the view of the Lab by 4:50pm. Distinctive A5 and I15 type calls were heard as they entered the Strait and by 5:10pm they were travelling in the Strait towards the Vancouver Island shore. They were quite vocal with lots of echolocation. By 5:26pm the A23s were rubbing on Kaizumi beach. The rub lasted for just for a few minutes, then they all travelled east. At 6:46pm, distant calls were detected on Strider and by 7:04pm, almost 12 hours later from their morning rub, they were back at the beaches for another session. At 7:11pm the A23s were identified on the Strider beach rubbing and we heard I15 calls at this time as well. There were lots of excited close calls. At 7:17pm this rub ended and they travelled further east to the Main rubbing beach. This A23 rub started at Main at 7:20pm and ended at 7:24pm. At 7:22pm Megan reported orcas between Cracroft Point and Little Kaikash mid strait headed east. Was it possible that this was perhaps the I16s and that they had headed into the Strait via Weynton Passage? As the I15 and A5 calls on Main beach continued to fade by 7:40pm by 8:50pm, I15 calls were detected on Kaizumi hydrophone. Were these the eastbound group that Megan saw at 7:22pm? It seemed as if we were dealing with two possible separate I15 matrilines. By 9pm, calls were back on the Cracroft Point system. We were keeping options open. At 9:20pm, both I15 calls and echolocation were heard on the Parson Island hydrophone as whales entered Blackney Pass. They travelled north. Calls continued on Local Center and then echoed to Flower. At 9:40pm this I15 group cleared north followed by close calls and echolocation on Flower. At 10:36pm A5 calls were still heard on the Strider hydrophone, and at 10:55 another rub started, by either the A23s or A25s. This rub ended at 11:00pm, and there was the chatter of dolphins close by on Strider. They travelled east and by 11:10pm there were both A5 and A54 calls on the Main hydrophone, with faint dolphin calls. By midnight the calls were fading but audible still on Strider and Main.

OrcaLab
04 Sep 2023 15:36:22 PDT



September 2 2023 Northern Residents: A54s,A23s, A25s, I04s, I16s BiggŐs orcas: T055s Pacific White-sided dolphins Before beginning this summary there needs to be a bit of backtracking about the movement of the various I15 groups. The I15 matriline was divided into four matrilines, the I04s, I16s, I27s and the I65s,after the death of I15. They maintain the same shared calls. These matrilines came to be viewed as independent of each other while travelling in varying combinations. The I16s, for example, came in earlier and travelled with the A23s for a good length of time. They departed with the A23s, then the other three matrilines came in later together with the I31s with whom they also left early on August 31. In hindsight yesterdayŐs early morning I15 calls might have been returning I16s with at least the I04s. Today there was no mention of the I27s and the I65s. Oversight? Possibly, there were a lot of whales and a lot of movement. Starting at midnight the A54s, the A23s and the A25s headed into Johnstone Strait after being met by their I15 (I16) companions in Blackfish Sound. These I15s had especially gone through Blackney Pass into Blackfish Sound for the meeting. All together the groups filed into the Strait and went east. Over the next almost three hours they made progress towards the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, finally touching down at Strider beach for a rub at 2:43pm. This five minute rub, that involved some of the I15s and the A54s, was a good deal shorter than the rubs the A54s indulged in last year when they would stay for nearly three hour sessions. On this occasion they finished quickly and skipped along to the adjacent Main beach where they rubbed for three minutes before continuing on to the east. Distant calls then endured for several hours until a break ensued just before 6am. The whales had not really gone far and by 7:47am were vocal again and in better range of the Reserve hydrophones. They were on their way back. The I15 calls were the most distinctive. The whales were spread out with some foraging. Visual reports surfaced. At 9am the Achiever was reported stationary off Robson Bight with at least three orcas surrounding them. Earlier a male orca and two others had been seen crossing to the Cracroft Island shore. Perhaps after finding a bite to eat and tired from their long journey into the area (a lot of it against the current) some whales took a long needed rest in Robson Bight around 10:30am. At this time other whales, perhaps the A23s, were seen as far east as Naka Creek. By 11:13am whales were spotted off the Cracroft Island side of the Strait. Scotty now mentioned the I04s and the A54s resting together off Boat Bay. Finally the now identified I16s who had been resting near the estuary of the Tsitika River in Robson Bight for most of the morning began to exit to the west. Half an hour later these same whales were as far west as Kaikash beach. Although the general direction was to the west, whales had woken up enough to forage along the way. At some point the I16s crossed over to the Cracroft side and at 12:42pm they started through the entrance of Blackney Pass all together. The current, as of 12:25pm, was against them and although they made it out of MeganŐs and the remote cameraŐs view they never made it sufficiently far enough for the Lab to see them. They remained out of sight until 1:22pm. They were still fighting the current when Megan saw them again and a short while later they turned west and abandoned, for the moment, any thoughts about going through the entrance to Blackney. Meanwhile, the A54/I04 group slowly, but with some energy too, moved west. Cetus now reported that several other groups were passing by, following the A54s. The opposing current was really slowing down efforts. The I16s had not gotten very far to the west before they drifted out towards mid strait where the Kaizumi hydrophone picked up their calls. Before 2pm Megan was watching the A23s forage with the A25s further offshore. At 2pm the A54s looked great as they moved along. Juliette did a great job on the remote camera capturing the playful group. A54 and her daughter A86 both have new babies this year. Just after they passed Cracroft Point, Bigg's orcas were heard in Blackfish Sound. Amazingly they were quickly located on the remote camera. They were very distant off the top end of Blackfish Sound. They continued to call intermittently. They looked to be engaged in a hunt before continuing to cross Blackfish Sound from nearer the Hanson Island side by which time they had attracted a few boats and kayakers. By 2:11pm a group of BiggŐs orcas was reported coming out of West Pass and heading west along Swanson Island . Not sure if these were the same or different from the group who had been at the western end of Blackfish Sound earlier. There were BiggŐs calls again at 2:17pm, 2:19pm, 2:22pm, and finally at 2:23pm. At 2:27 BiggŐs orcas were located mid Blackfish Sound and identified as the T055s as they moved toward Bold Head by 2:38pm. At 2:45pm there were now loud BiggŐs calls along with echolocation. Just before 2pm the BiggŐs orcas turned southeast travelling the Swanson Island shore. Eventually, the T055s were, by chance, seen on the very far side of Blackney at the northern tip of Parson Island. Their long dives and distance made it difficult to keep up with them as they travelled south toward the Bell Rocks before 4pm. These calls and reports of this activity in Blackfish somewhat of necessity divided our attention from the resident orcas who were still very active themselves as they continued to pass in front of Megans and carry on west of Cracroft Point. Megan summarised her observations at 2:06pm. She had seen the A23s first and closest with the A25s further offshore. The I16s were now west of Cracroft Point moving closer to Vancouver Island. And the A54s were now foraging off the entrance to Blackney Pass. Eat, rest, play. The most advanced group (the A54s) turned to the Hanson Island shore and started back east towards the entrance of Blackney. As the orcas were sorting themselves the scene off the entrance to Blackney Pass became crowded with jet skis, three cruise ships and other small boats. Probably, this and the presence of Resident orcas discouraged the BiggŐs orcas from venturing closer to Johnstone Strait. Just after 5pm BiggŐs were heard in Blackfish Sound once again from 5:05pm until 5:18pm and visually seen at 5:26pm when off the Ňtop endÓ of Blackfish Sound, back where all the BiggŐs action had begun hours ago. By this time the Resident orcas were back in a jumble in the rip just west of Cracroft Point. It was now about an hour and half before the tide would turn in their favour. As is often the case, orcas will mount an effort to take advantage of currents shortly before the actual, in the book, slack. The advantage is that they will have the current with them during the majority of their journey. At first there was a shift towards the Hanson Island shore then a slow push towards Blackney Pass. They first came into view at 5:46pm. They had finally made it! The A54s appeared to be leading at least some of the I15s (?I4s) and lastly the A25s. They were quite spread out and moving efficiently but playfully forward. By 6:47pm all were in Blackfish Sound keeping the same energy as they moved into the late afternoon glare. However, some of the residents were missing. The A23s and the I16s were yet to be seen. At 5:30pm orcas, who had come from Beaver Cove, had been reported off of Telegraph Cove moving eastward. The A23 and the I16s then turned up mid channel in Blackney Pass at 7:20pm. They wasted no time getting to Blackfish Sound and heading into the sunset. Calls dropped off by 9pm. That was it! A complicated day much simplified. For a few hours the night was uneventful. The next day's story would begin at 1:30am.

OrcaLab
03 Sep 2023 11:36:00 PDT



September 1 2023 Northern Residents: I15s,A54s, A23s, A25s [A52s, C10s Queen Charlotte Strait] Humpback Whales: Quartz, Argonaut Pacific White-sided dolphins September is here, and as the days are becoming shorter the humpback whales are becoming more vocal. There were humpback social calls and grunts from 1:30am until 3am, then at 3:22am distant I15 orca calls were heard on the Flower Island hydrophone in Blackfish Sound. By 3:48am the orca calls were closer on the Flower Island system, and the humpback calls were now on Parson Island hydrophone in Blackney Pass.. At 4am the orca calls on Flower were much closer, accompanied by Pacific White-sided dolphins. It was 4:40am when 4 to 5 orca blows were heard opposite the Lab, the I15s were travelling south towards the entrance of Blackney Pass. At 5:09 echolocation could be heard on the Kaizumi hydrophone, indicating that they had entered the Strait and had travelled towards the Vancouver Island shore, in an easterly direction. At 5:45am I15 orca calls could still be heard on the Kaizumi hydrophone, then there was a pause in all acoustic activity. This lasted until 7:20am, when rubbing was heard on in the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve on the Strider beach hydrophone , just 3 rubs, a few calls then they travelled towards Main beach. They became quite vocal at this point, when suddenly there were 2 more rubs heard on the Strider hydrophone. On the surface camera one male and one female were sighted. Just like the first group, they each had one very quick rub and headed towards the east. It was an extremely low tide, which may have been the reason behind the decision not to rub on the beach this morning, and continue east. It was extremely foggy and they had gone silent by 8:15 am. At 1:25pm there was a report from the Achiever that near Port Hardy the A25s and A54s had been sighted, as well Cetus reported 9 orca (the I15s) near Naka Creek travelling west. At 4:30pm the A54s had already gone for a Rub at Bere Point. Meanwhile at 5:00pm distant echolocation was heard on the Main beach hydrophone, soon followed by I15 calls, which continued until 6:20pm. Orcas were apparently converging slowly from both directions. The current worked in favour for the westbound I15s but not for the orcas coming from Queen Charlotte Strait. At 6:35pm Kate, from Bere Point, reported the A23s, A52s, and C10s had just passed and were heading east. Jared was off Lizard Point with the A25s. Kate was so excited about the arrival of the C10s in particular as it had been a while since their last visit. The calls of the I15s were heard again on the Main rubbing beach and one group of 5 orca were seen, with one male and and Pacific White-sided dolphins, travelling offshore towards the west. It was at 7:30pm that A1 calls were heard for the first time this year at OrcaLab! The A54s had drawn closer to Blackfish Sound. At the same time I15 calls were getting closer to the Kaizumi hydrophone in the Strait. A reunion was anticipated but how would the whales pull it off with current conditions not very favourable. Jared had soon found the A23s but not the A52s and the C10s. Amidst a beautiful sunset at 8:20pm very distant orcas were seen off the western end of Blackfish Sound on the Flower Island remote camera. Along with the gradually stronger A54 calls were A5 calls as well. Progress into Blackfish Sound was very slow. A lone humpback off in the distance as well in Blackfish Sound made a few bubble net feeding calls. Each to his own! Meanwhile, the waiting I15s were marking time by pacing mid strait east of Cracroft Point. As the A30 (the A54s) and A5 (the A23s and A25s) calls became even more frequent and lounder - it was apparent that they were determined to come east in Blackfish Sound against the current - blows from the northbound I15s were heard in front of the Lab at 9pm. The I15s, taking advantage of the still ebbing tide had decided to take the initiative. It was a very calm night, so counting their blows was fairly straight forward. At 9:12pm, they joined the other groups, close excitement calls from all groups followed. The ŇmeetingÓ continued until at 11:30pm the whales had come to a collective decision to make a try for Johnstone Strait on the tail end of the ebbing tide. Slack water was to be at 12:22am. The A54s led, then the A5 group and finally the I15s, all entering Johnstone Strait by midnight to continue their journey east together, It was going to be a very busy evening in the Strait and the beaches! All at the Lab and those listening were still happy that at least part of the A30s had made it back, summer was just not the same without them.

OrcaLab
02 Sep 2023 11:47:45 PDT



August 31 2023 Northern Residents: [ I15s, I31s heard] Biggs orcas: heard in Blackfish Sound Humpback Whales: Inukshuk, Guardian and Baby, Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins Just after 1am a humpback in Blackfish Sound let out with a pretty good set of calls. It did not last long but it was very distinctive, getting the attention of everyone near and far. At 3:10am Tomoko listening in Japan heard a very faint I31 call. Suddenly things began happening everywhere. Dolphins had already begun to chatter in Johnstone Strait in the midst of another (or perhaps the same?) humpback also now in the same locale. Ten minutes later, at 3:14am, there were very distant I15 calls with another set of dolphins in Blackfish Sound followed by now clearer and more frequent I31 calls. Previously, the evening before, the I15s and I31s had followed the A23s to the west in Johnstone Strait around 8pm. This begged the question - had they taken all this time (7-8 hours) to travel the distance from Telegraph Cove to the Ňtop end of Blackfish Sound via Weynton Pass? Perhaps they were reluctant to leave. When their calls faded around 4: 15am they must have continued into Queen Charlotte Strait where, in still slow form, they lingered even more. Kate could hear them on her Bere Point hydrophone at 7:30am and at 9am they were still there. Dense fog prevented her from seeing them but she estimated from the strength of their blows that they were about 3 miles offshore. They disappeared shortly afterwards. Neither of us heard any A5 calls so it is not understood what happened to the A23s. The humpback who had been in Johnstone Strait with the dolphins kept up a presence for an hour after the orcas disappeared from Blackfish Sound. After 5:17am it became ŇquietÓ and it would remain so all day. Focus naturally shifted to observing the humpbacks in Blackney Pass. Inukshuk came by in the morning fog close to the Hanson Island shore and in the later afternoon when the fog had disappeared Guardian and her baby showed up with Quartz not far away. The uneventful day had slipped by in a relaxed sort of way in the absence of busy orcas. As the dark settled in and the wind began to rise, Biggs orcas called briefly around 8:45pm in Blackfish Sound adding a final short entry in the book.

