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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Transient Day on the Explorer

On this foggy day reports were that all the Southern Residents were out west well out of our range, but late morning a boat picked up a group of transient (marine mammal feeding) orcas on the Canadian side of Haro Strait. Our Western Explorer trip was delayed a bit due to the fog, but once we got out there we met up with the group of about 10 transients a little ways south of D'Arcy Island in Canada.

I don't know what it has been this year, but I have had several encounters where a tight group of whales surfaces all together. I feel like that's something I didn't see much of last year, but it is so cool to see so many fins at the surface at the same time. These transients were relatively easy to track, since they were traveling in a straight line. They would all surface together several times, then dive for about seven minutes. Here's what it looked like when they were up:

The big male in the photo above is T102. He was there with his mother, T101, and her other offspring T101A and T101B. Also present were T90 and T90B, and part of the T124 family group.

Transients don't ever have what we call "open" saddle patches like some of the residents due, where there is black inside the saddle patch making it look like a check mark. Ts, as we call them, pretty much always have solid saddle patches, but what I noticed today is that a lot of them have black lines through the saddle. See the black line through the gray saddle patch on the whale below? I thought this would make it easy to identify, but I'm not sure which whale this is. Since we don't see transients all that often, my ability to ID them is not up to snuff.

Another difference between residents and transients is that transients tend to have much pointier dorsal fins. Look at how pointy the fin is on that female in the middle!

On the way back to Friday Harbor we swung past Spieden Island where we saw some harbor seals, Mouflon sheep, and this striking adult bald eagle. I love the composition with all those gray branches against the yellow hillside!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

News has reached us that there is now a second wolf pack in WA - you lucky people. None round here for over 500 years and no chance of them being reitroduced mores the pity.



Monika said...

Dave - Just how is it you hear about some of this stuff before I do, and I live here?! Cool stuff though. I've never seen wolves in the wild....and here they are practically in my backyard again!

Lancs and Lakes Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika - I'll send you a link later after work.