OrcaLab
01 Sep 2023 08:35:26 PDT



August 30 2023 Northern Residents: A23s, I65s,I27s, I35s, ?I04s, ?I33s Biggs orcas: T049As Humpback Whales: Quartz Pacific White-sided dolphins A pretty straightforward day: A Humpback making ŇnoisesÓin Blackfish Sound throughout the early morning hours; Resident orcas; a group of Biggs orcas and of course dolphins, lots of dolphins. Now the details. The humpback was active from 2:25am until approximately 4am, - they do seem to be getting their voices ready for the Fall. The Resident orcas came back from eastern Johnstone Strait where they had spent the rest of yesterday and most of this dayŐs morning. At 8:13am Patrick relayed that ten orcas were westbound near Yorke Island in the Sayward region of the Strait. By 11:29am, very faint calls were detected on the Main rubbing beach hydrophone. More than an hour later (12:51pm) a group of orcas was reported heading west from Naka Creek. Quite amazing to think that the reach of the Main beach hydrophone extends that far east! The dolphin calls started not long afterwards. It took a while longer for the A23s to reach the eastern boundary of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve where the Cliff Research group saw them at 1:47pm. It was 2:17pm when they touched the Main rubbing beach briefly. Just before this occurred the T049As were seen further west at 2:10pm near Kaikash beach. They were also headed west. The A23s passed Strider beach without bothering to rub. They were fairly spread out and had dolphins alongside them as they passed. By 2:30pm, they had disappeared to the west. Attention then shifted back to the Main beach where ŇGÓ clan calls started to be heard. From several previous reports there were several groups making their way west from the Cracroft island shore to Vancouver IslandŐs. With the help of the remote camera a line of orcas offshore proceeded west then made a right angle turn towards the rubbing beaches arriving first at Main at 3:30pm then travelling on to Strider beach a couple of minutes later. There was a very good pass underwater by a couple of the west bound orcas. These I15s became very involved at Strider. Their rub began at 3:35pm and did not end until 3:55pm. Their calls at times were so clear and loud that they echoed back to the Main beach hydrophone. Distant I31s were also heard during this session. The I31s, in reverse of the day beforeŐs parade, were following the I15s and the A23s west and would soon arrive for their turn at the beaches after the I15s moved on. Hard to understand what the dolphins are playing at. They come right in with the orcas at the beaches and are very energetic around them. The orcas seem to respond by moving away offshore then turn back. Sometimes this works and the dolphins ease off but the dolphins seem undeterred most of the time and will carry on flanking the orcas to and fro. The dolphins donŐt ever rub but their body movements through the water create loud water noises at times. At 3:59pm the I31s (specifically the I35s at first) began to rub . Again the orcas looked as if they were playing dodge with the dolphins and this rub was over by 4:08pm. As the orcas streamed past the beaches there would be another quick touch down and then a longer effort from 4:19pm until 4:25pm. A young sea lion poked his head up and watched as the orcas and the dolphins left to the west. Disturbing news was posted that around 3pm a large fuel spill had occurred around the Telegraph Cove area. The westbound T049As were nearby by 3:25pm and the Resident orcas would advance in that direction eventually. Jared Towers, who was out on the water, went by the area later in the afternoon and commented that the gasolene smell was very bad between Telegraph Cove and Alert Bay but that there was no sheen on the water. Before the last rub ended at 4:25pm the A23s had maintained their sizable lead passing Kaizumi and carrying on to the west. The I15s and the following I31s would not get there until around 5:15pm by which time they were quite spread out with groups favouring both shores and mid strait. By 7pm, the lead Resident orcas had arrived off Telegraph Cove with others headed in that direction from across the Strait. Their calls faded soon after 8pm. This is where events of the day ended. A hot shower and sauna were next on the agenda.

OrcaLab
31 Aug 2023 10:48:45 PDT



August 29 2023 Northern Residents: I33s, I35s, I04s, I27s, I65s, A5 calls heard Humpback Whales: Pacific White-side dolphins YesterdayŐs thunderstorm with its so welcomed rain seemed to wipe the slate clean and bring new life to the Johnstone Strait area. Always harbingers of a sort, dolphins chatted off the far end of the Ecological Reserve from 12:40am until 12:52am and then became distant. Even though the rest of the night was uneventful, change was happening far to the west. Dawn opened to a misty/ smokey morning with two humpback whales travelling slowly in the fog towards the entrance of Blackney Pass at 7am. After a bit of dolphin in Blackfish Sound the orca reports began. Five orcas in Blackfish Sound were headed east. A brief burst of calls and echolocation at 11am announced that ŇG clan orcas were in the neighbourhood. The distant glimpse of two orcas offered insufficient clues as they corrected their movement toward Weynton Pass. Meanwhile, near Kelsey Bay, in the eastern reaches of Johnstone Strait, four unidentified orcas were seen travelling west. At the same time, Kate, at her Bere Point camp, had two other groups come from the west and go in for a brief rub before continuing on into Trinity Bay to the east. She looked at her photos and identified the I65s, I27s and other members of the I15 family. It was Jim BorrowmanŐs turn next. At 11:50am the I33s entered Johnstone Strait from Weynton Passage. They were followed at 12:18 by the rest of the I31 family, the I35s. It was not clear if the I68s were there as well. So by now Johnstone Strait was quite crowded by a parade of whales. The first task at hand was to follow the I31s eastward. Just after 1pm they were mid strait approaching Kaikash Creek. They were moving quickly. As they neared Kaizumi beach to the east at least two had moved closer to the Vancouver Island shore with the intention of going for a rub. The rub lasted until 1:22 pm and involved five individuals. From there, the I31s carried on eastward. The Cliff Research site opposite Robson Bight on Cracroft Island reported their progress to Critical Point at the eastern end of Robson Bight. The whales as we had witnessed on the remote cameras were very spread out. It was now 2:30pm and the I31s were proceeding toward the rubbing beaches. Curiously though they only did a cursory rub at 2:49pm and shifted along to the Main beach where they did not rub either despite their clear and close calls and echolocation. There was a lot of echoing of calls between the two beaches which are in fairly close proximity to each other. By 3:03pm some were ready to commit to a longer, more definite effort at Strider beach. The rub went until 3:30 during which we suspected that the rest of the I31s had caught up to the lead whales who we thought to be the I33s who had already moved on. Eventually, this entire group left to the east. In the next while, a large group of dolphins, favouring the Cracroft Island side, travelled east. Soon after it became apparent that the I15s had arrived in the Strait after taking Weynton Pass like their other ŇGÓ clan members. It was now 4:30pm. It was difficult to assign the few A5 calls heard from this time on. The last sighting of the A23s was yesterday evening when they travelled east past the Boat Bay camp. Was this them returning or had unidentified A25s accompanied the I15 groups into the area? Just too few calls. This was a wait and see, Almost an hour after arriving in the Strait, the I15 groups closed in on the Kaizumi beach area. But they did not rub. Were they just not interested or were they distracted? Once past they made an interesting detour offshore towards other orcas being followed by rushing dolphins. Together they turned inshore once again when past Izumi Rock and resumed going forward toward the Ecological Reserve. A boat had been following them and had actually come in between individuals when the whales did this odd manoeuvre. A5 calls picked up around 6:10pm. By 6:49pm whales were approaching Strider and two minutes later a rub started. This rub, which would have many phases and involve different individuals, really lasted until 8:30pm. The intervals were: 6:51pm to 6:56pm; 7:12pm to 7:40pm; 7:49pm to 7:50pm; 8:01pm to 8:02pm and finally 8:22pm tp 8:30pm. It was noted that sea lions at 6:58pm were amongst the orcas and that at 7:49pm many dolphins (who had followed the orcas from the west) crowded the scene. The orcas dealt with it by going offshore for a moment or two before returning. It was determined that the I15 families, like their I31 predecessors, travelled east from the Ecological Reserve. Their calls faded away by 8:38pm. Only a lone vocal humpback figured during the next portion of the night. At 10:37pm, this humpback made a few quite lovely deep and guttural vocalisations somewhere not far from the Parson Island hydrophone. It was over far too soon leaving only annoyingly persistent loud boat noise to shape the soundscape. We bid Hannah and her family good-by earlier in the day. It was a short but sweet visit. On their way to Telegraph Cove they encountered the incoming I31s. Paul, usually so careful to avoid whales, had not been aware they had already come into Johnstone Strait when he departed. Hannah had delayed the departure in the hope that the whales were going to drop into Blackney Pass and as it was taking too long they left. It was a bit of a surprise to say the least that they saw whales on their way. Fortunately the Warden boat was able to alert them and Paul stopped the boat and waited for the whales to pass. As night fell the near full moon brightened the surrounding clouds and spilled light on to the ocean below. Later we learned that JŽrŽmie and Claire made it back to France! Their journey and this night was almost done.

OrcaLab
30 Aug 2023 10:18:50 PDT



August 28 2023 Northern Residents: A23s, unidentified group Humpbacks : Fallen Knight, Inukshuk, Quartz, Guardian and baby possibly Pacific White-sided dolphins The last report of the A42s and the Bs, and possibly the I16s and A23s was from Kate who heard their calls near Bere Point just after midnight. At the lab it was an evening of silence on the hydrophones, except of course for boat noise. Just before 8am there was echolocation on the Flower Island hydrophone and at 8:18am A60 was seen heading south at West Pass with the rest of the A23s closer to our side opposite White Beach Pass. There were a few N3 calls, but for the most part they were very quiet. At 8:30am they were spread out in 3 groups from Parsons Light to Parson Island with A60 and A95 in the lead. By 8:45am they had cleared the view of the Lab as they headed towards Johnstone Strait. They angled towards the middle of the Strait between Cracroft and the Sophia Islands. The A5 calls on the Kaizumi hydrophone indicated this movement across the Strait. Due to the amount of smoke in the air it was difficult to see the A23s on the remote camera until they were near Izumi Rock at 9:30am. At 10:43am the Cliff Research site reported the A23s approaching Critical Point (the eastern headland of the Robson Bight). A60 was a bit offshore from the rest of his group the whole time they were easting through Robson Bight. When his family went in for a rub at Strider Fife (A60) did not rub but crossed over to the Cracroft Island side. At 10:50am the rubbing started on Strider, lots of chuffs (displacement of the pebbles), and calls, beautiful footage over the camera and live on www.explore.org. This rub lasted until 11:27am when the orca made a turn back to the west. A60 went under the Cliff on Cracroft Island headed west at 12:21pm. It was 12:45pm before the rest of the A23s approached Kaizumi beach along with a group of Pacific White-sided dolphins. A60, still separated from the group, continued to travel closer to Cracroft Island headed now towards the entrance of Blackney Pass. He and the rest on the other side continued for a while longer to the west. At some point the majority of the group circled around and negotiated a turn back towards the entrance of Blackney Pass along with A60. By 2:30pm the A23s were once again going through Blackney, this time to the north, with A60 leading the way. They were directly in front of the Lab by 2:40pm, mid way, with at least 3 boats following. At 2:50pm they cleared to the north, separated into 3 groups. Soon they were on the Flower Island camera, spread out in Blackfish Sound, with a group of over 40 dolphins. By 3:15pm there were no calls and they were no longer visible. Out of view for some time, they turned back to the south and were now once again in front of the Lab by 4:30pm, not a single call had been heard! As was the theme for the day, A60 was leading, with the rest of the A23s in a tight group, travelling very slowly in a resting line. This was also an entire day of thunder and lightning, very dramatic, but this did seem to have any impact on the whales at all. At one point A60 joined his family, and when this happened they suddenly changed direction that only lasted for a few breaths. Then, with A60 in the group, they continued in slow motion, resting and travelling very relaxed, making long dives, coming to the surface for a few breaths, then back down, side by side. At 5:50pm they cleared into the entrance of Blackney Pass but this time travelled west on the Cracroft remote camera. At some point they changed their minds and a report at 8:10pm from Cliff confirmed that the A23s were easting past their Boat Bay camp, close to the Cracroft shore. We expected to hear calls on one of the rubbing beaches to follow, but the only sound we heard was the continuing thunder, followed by lightning, lasting until 10pm, then all was quiet.

OrcaLab
29 Aug 2023 13:21:52 PDT



August 27 2023 Northern Residents: A42s (A94), B07s [A23s, I16s, A52s Port Hardy area] Humpbacks: Stitch, Argonaut, Quartz What a difference a day makes. The entries in the log book cover just 3 pages! Theday started promisingly enough with faint calls from the A42s and B07s still in Johnstone Strait at 12:33am. The calls would remain distant until 1:03am. All of this suggested the orcas were to the west and probably moving north into Weynton Pass. A few more unsourced calls occurred at 6:49am. We suspect that the whales had come through to Blackfish Sound and were now headed to Queen Charlotte Strait. Kate at Bere Point saw and identified the A42s and the B07s when they approached Bere Point at 10:23am from the east. They continued west. Later, at 1:12pm they turned and had a long and energetic rub and then turned around to the west once more. The rubbing beach at Bere Point is a concern and great frustration to Kate who camps on the beach in order to monitor whales and keep an eye on humans as well. The beach is open to the Public and attracts many visitors. Despite just plain common sense and KateŐs educational efforts, the whales are often subjected to overly excited people when rubbing happens. It is really too bad because this beach is easily accessible and therefore a privilege to be there. Perhaps people fall victim to believing they can do no harm with their enthusiasm, treating each rubbing event as if it were a show at a captive facility. Too harsh? Not really. This ocean is the orcasŐ home. It is never acceptable to crash into someoneŐs home. If only people understood the benefits of being quiet, still and in awe. The pay off? The moment will, guaranteed, be deeper and more profound - who could ask for anything more than that? Additional notes for the day. Thirty orcas were travelling south-east (an encouraging direction!) at 4:50pm. This turned out to be the A23s with the I16s off Deer Island. The Bs and the A42s were ahead of them resting. The A52s were there as well. Thanks Scotty for this report. Are they on their way back? Maybe - Kate reported late at 11:35pm that there were orcas rubbing again at Bere Point. Arriving just in time for dinner we welcomed Hannah, Indie, Zephyr and Sam for a short visit.

OrcaLab
28 Aug 2023 07:53:58 PDT



August 27 2023 Northern Residents: A42s (A94), B07s Humpbacks: Stitch, Argonaut, Quartz What a difference a day makes. The entries in the log book cover just 3 pages! Theday started promisingly enough with faint calls from the A42s and B07s still in Johnstone Strait at 12:33am. The calls would remain distant until 1:03am. All of this suggested the orcas were to the west and probably moving north into Weynton Pass. A few more unsourced calls occurred at 6:49am. We suspect that the whales had come through to Blackfish Sound and were now headed to Queen Charlotte Strait. Kate at Bere Point saw and identified the A42s and the B07s when they approached Bere Point at 10:23am from the east. They continued west. Later, at 1:12pm they turned and had a long and energetic rub and then turned around to the west once more. The rubbing beach at Bere Point is a concern and great frustration to Kate who camps on the beach in order to monitor whales and keep an eye on humans as well. The beach is open to the Public and attracts many visitors. Despite just plain common sense and KateŐs educational efforts, the whales are often subjected to overly excited people when rubbing happens. It is really too bad because this beach is easily accessible and therefore a privilege to be there. Perhaps people fall victim to believing they can do no harm with their enthusiasm, treating each rubbing event as if it were a show at a captive facility. Too harsh? Not really. This ocean is the orcasŐ home. It is never acceptable to crash into someoneŐs home. If only people understood the benefits of being quiet, still and in awe. The pay off? The moment will, guaranteed, be deeper and more profound - who could ask for anything more than that? Additional notes for the day. Thirty orcas were travelling south-east (an encouraging direction!) at 4:50pm. Could it be ŇourÓ gang? The A23s,I16s,A42s and B07s number 27 individuals. Are they on their way back? Maybe - Kate reported late at 11:35pm that there were orcas rubbing again at Bere Point. Arriving just in time for dinner we welcomed Hannah, Indie, Zephyr and Sam for a short visit.

OrcaLab
28 Aug 2023 07:05:53 PDT



August 26 2023 Northern Residents: A42s, B07s (A23s,I16s retreating through Blackfish Sound) Pacific White-sided dolphins With the A23s and the I16s retreating silently through Blackfish Sound after midnight our attention shifted to Johnstone Strait where we knew that the B07s and the A42s remained. An hour went by before Pacific White-sided dolphins preceded the arrival of the B07s from the east. By 1:20am the Bs had moved fully into range of Strider beach hydrophone. Their calls echoed to nearby Main beach as they moved westward. Sure enough their calls next registered on the Kaizumi beach system from 2:25am to 2:30am. Continuing progress west, with perhaps a shift offshore, meant that the Bs were also heard on the Cracroft Point system. For about 20 minutes (from 3:14 - 3:34am) the Bs most likely continued west a while longer. Then at 3:55am faint echolocation on the Kaizumi system indicated that these whales had probably turned and were still offshore of the Vancouver Island shore. From 4am to 5:45am the Bs moved back eastward and found themselves then on the Strider beach where they participated in the first of a series of rubs. This one lasted 24 minutes during which the A42s revealed themselves acoustically at 6:16am. Were they only now coming up from the east or had they been silent partners on the Bs journey west and now east? At 6:20am the A42s were heard on Main beach as well. Some echolocation, calls and observed breaches on the Strider remote hydrophone and camera systems preceded a general travel eastward. It was now 6:28am. It became the A42s turn to rub at 6:37am signalling a quick backtrack to Strider. For their part the Bs were now distant acoustically. The A42s rub lasted 11 minutes. It was over at 6:46am. Once again the whales shifted east. The east-west vacillation continued. At 6:54am a group was seen heading west. The Bs, distant at first on Main beach, jumped in for a three minute Strider rub from 7:49am to 7:52am. They seemed to leave to the west but were not done with the beaches just yet. Sure enough the Bs turned back into Strider at 8:15am and rubbed until 8:21am. Restarting this rub at 8:25am the Bs seemed committed and the rub was quite a beautiful one until dolphins joined the orcas causing some apparent chaos and perhaps helping end this rub at 8:30am. At 8:34am, the orcas did an Ňin and outÓ rub and then formed a line along with the dolphins. After a deep dive offshore the orcas came up pointing to the west then turned and had another go at Strider. This rub started at 8:48am and ended at 8:54am. Again the dolphins were right there. As the Bs left west there was a breach perhaps signalling that now it was really time to go and get on with the rest of the morning. The dolphins might just have got the message as they travelled off in the opposite direction. The orcas travelled through the rest of the Reserve very slowly. It was that kind of day! They finally were west of the Reserve in their resting line by 11:33am all the while close to the Vancouver Island shore. A commercial fishing boat setting off Kaizumi might have discouraged the whales from continuing along the shore. B13 or ŇYaculta '' and one other orca were in the lead of the now offshore whales. It was a beautiful passing with the two companion groups in now mixed company as evidenced by A42, A79 and B16 travelling together. It was now 12:11pm. We had a sad departure. Long term assistants JŽrŽmie and Claire left OrcaLab for the start of their journey back to France. They came in June with the intention of staying only one month because they had pressing family events to get back to. They sorted these obligations out and decided to extend their stay. They did this at least twice more before leaving. Thei stay had lasted three wonderful months. Completely impossible to describe all that they did, sufficient to say the summer would have been completely different without them. As a last act JŽrŽmie baked six more loaves of his incredible bread for us to store in the freezer. He had become the LabŐs baker producing fresh bread nearly everyday. We will miss them terribly but hang on to their promise to return to their Canadian home next year. Bon Voyage nos amis, bien amicalement. Past Kaikash Beach our sightlines are quite stretched and because the whales were resting there were no obvious vocals to record and follow their progress easily. In these situations other reports are useful. Finally at 12:49pm word reached us that the two groups were off Telegraph Cove. They stayed in that vicinity with little details offered about their behaviours until 4:20pm after which they negotiated a turn to the east. With their afternoon rest over and perhaps stimulated by the decision to head east the whales became sporadically vocal on their new journey. Because the reach of the Strider beach hydrophone is quite extensive, calls were heard on both Kaizumi and Strider some distance to the west. Then at 5:12pm they gave it a pause and resumed calling only when off the Kaizumi area at 5:55pm. These calls echoed to the Cracroft station. The remote camera confirmed the impression that whales were offshore of Vancouver Island and still eastbound. At least some of the A42s must have advanced ahead of the B07s as they were at Strider from 6:13pm till 6:25pm while the B07s were still further west. The advanced A42s tried out Main beach three minutes after completing their effort at Strider. But this rub was over almost immediately as these whales moved eastward. While all this was happening at the ReserveŐs beaches, the Bs were still evidently closer to Kaizumi. There were some A42 calls heard along with the Bs. We remembered that A42 and A79 had been travelling with B16 so were not too surprised by this mixture of calls. These two matrilines have now spent days in each other's company and quite often it takes orcas some time before they break from their family ranks and begin more intimate socialising. It was a good sign. Just before 7pm the A42s who had been east after their earlier rub returned and passed over Strider beach. The Cliff research site conveyed the information that B13 was mid strait and headed for Robson Bight. At 7:52pm a resting line(that included 8+ individuals as well as B13) formed west of Strider Beach. These whales would begin to rub at 8pm. A42, A94,B13 and A79 were identified. The rub really ended at 8:13pm despite a short a break in between activity. Energetic dolphins once again interrupted the whalesŐ focus on the rub and they pulled away. By 8:26pm they had swung around to the west once more. By 8:34pm we could no longer see them on the remote camera and as they had fallen silent once more the night and the ocean belonged solely to them.

OrcaLab
27 Aug 2023 10:48:02 PDT



August 26 2023 Northern Residents: A42s, B07s (A23s,I16s retreating through Blackfish Sound) Pacific White-sided dolphins With the A23s and the I16s retreating silently through Blackfish Sound after midnight our attention shifted to Johnstone Strait where we knew that the B07s and the A42s remained. An hour went by before Pacific White-sided dolphins preceded the arrival of the B07s from the east. By 1:20am the Bs had moved fully into range of Strider beach hydrophone. Their calls echoed to nearby Main beach as they moved westward. Sure enough their calls next registered on the Kaizumi beach system from 2:25am to 2:30am. Continuing progress west, with perhaps a shift offshore, meant that the Bs were also heard on the Cracroft Point system. For about 20 minutes (from 3:14 - 3:34am) the Bs most likely continued west a while longer. Then at 3:55am faint echolocation on the Kaizumi system indicated that these whales had probably turned and were still offshore of the Vancouver Island shore. From 4am to 5:45am the Bs moved back eastward and found themselves then on the Strider beach where they participated in the first of a series of rubs. This one lasted 24 minutes during which the A42s revealed themselves acoustically at 6:16am. Were they only now coming up from the east or had they been silent partners on the Bs journey west and now east? At 6:20am the A42s were heard on Main beach as well. Some echolocation, calls and observed breaches on the Strider remote hydrophone and camera systems preceded a general travel eastward. It was now 6:28am. It became the A42s turn to rub at 6:37am signalling a quick backtrack to Strider. For their part the Bs were now distant acoustically. The A42s rub lasted 11 minutes. It was over at 6:46am. Once again the whales shifted east. The east-west vacillation continued. At 6:54am a group was seen heading west. The Bs, distant at first on Main beach, jumped in for a three minute Strider rub from 7:49am to 7:52am. They seemed to leave to the west but were not done with the beaches just yet. Sure enough the Bs turned back into Strider at 8:15am and rubbed until 8:21am. Restarting this rub at 8:25am the Bs seemed committed and the rub was quite a beautiful one until dolphins joined the orcas causing some apparent chaos and perhaps helping end this rub at 8:30am. At 8:34am, the orcas did an Ňin and outÓ rub and then formed a line along with the dolphins. After a deep dive offshore the orcas came up pointing to the west then turned and had another go at Strider. This rub started at 8:48am and ended at 8:54am. Again the dolphins were right there. As the Bs left west there was a breach perhaps signalling that now it was really time to go and get on with the rest of the morning. The dolphins might just have got the message as they travelled off in the opposite direction. The orcas travelled through the rest of the Reserve very slowly. It was that kind of day! They finally were west of the Reserve in their resting line by 11:33am all the while close to the Vancouver Island shore. A commercial fishing boat setting off Kaizumi might have discouraged the whales from continuing along the shore. B13 or ŇYaculta '' and one other orca were in the lead of the now offshore whales. It was a beautiful passing with the two companion groups in now mixed company as evidenced by A42, A79 and B16 travelling together. It was now 12:11pm. Past Kaikash Beach our sightlines are quite stretched and because the whales were resting there were no obvious vocals to record and follow their progress easily. In these situations other reports are useful. Finally at 12:49pm word reached us that the two groups were off Telegraph Cove. They stayed in that vicinity with little details offered about their behaviours until 4:20pm after which they negotiated a turn to the east. With their afternoon rest over and perhaps stimulated by the decision to head east the whales became sporadically vocal on their new journey. Because the reach of the Strider beach hydrophone is quite extensive, calls were heard on both Kaizumi and Strider some distance to the west. Then at 5:12pm they gave it a pause and resumed calling only when off the Kaizumi area at 5:55pm. These calls echoed to the Cracroft station. The remote camera confirmed the impression that whales were offshore of Vancouver Island and still eastbound. At least some of the A42s must have advanced ahead of the B07s as they were at Strider from 6:13pm till 6:25pm while the B07s were still further west. The advanced A42s tried out Main beach three minutes after completing their effort at Strider. But this rub was over almost immediately as these whales moved eastward. While all this was happening at the ReserveŐs beaches, the Bs were still evidently closer to Kaizumi. There were some A42 calls heard along with the Bs. We remembered that A42 and A79 had been travelling with B16 so were not too surprised by this mixture of calls. These two matrilines have now spent days in each other's company and quite often it takes orcas some time before they break from their family ranks and begin more intimate socialising. It was a good sign. Just before 7pm the A42s who had been east after their earlier rub returned and passed over Strider beach. The Cliff research site conveyed the information that B13 was mid strait and headed for Robson Bight. At 7:52pm a resting line(that included 8+ individuals as well as B13) formed west of Strider Beach. These whales would begin to rub at 8pm. A42, A94,B13 and A79 were identified. The rub really ended at 8:13pm despite a short a break in between activity. Energetic dolphins once again interrupted the whalesŐ focus on the rub and they pulled away. By 8:26pm they had swung around to the west once more. By 8:34pm we could no longer see them on the remote camera and as they had fallen silent once more the night and the ocean belonged solely to them. August 26 2023 Northern Residents: A42s, B07s (A23s,I16s retreating through Blackfish Sound) Pacific White-sided dolphins With the A23s and the I16s retreating silently through Blackfish Sound after midnight our attention shifted to Johnstone Strait where we knew that the B07s and the A42s remained. An hour went by before Pacific White-sided dolphins preceded the arrival of the B07s from the east. By 1:20am the Bs had moved fully into range of Strider beach hydrophone. Their calls echoed to nearby Main beach as they moved westward. Sure enough their calls next registered on the Kaizumi beach system from 2:25am to 2:30am. Continuing progress west, with perhaps a shift offshore, meant that the Bs were also heard on the Cracroft Point system. For about 20 minutes (from 3:14 - 3:34am) the Bs most likely continued west a while longer. Then at 3:55am faint echolocation on the Kaizumi system indicated that these whales had probably turned and were still offshore of the Vancouver Island shore. From 4am to 5:45am the Bs moved back eastward and found themselves then on the Strider beach where they participated in the first of a series of rubs. This one lasted 24 minutes during which the A42s revealed themselves acoustically at 6:16am. Were they only now coming up from the east or had they been silent partners on the Bs journey west and now east? At 6:20am the A42s were heard on Main beach as well. Some echolocation, calls and observed breaches on the Strider remote hydrophone and camera systems preceded a general travel eastward. It was now 6:28am. It became the A42s turn to rub at 6:37am signalling a quick backtrack to Strider. For their part the Bs were now distant acoustically. The A42s rub lasted 11 minutes. It was over at 6:46am. Once again the whales shifted east. The east-west vacillation continued. At 6:54am a group was seen heading west. The Bs, distant at first on Main beach, jumped in for a three minute Strider rub from 7:49am to 7:52am. They seemed to leave to the west but were not done with the beaches just yet. Sure enough the Bs turned back into Strider at 8:15am and rubbed until 8:21am. Restarting this rub at 8:25am the Bs seemed committed and the rub was quite a beautiful one until dolphins joined the orcas causing some apparent chaos and perhaps helping end this rub at 8:30am. At 8:34am, the orcas did an Ňin and outÓ rub and then formed a line along with the dolphins. After a deep dive offshore the orcas came up pointing to the west then turned and had another go at Strider. This rub started at 8:48am and ended at 8:54am. Again the dolphins were right there. As the Bs left west there was a breach perhaps signalling that now it was really time to go and get on with the rest of the morning. The dolphins might just have got the message as they travelled off in the opposite direction. The orcas travelled through the rest of the Reserve very slowly. It was that kind of day! They finally were west of the Reserve in their resting line by 11:33am all the while close to the Vancouver Island shore. A commercial fishing boat setting off Kaizumi might have discouraged the whales from continuing along the shore. B13 or ŇYaculta '' and one other orca were in the lead of the now offshore whales. It was a beautiful passing with the two companion groups in now mixed company as evidenced by A42, A79 and B16 travelling together. It was now 12:11pm. Past Kaikash Beach our sightlines are quite stretched and because the whales were resting there were no obvious vocals to record and follow their progress easily. In these situations other reports are useful. Finally at 12:49pm word reached us that the two groups were off Telegraph Cove. They stayed in that vicinity with little details offered about their behaviours until 4:20pm after which they negotiated a turn to the east. With their afternoon rest over and perhaps stimulated by the decision to head east the whales became sporadically vocal on their new journey. Because the reach of the Strider beach hydrophone is quite extensive, calls were heard on both Kaizumi and Strider some distance to the west. Then at 5:12pm they gave it a pause and resumed calling only when off the Kaizumi area at 5:55pm. These calls echoed to the Cracroft station. The remote camera confirmed the impression that whales were offshore of Vancouver Island and still eastbound. At least some of the A42s must have advanced ahead of the B07s as they were at Strider from 6:13pm till 6:25pm while the B07s were still further west. The advanced A42s tried out Main beach three minutes after completing their effort at Strider. But this rub was over almost immediately as these whales moved eastward. While all this was happening at the ReserveŐs beaches, the Bs were still evidently closer to Kaizumi. There were some A42 calls heard along with the Bs. We remembered that A42 and A79 had been travelling with B16 so were not too surprised by this mixture of calls. These two matrilines have now spent days in each other's company and quite often it takes orcas some time before they break from their family ranks and begin more intimate socialising. It was a good sign. Just before 7pm the A42s who had been east after their earlier rub returned and passed over Strider beach. The Cliff research site conveyed the information that B13 was mid strait and headed for Robson Bight. At 7:52pm a resting line(that included 8+ individuals as well as B13) formed west of Strider Beach. These whales would begin to rub at 8pm. A42, A94,B13 and A79 were identified. The rub really ended at 8:13pm despite a short a break in between activity. Energetic dolphins once again interrupted the whalesŐ focus on the rub and they pulled away. By 8:26pm they had swung around to the west once more. By 8:34pm we could no longer see them on the remote camera and as they had fallen silent once more the night and the ocean belonged solely to them.

OrcaLab
27 Aug 2023 10:14:06 PDT



August 25 2023 Northern Residents: A23s,A42s,A52s,B07s,I16s Humpbacks: Aquarius, Ripple Pacific White-sided dolphins Around here pretty much every new dayŐs events start where the last one ended. However, on August 25 there was a bit of a break in the activity from about 7:30pm the previous evening until past midnight. We had left off understanding that the B07s and A42s were headed east off Blinkhorn. Their progress after that was obscure. We were given no acoustic clues - our main tool at night. But at 1:07am there were finally some calls and apparently they had not gone far after all, so we picked up their trail as they headed east past the Cracroft Point/Kaizumi area. Progress was far from speedy over the next few hours. More likely they seemed to stall in this general area. Then starting around 4am they became very excited and at 4:18am a few distinctive A4 type calls were evident. Now, it was impossible for us to say exactly who was responsible for these calls. There could be two explanations. The A42s have been travelling with a member of the A4 pod for over two years. ŇMysteryÓ or A94, a young male, naturally belongs to the A24 matriline of the A4 pod and for some unknown reason he decided to join the A42s who are a matriline of the A5 pod. For sure they are cousins, even if only distant ones. It was possible that his voice became stronger in the mix of calls during the excited outpouring by the eastbound orcas. OR, the other explanation might have been that the A52s, who are also members of the A4 pod, had finally returned from the east and were letting their presence be known, causing not only those calls but perhaps the reason for all the excitement as well. Whatever the real story, the B07s and A42s were just after daybreak nearing the eastern end of the Ecological Reserve. The sun had risen bright red, influenced unfortunately by all the wildfires in the Interior. From 7:22am to 7:30am, the B07s rubbed at Strider beach and then one male orca touched down briefly at Main four minutes later. The A42s stayed offshore but continued eastward along with the Bs. All calls ended just before 8am as the whales went out of range. No sign yet of the A52s. Then at 10:05am, the A52s appeared heading west past Boat Bay where many of OrcaLabŐs group had gone and stayed the night on the invitation of the Wardens. The ŇBoat Bay PartyÓ is a long standing tradition. This year the Wardens kindly ferried everyone to and fro just as they had done last year. Unlike last year the weather was very co-operative, calm seas and no fog. Everyone had a lovely time and the westbound whales in the morning were a good reminder to hurry back. By 10:43am the A52s were passing under the Cliff Research camp (part of the Warden programme). By 11:04am Kory reported that they had passed Discovery KayakingŐs camp at the Sophia Islands. Throughout, the A52s were travelling fairly close to Cracroft Island and each other. These orcas made it to the entrance to Blackney Pass and into our view by 11:58am. They were still travelling close together and only made a few calls as they left Johnstone Strait and moved through past the Lab. By 12:22pm they were headed into Blackfish Sound and continued west to Queen Charlotte Strait where the A23s and I16s were spending the day. A few hours passed before any new developments. The A42s and the B07s had not returned and it was not until 4pm before there was any word about the A23s and the I16s. Slow seemed to be a theme for the day. The A23s rolled casually past Bere Point and into Trinity Bay. The I16s, likewise, almost an hour later at 4:50pm, followed suit. They too were in no hurry. Kate guessed, probably correctly, that the A52s were further offshore. Except for the A52sŐ more determined travel through Johnstone Strait earlier, it was a very slow day for the mostly Ňtake a breakÓ resting other orcas. We finally heard the A23s and the I16s arrive in Blackfish Sound at 8:02pm. Scotty offered the information that specifically the A23s were eastbound off Bold Head on Swanson Island and that the A52s had earlier gone into nearby Weynton Passage at 7:40pm. The scene had become a little bit livelier with calls and echolocation, but as the light was fading fast we crossed our fingers that the incoming whales would make it to Blackney Pass before dark. They just made it! A60 led his group mid channel just before 9pm. Soon after the dark really closed in. Losing the light was rather nice in the end as the whales favoured the Hanson Island side of mid channel and their blows were clearly heard through the quickly darkening gloom. Megan at Cracroft Point heard the first blows at 9:13pm as the A23s emerged from the Pass amidst a lot of dolphins. But as midnight grew closer the dayŐs story was not yet complete. Although the I16s came into Blackney Pass after the A23s, and we heard their calls as they passed the Lab at 9:21pm and Parson Island at 9:38pm, they never really made it to the Strait. By 11:23pm they were back in Blackfish Sound and had seemingly drawn the A23s back along with them.

OrcaLab
26 Aug 2023 09:39:58 PDT



August 24 2023 Northern Residents: I16s, A23s, B7s, A42s, A52s (Georgia Strait) Biggs: T073As, T002Cs, T034s, and T037s Pacific White Sided Dolphins Humpback Whales : Quartz The solution to some mysteries are worth waiting for: We had wondered for several days what had happened to the A52s who had come in with the I12s on August 20th. We learned that the I12s had gone back to the west as they were seen on the 21st north of Port Hardy. In the intervening days there were spotty reports of Resident orcas in the upper Georgia Strait area. Nothing conclusive and to make matters more confusing there were a lot of BiggŐs orcas in and around the same general area as these Resident reports. The prevailing thought was that one eco-type was being confused for the other. Then some conclusive photographic evidence turned up, the A52s were definitely there! Who, instead of staying with the I12s and leaving the area to the west, must have continued east into Georgia Strait on their own - rather like the well known habits of the A42s! Very tidy to know what happened and now we will just wait for them to return to these waters. The night here was quiet until early in the morning at 4:45am when dolphin calls were heard on the Main beach hydrophone, they were very vocal for over 30 minutes. At 6:26am, just as the sun was rising, we had a report from Megan at Cracroft Point outcamp that she could see the A23s and I16s close by heading west toward the entrance of Blackney Pass towards the Lab. Interesting that they were last heard to the east, and had made it this entire distance without a call being heard across the many hydrophones along the way. The tide was flooding and the orcas spent some time before making their entrance. While we waited on the deck we noticed over 100 Pacific White-sided dolphins near Parsons Bay porpoising towards the north. It was at 7:07am when we finally saw a few fins coming into view. The A23s were leading, in a tight family group with A60 just a few meters in the lead. The I16s came into view 11 minutes later at 7:18am, also in a tight family group. By 7:30am, the A23s were at Red Point and the I16s had not yet reached the north edge of Parson Island. Excitement calls began, mainly the I16 ŇGÓ clan calls just as the I16s started to split up, some foraged, and a few spyhopped as they passed Parsons Light. By 7:56am the A23s had cleared, as well as a few of the I16s, then a few minutes later all had cleared to the west. They were reported off Donegal Head, heading west at 11:40am. From there they continued west through Queen Charlotte Strait. At 1:36pm they were off Lizard Point. Progress was slow. Four had a rub at Bere Point at 5:30pm and eventually they were reported at 6:30pm near the north end of Malcolm Island still heading west Jared Towers had heard from Jim Borrowman who at 6:43am saw and identified this group of BiggŐs as the T073As while they were opposite his house in Telegraph Cove. This group went west past Alert Bay. Jared caught up with them and reported that at 11:23am they were now off Pulteney Point. Jared had not seen this group for a very long time. Now to the Bs and A42s! Unlike the A23s and I16s they had remained in Johnstone Strait and as far as we know were east of the Reserve from late yesterday afternoon. Silent all morning, they made a few calls on the Strider and Kaizumi hydrophones at 9:30am as they began their return to the west. These calls continued faintly until 10:39am, then there was a pause in all vocal activity. But as the B07s and A42s came closer calls were heard at 12:02pm on Main and Strider rubbing beach hydrophones. Rubbing followed at 12:13pm on Strider. We observed the Bs and A42s rubbing with the Strider camera, truly some of the most stunning footage this season. The rub lasted until 12:34pm. Afterwards the whales traveled west. By 1:40pm we could see the Bs and A42s on the Kaizumi camera. Although four were close to shore they did not rub and continued to the west. Megan at Cracroft Point reported that at 2pm the orcas were near Kaikash beach, along the Vancouver Island shore, still westing. By 3pm, all was quiet on the hydrophones. Jim Borrowman reported the Bs and A42s at 4:46pm, near Telegraph Cove, and that they had turned to the east. We had heard a couple of BiggŐs calls at 3:42pm but were not able to determine which station. Coincidentally, a group of at least 6 BiggŐs were reported by the Wardens traveling fast to the west near Critical Point. The BiggŐs orcas continued west and eventually came directly into the path of the now eastbound Resident orcas. At 7:02pm both were near Blinkhorn. Someone reported that the Bs looked as if they were chasing the BiggŐs. That would be a rare occasion as these two types of orcas usually avoid each other. At 7:32pm, the now estimated 11 BiggŐs were identified as the T002Cs, T034s, and T037s and were still travelling northwest near Telegraph Cove. The rest of the night was uneventful.

OrcaLab
25 Aug 2023 11:32:21 PDT



August 23rd NR: A23s, I16s, B7s, A42s Humpback Whale: Quartz There had been break in calls between midnight and 3am, when Megan and Momoko reported that they could hear blows off Cracroft Point, heading into Blackney Pass towards the lab. This would turn out to be the B07s and A42s. Agathe stood on deck, listening for blows. Meanwhile, the A23s and I16s had come back from Queen Charlotte Strait and were making a few calls along with echolocation in Blackfish Sound just prior to when the Bs and A42s traveled back from the east in Johnstone Strait, past Cracroft, and toward the entrance of Blackney Pass. By 3:20am the Bs and A42s were opposite the lab where Agathe was waiting. In short order, we could hear their calls on FIower Island as they entered Blackfish Sound. We are not sure how close the A23s and I16s came east in Blackfish Sound or even into Blackney Pass to meet with the Bs and A42s .A tug made it very difficult for us to count blows. We do know that the Bs and A42s turned around, went back through Blackney Pass and on towards Cracroft. Momoko heard many blows return at 4am, traveling east mid strait. At 5am, we could still hear A23 and I16s calls on Flower Island, accompanied by a few humpback social calls! By 6am, the A23s and I16s calls faded and we assumed they had gone west again for the time being. At 7am, the Bs and A42s were back at Strider and by 7:11am the rubbing began. The Bs shifted eastward and had another rub on the Main beach, and by 7:18am all rubs had ended. We continued to hear calls on the Main beach hydrophone. By 9:15am, they were spread out foraging. At 10:40am these groups turned west and moved back into Robson Bight. By 11:00am we could see them on the Kaizumi remote camera as they traveled west. They passed Kaizumi and then at 11:36am they made another turn towards the east. By 1:30pm they were back in the Bight on their way to the beaches. Rubs began again, first on Strider, and then at Main. At the same time, we were hearing closer A23 and I16 calls on Flower Island again. Committed now to coming into Blackney Pass some of the A23s were sighted, followed by A60 and then the I16s were seen at 3:50pm. They stayed in these family groups as they passed the Lab. By 4pm, the A23s, still leading the I16s, were opposite White Beach Pass. They cleared our view by 4:15pm with a swarm of boats surrounding them. We counted 15 boats, many of them sport fishing vessels, one research vessel and the Warden boat. From land this was a very unpleasant sight. To make matters more intense, one sport fishing boat at speed went right through the two families. The Warden boat spoke with them later in Johnstone Strait, but unfortunately the conversation did not go well apparently. While we were observing the A23s and I16s in front of the Lab, the Bs and A42s were having a long, very vocal rub on both the Main and Strider rubbing beaches. It was an interesting experience to watch one group of orca pass the Lab, while recording and listening to the vocalizations of a different acoustic family group. The rubbing ended at both beaches at 4:40pm and both the Bs and A42s traveled east in a resting line. Once the A23s and I16s were in Johnstone Strait they spread out from one another and began to forage, while angling east towards the Vancouver Island shore. At 5pm there was a burst of excited calls as they approached the Vancouver Island shore near Kaizumi, mainly the A23s calling, followed by the I16s. By 5:15 pm they were all traveling east towards Robson Bight with the I16s now in the lead close to the Vancouver Island shore. The A23s were not far behind, but further offshore. At 5:20pm we started to hear their calls on the Strider hydrophone. At 6:52pm, a beautiful I16 rub with lots of vocalizations, began on Strider beach. At 7:10pm a few rubs also occurred on the Main beach. At 7:22pm the rubs ended, and they all traveled east and by 7:40 pm, both the A23 and I16s calls were very distant. At 8:00pm there was a report of at least 14 orcas travelling east near the eastern end of the Reserve. The evening ended with all of the orcas to the east, a few very faint calls heard on the Strider hydrophone, and one very close humpback whale in front of the Lab!

OrcaLab
24 Aug 2023 11:26:50 PDT



August 22 2023 Northern Residents: B7s, A42s, I16s, A23s Humpback Whales: Quartz and Argonaut, Top Notch (off CP) The night continued with the same grouping of resident orca, the A42s traveling with B7s and the I16s with the A23s. By 2:45am we were listening to the A23s and I16s mainly on the Kaizumi hydrophone, and by early morning, once again it was all 4 groups, with rotating calls from Main rubbing beach to Strider with a few distance calls to the west on Kaizumi. This pattern continued until 7:30 am; this is when the rubbing began on the Strider rubbing beach. From the surface camera we could see at least 10 orcas, the rubbing lasted a few minutes, and then they turned back to the west. We had a report from the Cliff at 8:00 am that they could see 2 different groups of orca traveling very slowly to the west in the Bight. At 8:50am there was a report from the kayak camp on the SophiaŐs that the A23s and I16s had just passed heading west. The Bs and A42s had stayed on the Vancouver Island shore and by 8:50am we could see the Bs on the Kaizumi camera. The A23s and I16s continued west along the Hanson Island shore towards Weynton Pass and by noon we could hear their distinctive calls on the Flower Island hydrophone. After a long search we could see them, spread out foraging along the top end of Hanson Island from the Flower Island camera. They continued to travel to the west and were reported near Lizard point at 3:30pm and later, just after 7:00pm they rounded Bere Point. A43, along with a single male went in for a rub, then they all slowly headed west, clearing Bere Point at 8:45pm. The Bs and A42s however stayed in the Strait and had made a few loops from east to west, then at 4:30pm they were heading east back into the reserve. There was silence on the hydrophones for a short period of time as the whales were in a resting line, traveling slowly eastwards. They arrived at Strider at 5:40pm, the rest ended, and they began to rub. This rub would last almost an hour, the longest so far of the season. Both the B7s and A42s were there, taking turns rubbing, lots of excitement calls, the scene on the camera was phenomenal to observe. At 7:20pm the rub ended. At 7:45pm we could hear distant B calls on Cracroft Point, indicating another turn to the west, then a report from Boat Bay, they could see 1 group deep within the Bight, foraging and traveling west. At 8:20pm we could see orca on the Strider camera, and heard A5 calls, with distant B calls, they had all turned back east! By 8:30pm they were rubbing on Strider again and opened up with a series of A5 calls, this rub ended at 8:36pm. Both groups then turned and traveled towards the west and we could hear B and A5 calls on both main and strider hydrophones, with distant calls on Kaizumi. There was a report of orca blows seen at the SophiaŐs which confirmed a westerly travel at this time, but by 10:20pm they had turned back east for another late evening rub at the beaches. There was also the presence of humpback whales in front of the lab, with Quartz foraging for most of the day, and Argonaut joining in as the sun began to set. Orca calls continued throughout the night, and we now await to see if the A23s and I16s will return from the west.

OrcaLab
23 Aug 2023 22:05:59 PDT



August 21 2023 NR: A23s, I16s, A42s, B07s, I12s Pacific White-sided dolphins Biggs: Humpbacks:Inukshuk, Argonaut Just a step or two behind on this summary. It turned out to be a complicated day right from the start. We know that four pairs of groups remained in Johnstone Strait. These were the A23s, the I16s, the A42s and the B07s. We had totally lost track of the A52s and I12s shortly after they had entered Johnstone Strait the previous afternoon. It turned out that at sometime and somehow they left the area - perhaps soon after their entrance. We know this because later in the day Scotty found at least two of the I12s (there are only three members) near Port Hardy airport before 5pm. Scotty could not locate I138 nor the A52s.. At 1:20am distant A5s in Johnstone Strait became quite excited and a short while later the I16s were heard along with the A5s and Pacific White-sided dolphins. The calls in the Strait had been quite constant and captured by three of the remote hydrophones suggesting the whales were fairly spread out. At 1:57am the A42s and the B07s were a bit more specific. They started a rub at Strider. They were excited and fully into the rub. Some of the calls spilled over to nearby Main beach. By 2:07am the rub was over and from there the A42s and the B07s went east. The direction for the A23s and I16s had been more generally westward through the early hours. By daylight we were able to follow them on a remote camera. At 6:20am they were opposite Cracroft Point. As they crossed the entrance to Blackney Pass they made some very clear and beautiful calls then suddenly went very quiet as a huge cruise ship went through their ranks.They continued west to about Big Bay on Hanson Island by 7am. From there they doubled back to the entrance and at 7:35am they came through and into our view. A60 and A23s were in the lead with the I16s following in scattered groups. All cleared into Blackfish Sound by 8:05am. By 8:30am they were angling towards and approaching Queen Charlotte Strait. As they did so, Scotty found a group of BiggŐs orcas off Telegraph Cove (definitely not those regular T060s who were seen off Victoria!). There was just enough of a gap in the orca activity for us to sit down with James, Ed and Arabella for one last breakfast before their departure later in the morning. They had been so lucky to choose this week in August for their visit as it coincided with a lot of Northern Resident activity. We believe they had a very good time. Between 11:32am and 11:43am the A23s and the I15s were well into Queen Charlotte Strait and the BiggŐs had elected for Pearse Passage. By 12:38pm the BiggŐs orcas were off the Plumper Islands and soon to shift into Weynton Pass. Most likely these were the same BiggŐs to reappear off Donegal Head (seen by Alex) at 3:47pm and later back in Johnstone Strait just before 6pm having doubled back through Weynton Pass. By 8:26pm these BiggŐs were angling toward the Sophia Islands and by 8:50pm were passing the ŇPig RanchÓ on Cracroft Island (just east of the SophiaŐs). By 10m Boat Bay heard their blows pass mid strait. As a postscript to these wanderings, Pacific White-sided dolphins were heard not far away between 10:23 and 10:30pm. Meanwhile, the A23s and the I16s were doing the following. They continued west and reached the ŇtopÓ end of Malcolm Island from 3:11pm to 3:30pm. On their way west, Kate reported that they tried (only one young one succeeded)) to come in for a rub at Bere point but too much on shore human activity seemed to discourage the whales and they left. The A42s and the B07s were easting off Naka Creek around this same time period. It was at 4:46pm that Scotty located I12 and I105 near the Port Hardy airport. He returned to Lizard Point to try and find I138 unsuccessfully. At 6:49pm the A23s and I16s had retraced their steps to Donegal Head. They began to shift toward Weynton Passage about 12 minutes later. Claire, JerŽmie, Paul and Helna were at Double Bay in the late afternoon to have dinner with Michael Reppy and Ingrid Visser who was visiting the Sanctuary from New Zealand and is a friend of Paul, Helena, Ckaire and JŽrŽmieŐs. Ingrid is well known for her research on the New Zealand orcas and her dedication as an anti captivity advocate. It was a beautiful sunset as some of the visitors accompanied Scotty out to see the A23s and I16s as they moved toward Weynton Passage. Back at the Lab and before the dinner party returned, Inukshuk the humpback decided to take a rest close to the Lab around 7:40pm. . A lone sea lion came up to him and for a while the two interacted. And with this the long day pretty much wrapped up. The night would start yet another story!

OrcaLab
22 Aug 2023 14:34:19 PDT



August 20 2023 NR: A23, I16s, A42s,B07s,A52s, i12s Pacific White Sided dolphins Humpbacks: Stitch and Quartz There were four orca groups in Johnstone Strait after midnight that were coming west after having slipped past the Ecological Reserve the previous evening. The A42s had accompanied the B07s into the area via Broughton Strait and the A23s had hooked up with the I16s sometime east of the Ecological Reserve after the latter had arrived independently in the Strait and followed the other groups east. These group pairings would remain constant. In the midst of the western movement in the early hours a rub began at 1am, lasting for twelve minutes. At the same time there were a lot of clear B07 calls suggesting that they were the ones at the beach, some A5 and I16s were heard as well but further away. The A42s and the B07s continued west. By 9:30am they were seen between Blinkhorn and Little Kaikash Creek along the Vancouver Island shore by the Achiever research sailboat. The A23s and I16s however had not progressed as far west and at 8:05am they were still well within the Ecological Reserve. There was a seven minute rub at Strider beach by the I16s which lasted until 8:12am. After shifting momentarily eastward the A23s and the I16s returned to the Ecological Reserve by 9:11am. From there they would travel west along Vancouver Island together. While they were doing so the B07s and A42s headed toward them from the west. All four groups would ŇmeetÓ west of Izumi Rock around 11:15am. A sudden burst of excited calls at 11:25am acknowledged and declared the meeting. The A23s and I16s turned ahead of the B07/A42 group and took the inside passage past Izumi Rock and carried on eastward. The B07/A42 group followed suit but then a short distance past Izumi they began to change direction and by 12:03pm they were travelling back west. They would carry on, eventually crossing over to the Hanson Island shore from Blinkhorn from 1:55pm and carry on to the entrance of Weynton Pass. Meanwhile, Lucy suddenly noticed at 12:30pm there were A4 and I11 calls in Blackfish Sound! These whales travelled into Blackney Pass by 12:40pm where we identified the groups specifically as the A52s (A4 pod) and the I12s (I11pod). They had been seen together the day before in Queen Charlotte Strait. The combined group consisted of seven individuals who spread out mid channel as they travelled through the Pass. They cleared our view by 1:29pm and entered Johnstone Strait and Megan and NaiomiŐs view by 1:45pm. From Cracroft Point they continued east. The A23/I16 group, meanwhile, were back at Strider and at 3pm they had a four minute rub and another at 3:18pm. By the time the A52/I11 group had entered Johnstone Strait the B07/ A42 group had moved toward the entrance of Weynton Pass. But the flooding tide might have discouraged them and at 4:11pm they turned away and travelled east along the Hanson Island shore toward the entrance of Blackney Pass where they had another go at leaving Johnstone Strait at 5:03pm. Once again, they quit and allowed the remaining flood to carry them across toward the Ecological Reserve. So eventually by late afternoon/early evening all groups were in the general vicinity of the Boat Bay and Ecological Reserve. However, no one seemed to track what happened to the A52s and the I12s and because they made no calls we also did not have a clue about their whereabouts. A pretty exciting and extended rub began (7:23pm) soon after blows were seen approaching Strider beach. There was a sizeable group of dolphins there as well and pretty soon the orcas were rubbing both at Main and Strider simultaneously. By 7:30pm the A42s were still rubbing (it had started at 7:20pm) andt the B07s were continuing east from the Main beach. This part of the ŇlongÓ Strider rub ended at 7:35pm as the A42s then followed the Bs east. At 8pm more rubbing ŇchuffsÓ happened at Strider. The intermittent rub continued to 8:39pm during which we could hear the I16s in the distance so we suspected that the A23/I16 group was not too far away. Just before 9pm orcas were seen heading west. Over the next while the groups shifted both west and east and around Johnstone Strait. Throughout they kept their pairings as they continued to ŇDance with the one that brought you!Ó We faced a long, but interesting night ahead. This was James, Ed and ArabellaŐs last full day on Hanson Island. They would leave the next morning and on to their Vancouver Island adventure which was to include bear and whale watching and even surfing on the West Coast! We wish them well and thank them for a lovely visit.

OrcaLab
21 Aug 2023 12:23:34 PDT



August 19 2023 NR: A42s, A23s, B07s ,I16s Southern Residents - Georgia Strait\ I12s, A52s Port Hardy area Pacific White Sided Dolphins The Midnight Express: After their interesting choice of entry into the area, though Broughton strait, the A42s and the B07s headed east in Johnstone Strait, their progress registered by the various hydrophones at the remote sites. At 12:40am the A23s had arrived as well although it was unlikely that they took the same route. More likely they used either of the more traditional ways via Weynton Pass or Blackney Pass. Whichever, they effectively followed the A42s and B07s after reaching Johnstone Strait. The A42s, by 1am, were close to Strider Beach. Within 10 minutes they began a rub. Ten minutes later they did so again at Main Rubbing beach and then continued east from there. All three groups could be heard at the same time for a short while. The B07s and A42s continued east out of range of the hydrophones. The A23s, meanwhile, lagging about an hour and a half behind, went for their own four minute rub at Strider beach at 2:56am. This was followed by a quick minute rub at Main. They then seemed to move offshore and travel to the east a while longer. At 6:15am they were back opposite Main beach and headed towards Strider where at 6:30am they (all but A60) had a fairly decent rub for twenty-three minutes. They then travelled west along the Vancouver Island side with dolphins in tow. As they were doing so a report came in to say that 4 orcas were opposite Alert Bay headed west. We do not know who these whales were. Were they BiggŐs orcas? By 9am the A23s meanwhile passed Kaikash Beach. They had no intention of coming into Blackney Pass but carried on along the Vancouver Island shore until reaching Blinkhorn Peninsula where they turned at 10:25am. By now we were aware that there was another incoming group off Donegal Head as Jared Towers, on his way elsewhere, let us know at 9:43am. This would turn out to be at least the I16s. As we waited for the ŇnewÓ group to head our way the A23s were making their way east back to Strider beach where at 1pm they rubbed before continuing eastward. They were reported passing the ReserveŐs eastern boundary at 1:46pm. During the day a large group (40+) of Southern Resident orcas had made their way all the way to Cape Mudge, Quadra Island. Not unheard of for Southern Residents to be in Georgia Strait but it was rather unusual for them to come so far north. They had done this last year as well. OrcaLabŐs Suzie and Quin actually saw them when near Campbell River. With great determination on the part of those watching the remote cameras in the Lab, the I16s were located in Blackfish Sound at 2pm. On the remote Flower Island camera they travelled east relatively close to the Hanson Island shore. In just under an hour they came into our view. They were all together and still favouring our side. As they travelled through (along with several whale watching boats) they angled further out to mid channel. They were moving efficiently and by 3:08pm they had disappeared into the last part of the passage. Just seven minutes later they came into MeganŐs view from Cracroft Point. The current was strong and pushed them at first to the west a bit but they managed to right themselves and by 2:10pm found themselves opposite Sophia Islands. Just as had others they went for a rub at Strider (between 6:33pm and 6:48pm) and at Main (between 6:51pm and 6:52pm) and carried on to the east. Their last calls were at 7:20pm as they too disappeared east. A late report from Boat Bay at 10:30pm said that orcas were passing their camp headed west, They were taking long dives. Just before midnight Tomoko listening in japan, heard Bs and A5s and then refined her identifications to include both the A42s (and A94), the A23s and the I16s - they were all returning west! There was encouraging news from the north. The A54s and the A50s were seen in Whale Channel. This was the first report of the A50s - we had been worried about their absence here and the lack of information regarding their whereabouts elsewhere. On other fronts, the I12s and A52s were identified in Gordon Channe/Christie Pass (Port Hardy area)l by Lance. This begs the question of who will next arrive in the Blackfish Sound/Johnstone Strait area? Our UK visitor, James remarked that the highlight of his day was seeing orcas for the very first time in the wild and realising that those same individuals were making those wonderful sounds or as James put it Ňthat whale, making that sound!

OrcaLab
20 Aug 2023 10:43:16 PDT



August 18 2023 NR: A34s, A23s, A42s, Bs, Rs (heard), I15s (Heard), ?others We begin, as we must, with the sad news that Tokitae has died. She was captured in 1970, one year later than Corky and endured captivity at the Miami Seaquarium for 53 years. She was just 4 years old when taken. Beyond the sadness of her tragedy, never getting that chance to return to her home waters despite plans well underway, lies an anger in our hearts. It cannot be helped because her life was wasted plain and simple. Some will argue that she served to educate the public about orcas, that she was an ambassador for her species. Her reality . . . her reality was a life spent in a too small inadequate tank, with only circles to swim, and since her companion Hugo died no other orcas for company or comfort. That she survived so long was not testament to the care she received but her dauntless beautiful spirit. She was denied a life where she grew up amongst her own, with her mother and siblings, in her real ocean home. Left free, she would have contributed to the well being of her community passing her motherŐs traditions on to the babies she should have had. Those who cry about the dire plight of the Southern Resident orcas need look no further than the harm that was done when Lolita and the others from her community were taken in the 1960s, a generation lost. They have struggled to recover ever since. With her death we hope that the tragedy and uselessness of captivity becomes more poignant and sharper and serves to remind us, though she is gone, there are still minds to change and work to be done to stop this ŇindustryÓ once and for all. Free Corky! The notes for most of our day filled only two pages of the Lab notebook but so much was happening elsewhere. Orcas seemed to be converging from all directions. The first word we had that something was afoot came just before 10am when Donna McKay relayed that 20+ orcas had been seen heading east through Goletas Channel west of Port Hardy. Later, AJ sent us an amazing recording taken in the same area. In the recording we could hear Rs and I15s, perhaps As as well. AJ later reported that the A34s had been confirmed. Around 2:30pm, Marieke on the Naiad said that they were with the A23s off the Masterman Islets and 20 minutes later off Round Island - again the general vicinity of Port Hardy. Jared Towers got a report from a friend on the Alert Bay ferry that there was a group of orcas. Going out he found the A42s and the B7s off Yellow Bluff and the western end of Cormorant Island at 6:15pm. They were all clumped together, spyhopping and laying around slowly going eastward. We asked about B13 who Jared said looked great despite his flopped over fin (he has had this condition for years). Importantly B7 who was estimated to be born in 1949 (making her 74 years old) was looking well too. A88, our concern the other day, was there and fine too. It was just past 10pm when we began to hear the A42s (not forgetting their travelling companion, A94 from A4 pod) and the B07s as the two groups crossed Pearse Passage and entered Johnstone Strait. Jared had mentioned that the A42s and B07s went past his place in Alert Bay and that there were four blows following and wondered if these might be BiggŐs orcas, and further wondered if it might be the T060s who have been so present recently.. This was an interesting side note as at 11:39pm we heard BiggŐs vocals in Johnstone Strait. A Northern Resident rub began at 11:46pm along Vancouver Island. From there we believe the B07s and the A42s continued east. More of this story will be included in the next day summary. Today we welcomed James, Arabella and Ed from the UK. They will be staying with us for a few days. Good timing on their part. Lucky that despite the high winds Paul was able to bring them back from Alert Bay safely!

Orcalab
19 Aug 2023 09:44:53 PDT



August 17 2023 A42s (here!) Pacific White-sided dolphins It was a pretty uneventful night. At 7:37am there was a surprise report of four Northern Residents off Robson Bight. Nothing really came of this sighting. The fog was pretty thick everywhere and we had to get ready for the departure of Joel and Rob before the expected NW winds picked up but after the fog cleared enough. They departed in good time and made it to Telegraph Cove despite the bumpy, splashy ride. JŽrŽmie, the boat driver, got back safely. The wind continued to increase throughout the day but the sun also came out. In fact the day was spectacular. Just after 1pm we heard echolocation on the Main Rubbing beach system. This was followed by a sighting of 5 orcas east of the Reserve close to the Vancouver Island shore. In quite short time we saw them heading for Strider Rubbing beach and at 1:16pm they began a rub. Unfortunately we had gremlins in our system which was having difficulties handling the demands of cameras and hydrophones. Some of it worked, especially the underwater camera. While watching we saw a distinctive saddle patch and knew instantly that we were not watching the A23s and suspected the A42s were finally returning after their ever so long sojourn in Georgia Strait. They had been observed in Okisollo Channel around 9:30pm the previous evening. Screen shots confirmed individuals in the group. There were no calls to offer any acoustic clues so it was great to have those brief visuals. With the clearer skies, the Cliff Research camp was now able to watch as well. They reported that when the A42s left the western boundary of the Ecological Reserve at 2:30pm they had formed into a tight group. Other than some more echolocation at 3pm the group remained very, very quiet while steadily headed west. Just before 4pm the A42s were off Kaikash beach, still very close to shore. Megan was sure she would not be able to see them properly in the very exercised waves. While they continued west we were taking the chance to review the underwater video. Lucy was able to identify everyone except A88, Chameleon which was a worry as everyoneŐs count was coming up short as well. Progress west continued to be slow. They were opposite Telegraph Cove by 6:45pm. Jim Borrrowman said there were no calls despite the fact that Pacific White-sided dolphins were there as well. This was about the last visual report for the day, and now we wait to see if and what the night might tell us. For a while now a few of the increasing number of sea lions have begun to haul out on the rocks near the Parson Island Light. This happens each year as the sea lions return from their rookeries further up the coast. One young fellow even tried to jump on to the Hanson Island rocks usually reserved for later occupation. A huge effort was made during the day to clean the guest house in preparation of the arrival of three guests, Ed, James and Arabella from the UK. We just hope the wind will calm down enough to allow us to get into Alert Bay and pick them up! The forecast is not exactly promising. Wish us and them luck

OrcaLab
18 Aug 2023 10:03:50 PDT



August 16 2023 NR: A23s, A42s (Georgia Strait) Around midnight a humpback made its presence known as it moved around noisily. The movements were not accompanied by any vocalisations at that time. Later, in the early hours Naiomi became aware of some more expressive but very sporadic humpback vocal activity, enough so to help keep her awake through her night shift. Morning came and went without any word or indication about the whereabouts of the A23s who, judging from their last calls, had disappeared east just as they had the previous evening. But unlike the day before it would be a long time before they reappeared. Around 1pm the A42s were reported off Francisco Point on the south end of Quadra Island in Georgia Strait. Just before 2pm we heard distant calls east of the Ecological Reserve. The calls remained distant and after several attempts we were not able to locate the A23s visually. We did figure out that most likely, because of the interplay of the different hydrophones involved in detecting the calls that the group were possibly mid strait and till well east of Boat Bay. This turned out to be accurate. By 3pm, they were still east of the Reserve. An hour later the Cliff Research site watched as they passed Swaine Point on the Cracroft Island side headed west. Fife was travelling again separately and was seen closer to the Vancouver Island side near Robson Bight. He would later shift to mid strait as he continued west. The rest of the group was quite spread out mid strait and possibly crossing over to the Bight as well. By 6pm , the A23s were all mid strait and headed towards Cracroft Point with A60 in the lead. For a while he looked as if he was going to continue west into the afternoon glare. Half an hour later he began to angle towards the entrance of Blackney Pass. The rest were behind him and began to cross over to about 600 meters off the ŇCPÓ platform by 6:45pm. They continued in a westerly direction for the next five minutes. Just before 7pm they finally committed to coming into Blackney Pass off Little Hanson and into our view at 7:04pm. They travelled mid channel favouring the far side as they headed north along Parson Island. They were travelling more or less together but gradually spread out into three groupings accompanied by a few dolphins. Unfortunately, although they had a day with very few boats around them, a sailboat in Blackney motored along with them matching their speed with its own. They were opposite the Lab by 7:15pm and then cleared our view by 7:30pm as they headed into Blackfish Sound. They both echolocated and called while foraging in Blackfish Sound until 8:10pm. Even though they then went quiet we were still able to see them on the Flower Island remote camera. We noted the sailboat was still with them. By 9pm we lost them on the camera but Alex was able to tell us that they were about ¼ the way across the top end of Blackfish Sound, in the rip, when they turned back towards Hanson Island. A few distant calls were followed by clear and louder calls at 9:20pm. This coincided with some rather exciting bubble net feeding close to Flower Island which was captured by the remote camera. A little seal on the rocks below the camera sat as a witness to all this activity just as we were doing in the Lab! The A23s continued to call in Blackfish Sound off and on until around 10:24pm and ceased entirely by 10:30pm. Between orcas and humpback observations it was a busy day for the Lab. In the morning, Joel, Rob, JŽrŽmie and Serah set off in the Sonic to visit all the remote sites. The weather was quite cooperative for a change. At each site they has specific tasks and took good measure of work needed in the future. We had been stymied by the weather and could not complete the dives we had hope to do on the 14th and 15th so this was a very positive alternative plan. When the crew returned Joel deployed the underwater drone and had a good look at the condition of the main mooring. The conclusion was that the mooring needs some attention - good to know going into the latter part of the year.

OrcaLab
17 Aug 2023 08:14:41 PDT



August 15 2023 NR: A23, A42s (Georgia Strait) Somehow, the A23s returned to Johnstone Strait during the night and travelled east towards the Ecological Reserve. At 1:20am they were at Strider Rubbing beach in the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve and began a brief rub. The mystery as to what they might do next was solved when echolocation and a few calls were heard further east off Main Rubbing beach letting us know that the A23s had kept going east. They were out of range of the hydrophones after 3am. The rest of the night was uneventful. The morning was very pleasant. The high winds of the previous evening had subsided and the fog which eventually descended was not very thick. The morning was made better with a report from Sea Wolf that there were orcas (the A23s) travelling west from Naka Creek. So we waited with the Strider remote camera trained to the east. Along came the A23s close to the Vancouver Island shore at 9:15am. They did not stop for a rub however and were spread out enough that there were calls detected from the more easterly rubbing beach hydrophone at 9:30am. By 10am they were all on their way towards Robson Bight. They made an exit out of the Reserve just before 11am. They stayed on the Vancouver Island side and eventually we could see them as they approached Izumi Rock around 11:15am west of the Bight. A60 had a porpoise companion for part of his journey while the others travelling together splashed, tail lobbed, breached and pec slapped their own way west. Although there were no calls, the A23s made quite a lot of echolocation clicks as they gradually moved away from the shorel. By the time they reached the Kaikash area they were well offshore and angling towards Cracroft Point. Once closer to the Cracroft Island side they stalled and contented themselves with moving back and forth, east and west. A60 independently found his way to the rip west of Cracroft Point. By this time they had attracted a lot of boats, whale watchers and casual recreational boats alike. The A23s continued regardless, even spyhopping and breaching occasionally. The afternoon wore on and finally the A23s regrouped and began to angle towards the entrance of Blackney Pass by 4:20pm. This was ahead of slack tide and the current was not set to change until 5:37pm. The push into Blackney progressed well and by 4:44pm they were well into the Pass and travelling together mid channel opposite Parson Island. By 5pm they were opposite White Beach Pass and looking as if they would easily carry forward as they passed a couple of humpbacks as they went. About six minutes later, when just about to West Pass, they inexplicably turned and took the remaining flood tide back to the entrance of Blackney Pass. They cleared our view by 5:30pm, then traversed the last leg of the Pass and reentered Johnstone Strait by 5:51pm, just after the tide had turned. From then on they worked against the current and proceeded eastward past Cracroft Point. From 6:10pm onward they began to angle slowly towards Vancouver Island. They were opposite the Sophia Islands, resting into the opposing current, just before 7pm. They made no calls until 9:02pm when they reached Strider and went for a ten minute rub. Just as they had at 1:20am they continued east. Calls were heard on the Main beach hydrophone until 9:25pm. They werenŐt alone. Dolphins, also on the Main beach system, chimed in at 9:30pm. So just like yesterday the Ňlast wordÓ went to the dolphins.

OrcaLab
16 Aug 2023 07:35:40 PDT



August 14 2023 NR: A23s, A42s (presumed Georgia Strait) BiggŐs: T060s Humpbacks: Meniscus, Guardian and baby, Ridge, Inukshuk Finally! In the early hours (3:30am) Carla started a recording after hearing clear but distant Northern Resident calls. Before she could text everyone Claire was already awakened by the calls and was on her way to the Lab and then to the main house to make sure the news that there were A5 calls in Blackfish Sound had registered. Helena was soon on her way to the Lab where she found just about everyone gathered, already listening on earphones or the speakers while their excitement shook off any residual sleepiness. This was the real deal! We listened intently trying to sort out if this was the A42s coming back and headed west with the ebbing tide or newly arriving A23s. Most of the calls remained rather distant in the first instance but faint echo location seemed to suggest the orcas were not going away. At 4:19am the calls even became louder. We imagined the whales shifting about and adjusting to the current which was not going to change until quite a bit later that morning. For almost an hour the echo location continued and during the next half hour (after 5am) distant calls interspersed the continuing echo location. Just to make things even more interesting, at 5:33am, a humpback in Blackfish Sound produced some pretty impressive sounds during a bubblenet effort. Afterwards, the orcas ceased calling until 6:03am when it became evident acoustically that they had slipped into Blackney Pass. Blows were heard through the morning fog closer to the far shore. Moments later the orcas retreated when close calls and echolocation at 6:36am told us they were regrouping in Blackfish Sound. The calls then faded. Almost an uneventful hour passed. Suddenly at 7:26am a humpback in Blackfish Sound called out in a short burst.The A23s showed up in Blackney Pass headed south 28 minutes later. They came in on the Hanson Island side altogether, A60 leading the group. Day had broken and the fog had mostly lifted by now so we could follow the small group as they made their way through the Pass - still going against the current. At 8:09am they disappeared from our view. We then patiently waited for them to traverse the entrance to Blackney Pass. Megan and Rob at the Cracroft Point camp spotted them first at 8:24am as they emerged. As they moved further toward Johnstone Strait they Ňopened upÓ with a beautiful set of calls announcing their arrival. Serah, handling the remote camera, soon found them and trained the camera on their progress eastward past ŇCPÓ. Meanwhile, we had regrouped inside the Lab to collectively take a breather, look at the pictures, excitedly discuss what had just occurred and watch the A23s on the monitor.Then suddenly, Janie who was facing the window saw more orcas outside passing close to the Lab. We quickly shifted focus back outside. Fully in Ňresident modeÓ it took a short while for us to realize that we were looking at BiggŐs orcas instead, specifically, the T060s. Whew! What a morning. As the BiggŐs orcas made their way along the same path that the Residents had taken, the A23s continued to call beautifully. They were now moving east further away from ŇCPÓ into the fog. Fife (A60) lingered a while longer just on the edge of the fog line. By now the BiggŐs orcas had also reached Johnstone Strait but chose to head west. The A23s shifted closer to Vancouver Island. At 9:14am we heard one ever so brief rub and caught a glimpse of a young whale near the shore. Afterwards we lost track of the A23s but noted the reports on the progress of the T060s. At 9:15am they passed Big Bay on Hanson Island and reached the western end of the island about a half hour later. Just before Noon they had moved north into Weynton Pass. They would later curl around Hanson Island and be spotted off Double Bay by 6:20pm. The Resident A23s likewise struck a westerly direction after that brief rub on Vancouver Island. By 11:14am they were off Blinkhorn Peninsula and from there headed towards Telegraph Cove which they passed at 12:18pm. They turned soon after and at 1:29pm they were just east of Telegraph Cove off the Bausa Islets and by 2:03pm once again off Blinkhorn Peninsula. They continued their easterly trek silently. At 2:29pm they were off Kaikash Creek opposite ŇCPÓ. The remote camera followed their progress as they approached the boundary of the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve followed by a number of boats. By 3:30pm they were near the western headland of Robson Bight. They entered the Bight and passed the Tsitika River estuary at 4:18pm, still eastbound. We waited for them to appear on the Strider Rubbing Beach camera but rubs were not really the order of the day and apparently they turned west off the eastern headland of the Bight at around 5pm. A few sporadic faint calls suggested that they were still on their way west at 5:30pm but nothing was very definite until hours later when they turned up in Blackney Pass once again at 9:03pm. They were silent but comfortably travelling with the ebbing current and the very exercised waves whipped up by the strong northwest winds. More or less travelling close together they left our view and entered Blackfish Sound some 19 hours since this day had begun with those first calls. The fading light worked against our efforts to follow them through Blackfish Sound. A humpback breaching in Blackney brought our attention closer to home. A few echolocation clicks and some quiet calls assured us that the A23s were still in Blackfish as night fell. A lovely postscript to the day came when some very rowdy Pacific White-sided dolphins were heard in Blackney Pass not long after the orca activity had ended for the moment. Earlier, JŽrŽmie had braved the freshening afternoon winds to fetch long time volunteer Momoko Kobayashi (so good to have her back!) from Alert Bay and retrieve Rob from Cracroft Point. Only at ŇCPÓ for a day Rob had the good fortune to see the A23s, catch a glimpse of the BiggŐs orcas and watch several humpbacks (Meniscus, Guardian and baby, Ridge plus others) working the nearby currents. We had hoped to do quite a bit of work on the remote sites throughout the afternoon but the dire weather forecast and the reality of the increasing winds forced us to cancel. Technician Joel was content to work on the Lab systems in the meantime. But given the lovely events of the day no one was complaining and very happy remembering the sights and sounds of this wonderful day as they turned towards beds or the Lab to continue monitoring whatever else the night might reveal.

OrcaLab
15 Aug 2023 07:58:32 PDT



Aug 1 -11 2023 BiggŐs orcas: T060s, T002Cs, T036As and T075Bs Northern Residents (at distance): A42s, D17s Pacific White-sided dolphins DallŐs Porpoise Minke Whale We are now well into August and the Northern Residents are still far away from the Blackfish Sound/Johnstone Strait area and we are perplexed to say the least. We have no answers and we feel as befuddled as some of these foggy summer days. We wonder at the patience of our volunteers who have come from far away on the promise of an amazing summer learning about, seeing first hand and listening to the Northern Resident families. They have been a wonderful group, keeping their spirits high, lending their energy to the various tasks at hand, being diligent about understanding our systems, keeping good humor and supporting each other. We lend them our memories and stories of how it used to be but, in the absence of the orcas, they have embraced the stories that the ocean, the sky and the forest reveal to them each day. Likewise recently, two young boys came all the way from Japan. One was the grandson of an old friend, the other was his best friend. Within minutes of arriving they were off the boat and inspecting the beach, watching the ocean, delighted by everything. All this in the absence of resident orcas! For the record here are a few events which have occurred since the beginning of August: In the early hours of August 1 a humpback tried out a few vocals in Blackfish Sound. We decided since it was August to implement night shifts into the routines, just in case. Possibly we would not have recorded these sounds otherwise as they did not last very long. Later that same day the T060s showed up in the channels near Farewell Harbour and Village Island. The next morning, once again we heard a humpback, this time in Johnstone Strait and later in the day we were excited by a Naiad Explorer report when they thought they heard A clan calls off Malcolm Point. We later learned that Jared Towers found the D17s (A clan) further west that same afternoon. On August 3rd around 5:30am a humpback began to bubble net feed while near the eastern end of the Ecological Reserve. The distinctive moans followed by the sound of bubbles breaking the surface clued us into what was happening. This year bubble net feeding has been on the rise. The 3rd was a pretty busy day! BiggŐs orcas, the T002Cs, T036As and T075Bs turned up around noon heading west along the Vancouver Island shore. They moved over towards Cracroft Point and continued west followed by a large number of boats. The day before the T036As, T037s, T034s and T0002Cs had been seen heading north from Campbell River. This day also brought news of the A42s heading southeast in Calm Channel. In the early hours of August 4th a humpback was heard briefly and later that morning the humpbacks became quite active with lots of pec slapping and breaching at various times throughout the day. The humpback ŇRidgeÓ highlighted the day off Cracroft Point at 5pm by feeding intensely on a bait ball. For those who stayed up, northern lights lit up the clear sky in an energetic display from 11pm on. A group of BiggŐs orcas was sighted in Blackfish Sound on August 5. These whales did not enter Blackney Pass so we never saw who they were and we heard no backup reports. The A42s were seen, still in Georgia Strait, near Marina Island. A Minke Whale showed up in Blackney Pass on August 8th at 4:11pm. There are not a lot of Minke Whales who inhabit this area and they only infrequently turn up in Blackney so this was a good sighting. They are also not easy to observe as they can have long dives between surfacings. We skip to the evening of August 8th for the next update on the A42s who were seen once again in Calm Channel. At 8am on August 9th BiggŐs orcas were reported easting off Tribune Point by Farewell Harbour Lodge. After time passed these orcas eventually came through Baronet Pass (seen briefly by the Lab) and on to Cracroft Point where Megan is stationed. She identified the T019s as they passed close to the platform as they headed east just before 3pm. The morning of August 10th was foggy but Orca Camp, located just east of the Reserve, reported that they heard blows not far off shore. Nothing further came of this report. On the 11th there were a few humpback sounds in Blackfish Sound in the early hours. Porpoise and dolphin activity drew our attention later in the day. The dolphins came quite close just after 4pm and disappeared around Burnt Point soon after. Pretty soon our returning assistants, Claire and JŽrŽmie, will be leaving us. They came early in June planning on staying just one month and now it is almost mid August. It is impossible to summarize all the help they have given. We just know we are so grateful to them for coming back, so graciously helping out and for being the lovely, lovely people they are. We wish them safe travels and look forward to their return next year.

OrcaLab
11 Aug 2023 22:17:32 PDT



July 25 - 29 2023 I hope by writing this summary that the situation will have changed by the time it comes to press post! Our July has been probably the strangest since we began monitoring orcas in the Johnstone Strait/Blackfish Sound area decades ago. The season, with the exception of the A42s, has yet to materialize. The A42s have transited through the area with barely any presence. Their first arrival on July 7 was in the fog and they remained silent as they travelled through this area and on to Georgia Strait where they remained until retracing steps on July 23 out to Queen Charlotte Strait.. Encouragingly they returned late the next day and we were able to follow them acoustically through the early hours of the 25th as they made their way east in Johnstone Strait where they stopped for a brief rub just as they had done in Queen Charlotte Strait on the 24th. Once again the A42s made a beeline for Georgia Strait leaving us rather deflated after the excitement of hearing their calls through the night. None of this is hardly a season starter. We know Northern Residents have been spotted elsewhere, along the North and Central coasts and even near the Port Hardy area but none ventured in. All this has left us wondering. Why? What has changed? When will things go back to ŇnormalÓ? We know from years of observations that the A1 pod plays a significant role in this area and they have yet to show up. The old A30 matriline has now split into two groups, the A50s and A54s, both quite independent of each other and often travel separately. The A54s have been seen in the company of other Northern Resident families several times on the North Coast where they were reported to have two new babies. The A50s have yet to be seen as far as we know. Going back over old incidence records we know that the A30s were most likely the first group to become established in the area each season and once here they acted as ŇhostÓ to the the other various groups, ushering them in and out. The other A1 matrilines, the A12s (now the A34s) and the A36s also had a similar role, working with the A30s in the early part of the season then assuming the role once the A30s departed. The A36s no longer exist and the A12s have changed their habits gradually after the death of A12 in 2012 when they became known as the A34s, named after A12Ős only daughter. Each year the A34s have not only decreased their presence, they have virtually abandoned the early season in favour of a later arrival. It feels like a very cursory effort. We have considered several possibilities for the dramatic change of events this season: The whales are content to stay in certain areas where the availability of food is easy and plentiful. Why make the effort even though Chinook abundance is pretty decent in the Johnstone Strait area? The A54s have possibly two new babies and are reluctant to travel long distances even though they were a mainstay last year in this area. The A50s, if nothing has happened to them, are likewise busy elsewhere. The A34s continue to prefer being elsewhere. They started this trend. The A1s, by keeping their distance, have created a Ňnobody is at homeÓ situation as other Northern Residents have knocked on the door fairly close by but not entered. The area has become too busy, too noisy, and the whales get too much attention. For more than a decade the season has trended to starting later and ending earlier. There are, of course, probably multiple factors. All we know is that this season has been like no other and with all that time on hand we are preoccupied with the unanswered question, WHY?

OrcaLab
29 Jul 2023 17:48:23 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

July 16 - July 21 2023 Biggs orcas: T060s, T046s, T109s Northern Residents (at a distance): R17s, I16s, I04s, R13s, G17s, A34s, A42s, A73s, A25s Gray Whale As we wait for the Northern Residents (an interminable wait) BiggŐs orcas continue to maintain a near steady presence in the area. Such was the case on July 16. Daughter Anna had arrived with her family for her birthday so this sighting contributed to the celebration. The BiggŐs were first sighted off the Bell Rocks at 4:16pm. From there during very long dives they proceeded north until near the Parson Island Light where they stopped and made some foraging maneuvers. Another long dive occurred and afterwards the very large male made several regular surfacings. The rest of the group were more elusive for us. By 5:56pm the silent passage was over as they headed into Blackfish Sound. The next day brought the tantalizing news that once again the north coast was host to Northern Residents. The Fin Island station heard a mixture of R and G clan calls during the early morning hours (2-4pm) as the orcas passed south through Squally Channel. In daylight the same group passed Whale Point and Hermann was able to identify the R17s and the I16s and I4s as they headed to Lorado Sound. The rest of our day was preoccupied by humpback sightings, the Cave roof construction and a great hot dog dinner assisted by Grandson Jamie!. On the 18th we learned that the A42s were still being tracked near Heriot Bay (Quadra Island) in Georgia Strait at 8:42am. By 11 am the A42s were travelling fast near Brenton Island. There were two other reports of Northern Resident groups along the coast this day. Wayne Wright identified the A34s heading into Fitz Hugh Sound. This was quite encouraging as this is really only about a dayŐs good travel from the Blackfish Sound/Johnstone Strait area. Springer (A73) was photographed with her two youngsters travelling with the A54s and the A25s near Whale Point. So much far away activity! We do know that the residentŐs favourite food, Spring salmon, has been relatively abundant this year in contrast to some lean years previously. Jim Borrowman remarked on the coincidence of the Alaska salmon fishery being closed for a month. Normally this fishery takes over 700,000 fish each season. With no take this year these salmon have become available in Canadian waters. Good news for the whales. With so much food around the orcas are probably content to stay close to the source of plenty and have delayed their normal travels to more southern parts of the coast. Early next morning the T046s passed the Cliff Research site mid strait heading eastward. By 13:14 pm the group, including T046D & E and T122 (photo ids by Lucy) were nearing Robson Bight. Meanwhile the R13s and G17s were in Goletas Channel near Port Hardy - so close, closer than even the A34s BUT they headed west and away. It seems we still do not yet have enough temptations to bring the residents in closer. The A42s from noon till 5:30pm were off south Savary Island (Georgia Strait). For us the 20th was a disappointing mess of misinformation. First came the false report of a large group of residents heading east from Malcolm Point. It turned out to be BiggŐs orcas (the T060s, T109Bs and the T046B1s - Jared Towers ID) and not residents. Later this was compounded by some further miscommunication about this same group. Twice we started an audio recording to no avail. We are so ready and hopeful for residents that we leant immediate credence to the reports. Sigh. The 21st brought an unexpected surprise - a Gray Whale came into Blackney Pass. Scotty first saw the whale off West Pass. Quite difficult to see at first but finally, when opposite the Lab just past 11am, the thin fog lifted to reveal its presence opposite the Lab on the far side. The whale continued south and proceeded slowly toward Johnstone Strait. Those on the deck, Naomi, Agathe, Carla and Jluiette in the Lab on the remote camera did a great job staying on task and even were able to relocate the whale once in Johnstone Strait. This is a fairly rare occurrence so Jared Towers made the effort to document the whale east towards Robson Bight. Jared commented that the small whale looked in good shape, robust with just a few scratches. As the Gray Whale event drew to a conclusion Ely relayed that BiggŐs orcas were seen in Tribune Channel. Jared and Ely identified T060C for sure and Jared commented that there seemed to be a bunch in the inlets that day. The BiggŐs certainly get around while making their circuits in and out of the area these days while filling the void left by the absent residents. On the slack tide Megan and Suzie donned their dry suits and slipped into the water. Claire, as part of the support , followed in her wet suit armed with her underwater camera. They were there to help install the 2nd hydrophone array designed by HervŽ Glotin of the University of Toulon. JŽrŽmie, Paulo, HervŽ and Juliette were in the boat with the hydrophone which was eventually lowered into the water then guided into position by Megan and Suzie. After weeks of preparation the actual installation went very smoothly and quickly. Some additional work was needed in the Lab before the system was fully operational. With this done, it meant that there are now two arrays (the first installation was on July 13) off the lab to help detect and localize whale calls. Specialized hydrophones on the array include high and low frequency capabilities. We are quite excited to see the first results and very thankful for HervŽ including OrcaLab in this work.

OrcaLab
22 Jul 2023 23:13:19 PDT



No orcas present.

July 11- 15 2023 A42s Georgia Strait T060s T069D2, T059 Humpbacks: Argonaut, Quartz, Ripple, Ridge, Inukshuk, Guardian and baby. Despite the fact that there have not been Northern Residents in our particular area does not mean that there was not a lot of activity. We were satisfied by BiggŐs orcas, Humpbacks and reports of distant Northern Residents. Starting with the A42s, Holly 9or SonoraÓs family. You may remember that Holly took her family past the Lab on July 7 and carried on into Georgia Strait. We were able to follow their movement because the whale watch boats coming out of Campbell River were keeping close track of their movements form apparently ealy morning to evening. On July 11 they were seen rubbing at Francis Point around 8:30am. By 10:22am they were headed north. By afternoon they had turned back south near the Quadra- Cortez ferry. Shifting north that same day Dylan Smyth heard the G03 matriline near Hope Island (north tip of Vancouver Island). On the 12th reports juggled once more from the northwest and the southeast. The A42s were off southwest Quadra Island then off the top of the spit by 10:40am very close to the beach and apparently liking each otherŐs company! Donna let us know that there were orcas between the Fosters and Holfords in Queen Charlotte Strait. This seemed very promising. Then Megan relayed that the T060s were hunting DallŐs Porpoise in Weynton Passage near the Plumper Islands at 1:40pm so probably they were the very same orca who were in Queen Charlotte Strait earlier.Jared mentioned that T069D2 was with them. Elsewhere, the A42s around 2:20pm had found another rubbing beach on northwest Manna Island. Moving to the 13th. Just before 11am Alex Morton saw a group of BiggŐs orcas heading east in Queen Charlotte Strait. This was again the T060s, this time accompanied by Grandmother T059. Jared Towers once again made the identification. We picked up their trail acoustically when they were passing Cracroft Point in Johnstone Strait and then visually with the aid of the remote camera as they continued eastward. The T060s were not done with us, turning up the next day once again off Cracroft Point at 7:42am heading east at first then turning around to the west after reaching Robson Bight at 9:25am. They passed the Cliff Research site at 1:09pm. Just three minutes later they were off the Baron Reefs and a short while later seen on the Cracroft Point remote camera. Sure enough they slipped into Blackney Pass at 1:39pm. As they headed north through the Pass they took very long dives between surfacings. Once opposite the Lab the cohesive group spread apart and began to go in different directions as if looking for something. Another long dive brought the male T060C to the surface and the fleet of boats following the whales on either side accompanied the group into Blackfish Sound at 3:08pm. On this same day, on the North Coast, the A54s, A24s, A25s passed the Fin Island Research station. The next day, July 15, the A42s were still south of but this time in Sutil Channel which just might indicate a possible shift north. OUr list of humpbacks seen during this time period includes Argonaut, Quartz, Ripple, Ridge, Inukshuk, Guardian and baby. The weather, although a bit too dry, has been spectacular. We welcomed Mark McCalllum back. Mark is working on putting a new roof on part of the main building. A huge and complicated job. Claire, Juliette, Jeremie and Agathe have pitched in and helped. We welcomed new comers Ali and Grace, as well as, Chloe and Serah more recently. Anna, Tony and Jamie have come for a short visit. Our entire little group (not so little when gathered for dinner in the small living room) has managed to keep everything going as we wait for the Northern Residents to turn up.

OrcaLab
16 Jul 2023 07:14:46 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

July 10 2023 A42s (Geogia Strait) T087, T124C, T099s Humpbacks: Argonaut,Ripple,Quartz Today, the A42s continued to stay in in the same general area around Savary Island and Quadra Island in upper Georgia Strait. Meanwhile around 2pm we had a tantalizing report of 15 Northern Residents traveling east near the Deserter Islands northwest of Port Hardy. Beyond this initial report we heard nothing but were still hopeful that the flooding tide later in the early evening would nudge them along. So far it has not happened. At 6:45pm three humpbacks, Argonaut, Ripple and Quartz engaged in some heavy feeding mid channel just south of the Lab. It was for a while quite spectacular. They would have more to do a bit later. We knew that BiggŐs orcas were around as the Cliff Research site reported a group heading west around 5pm. Despite the now flooding tide these whales made it into Blackney Pass before 8pm just as, once again, we were setting the dinner on the table. It looked like a fairly large group as we counted 7 including two mature males, a juvenile male, a mum and baby and two other female sized fins. They made it all the way along Parson Island, stopped and engaged in a hunt, most likely their target was a DallŐs Porpoise. There were no calls and eventually they turned back with the current and made their way out of view towards Johnstone Strait. They were, for a time, accompanied by at least one humpback. This was not as unusual as it seems. In the past while BiggŐs orcas have been involved in a hunt we have witnessed humpbacks placing themselves in or near the action often foiling the BiggŐs efforts. Quartz has definitely done this before. At 8:38pm the BiggŐs were back in view trying once again to negotiate Blackney Pass. This time they made a straight job of it despite the opposing current. By 8:45 they were more than half way along Parson Island. By 8:57pm they were opposite the Lab cameras clicking quickly. Having a look later we could identify the large males T087, T124C and the T099s. They were gone from our view by 9:12pm and still moving into Blackfish Sound efficiently.

OrcaLab
10 Jul 2023 22:43:54 PDT



No orcas present.

July 09 2023 T087, T124C plus two other groups DallŐs Porpoise Humpbacks (all distant and no IDs) We skipped a dayŐs reporting mainly because the A42s went well out of our range and into Georgia Strait. Yesterday, Wayne Wright reported that they were approaching the rubbing beach on Hernando I. at 1:24pm. Later that afternoon Jenn clocked them at 4:18pm off Mace Point on Savary Island. They were still southbound. Today they were found off Mystery Reef around 1pm. This is southeast of Savary Island. By the afternoon, just before 5pm, they had shifted closer to Mitlenatch Island. That put them right in the ŇmiddleÓ of Georgia Strait and a little closer to Campbell River. Are they coming back? Hard to say. There were some poignant discussions about the absence of Surf (A66) HollyŐs oldest son who disappeared after being seen near Mace Point earlier this winter. Thanks to Suzie for relaying all these reports to us. Meanwhile, as we waited for the reports to come in about the whereabouts of the A42s, we went through the usual daily rhythms of cool mists in the mornings, sunshine by the afternoon, chores and tasks tackled and completed, and finally lovely meals made by Tills. Just as we were preparing to sit down to tonightŐs feast, Agathe spotted some distant orcas off the northern shore of Cracroft Island at 7:03pm. The small group of perhaps four were very distant but we could tell that they were fully engaged in a hunt. As we watched, Jim Borrowman in Telegraph Cove texted at 7:33pm that there were calls on his hydrophone system and that T087 and T124C had been identified by Scotty on the Prince of Whales whale watching boat. A very short while later, at 7:41pm we too heard calls in Johnstone Strait not long before Scotty spotted yet another small group off Blinkhorn heading west - most likely the whales we were all listening to. This group went towards those two males that Jim saw off Telegraph and before long these BiggŐs orcas all turned back to the east. Our group, meanwhile, had disappeared from view at 7:52pm as they headed toward Johnstone Strait. By 8:08pm they emerge from the entrance to Blackney Pass and start to move east. We followed them for a while on the Cracroft Point remote camera. Possibly we also saw some of the others who had been further west in the Strait, very distant and impossible to follow as they neared the Sophia Island mid strait by 8:26pm. The vocals long since ceased and now so too the day which is quickly surrendering to the night.

OrcaLab
09 Jul 2023 22:17:48 PDT



No calls but orcas nearby

July 07 2023: Northern Residents A42s, PWD Humpbacks: Ripple, Pultenay, Jugger and possibly Black Pearl or Wave Here we go! We will do a wrap up of June soon but todayŐs event is significant in that Northern Resident orcas made an appearance today for the first time this summer. Has our season begun? Hard to say exactly as the A42s, HollyŐs family passed by the Lab unannounced at 9:23am, cleared our view at 9:38am, and were off Kaizumi, Vancouver Island at 10:49am and past Strider by 12:16pm, all in total silence. Even as they Ňturned the cornerÓ (a good spot for opening up vocally normally) into Johnstone Strait, they maintained their silence. There may have been a brief pass over of Strider but their intent was clear - keep going. A few days before (July 5), Jared Towers identified 40 Northern Residents, the I13. I19, I22, I40,D11 and D13 matrilines, when they arrived west of Port Hardy. It was the first time since 2009 that some of these groups, Ňthe AIsÓ as they are called, have returned this far south. They were relaxed and travelling closely together making JaredŐs job much easier. They turned and went back west from Goletas Channel, leaving us wondering if they were waiting for the more usual A clan matrilines to show. We have been getting reports of other resident groups both on the central and northern coast. Back in June, on the 19th, Whale Point (North Coast) reported an all clan meeting in GitgŒat territory heading to Squally Channel. The group included the A4s,G2s and R5s. A little later on the 24th the A42s passed Fin Island to the north. Springer and her family along with the A25s were seen near Prince Rupert on the 26th. On July 5, that large group already mentioned was sighted off Port Hardy. Up on the north coast, during the night of July 5 and 6, all three clans were heard and later the A54s and I27s were actually seen. At the same time, Dylan saw the A23s,A24s,A35s,G3s,G17s and G16 near Bella Bella on the central coast. This was a lot of witnessed activity over the span of just two days! Today was our turn! But why the silence? We have so much to learn about the why and wherefore of these orcas. The soft morning mist only served to enhance the peaceful mood. During the A42 passing this morning we were able to discern that Mystery (A94) was still travelling with his adopted family. Mystery, as some of you may recall, is from the A24s, and about two years ago he decided that he wanted to be with HollyŐs family. Since then, HollyŐs oldest son, Surf (A66), died in 2023 and the group looks quite different than before without his tall dorsal fin in the family portrait. Jared Towers left them still easting in Johnstone Strait and as of 10:30pm they have not yet returned and all is quiet. Dolphins have been pretty active today near the entrance to Blackney Pass.

OrcaLab
07 Jul 2023 22:29:06 PDT



We are now half way through June! The Northern Resident season is not far off now. Meanwhile the humpbacks have returned and as you can see from the MERS report there was recent exciting news that Guardian,a Blackney Pass regular, has returned with her new baby! We though to further catch everyone up with a short summary of how May went at the Lab. May 2023 We really need to start with great news! BendŐs A30 family was sighted on 29 May near Ketchikan Alaska and apparently there were two new babies, one belonging to BendŐs Auntie Minstrel (A54) and the other to MinstrelŐs daughter Cutter (A86). This will be MinstrelŐs 5th baby and CutterŐs 2nd. It is not all that unusual for orca mothers and daughters to have babies within the same year. Minstrel is only 34 years old and orca mothers may have babies into their forties. Cutter is just getting going at 17! Very reassuring that this family is growing and thriving so well. It is also not uncommon for Northern Residents to be seen as far north as Alaska. It is very much part of their range. Just as Holly comes to Georgia Strait, deep into their southern range, the Northern Residents tend to spread themselves out along the coast as they find favourite winter haunts. This probably ensures better chances of finding food sources through the leaner and less predictable winter months. At OrcaLab meanwhile we had our own special encounters. On 20 May a group of BiggŐs orcas, the marine mammal eating ecotype, turned up in Blackney Pass. The BiggŐs (or Transients as they were once known) haunt by stealth - for the obvious reason that their prey are pretty smart and have good hearing - so they usually come and go quietly without offering any acoustic clues before hand. Helena, while in the garden, just happened to look up and saw the maleŐs tall dorsal fin slice down into the water. She soon realized there were others. They were spread out not too far away but definitely engaged in a very focused hunt, boxing in and restricting their victimŐs chance of escape. There were quite small young orcas right alongside the adults involved in this family effort. Eventually, they calmed down and went on their way. There was a quite magical moment several days earlier when a small group of Pacific White-sided dolphins passed super close to the Lab. It was a warm and sunny mid May afternoon. The ocean was calm as the unhurried dolphins made their way. In their wake everything seemed to take on a serene calmness. Quite the contrast to the rush and vigour of a much larger group who turned up a short while later going through in the opposite direction. By mid May Humpback whales also started making appearances. One very familiar individual, Squiggle, passed through. As time goes on more and more of the ÔregularsŐ will return to the area to replenish themselves after their long and amazing journey from their warm winter homes of Hawaii or Mexico. Those first few gulps of food must be so welcomed after the long intervening fast. The Spring preparation for the upcoming busy season was well underway in May with attention to garden, house and Lab. The garden soil was dug, turned and fed. Starters and seeds were duly planted. But just as everything was set a pesky squirrel decided the young plants were just its ticket. This demanded some rethinking and new strategies were implemented to outwit the intruder. No sooner this was done when a deer decided to push the protective netting and grab a few close plants. More rethinking was obviously needed. Such is the life of living in the wilds! All in all, May was a wonderful month, really busy but with enough time to pause, enjoy the sunshine and think about what may unfold in the upcoming season. More to come!

OrcaLab
17 Jun 2023 10:11:44 PDT



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, Ňmy, 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. BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs 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. BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs and Northern Residents. BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs 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 ŇseasonÓ 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 Ňother 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 BiggŐs 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 humpbackŐs 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 BiggŐs 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 LetŐs 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 JŽrŽmie and Claire. JŽrŽmie 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. BiggŐs 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 JŽrŽmie 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 ŇaliveÓ 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 BiggŐs 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 BiggŐs 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 JŽrŽmie, 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 CorkyŐs capture. Corky is part of the A23s. Stripe or A23 was CorkyŐs mother. Fife (A60) and Ripple (A43) are CorkyŐs brother and sister. Last year, at this same time, A5s (CorkyŐs 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