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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Celebrating Earth Day With Whales, Tulips, Birds, and Marching for Science

Last Friday the 21st circumstances aligned to get out on the water to see a group of transients - the T49As, T65As, and T65Bs, who have been regularly traveling together in recent weeks. It was a short but sweet visit with them off the coast of Sidney Island, BC.

Young adult male T49A1

It was cool to see the two young males (T49A1 and T65B2) hanging out together separate from the rest of the group. Interactions outside of a family group always get my mind going as to what could be going on in their social world. These two were close enough to be touching and seemed to be having a good time, doing some rolling and tail slapping.

The other, bigger group of females and juveniles was a bit further away but we got one nice look of all of them surfacing together.

After stalling out for a little bit, the males joined up and all the whales took off at high speed heading north, so we said goodbye and headed back to port.

T49A1 and family head north towards the Canadian Gulf Islands
I had to head back to my home island because I had a ferry to catch! We were heading over to Bellingham for the March for Science, and in the late afternoon the sun came out which made a detour through the tulip fields of Skagit Valley irresistible.

The weather was a bit less cooperative for the March for Science the next day, Earth Day. But that didn't keep more than 2000 people from taking to the streets in Bellingham along with tens of thousands of others around the world to make a statement in favor of adequate funding for, public communication of, and nonpartisan application to policy making of evidence-based science. 

A couple of very powerful speakers took the stage before the march, reminding us all of the importance of not just pursuing our scientific passions but taking the time to share our research and the scientific method with everyone so there's a broader understanding of just how powerful a tool science is. We might hope for certain results from our research, but we must accept whatever the results tell us, and these facts need to be used to inform policy. Selectively picking and choosing what science to listen to is irresponsible both to our environment and to the future of humanity.

After running some errands after the march, there was still time to get a little birding in before catching the ferry home. 

Caspian tern in Anacortes - photo year bird #148
After many excursions specifically trying for this elusive bird (and hearing them often but never seeing one), I also finally photographed a marsh wren!

Marsh wren - photo year bird #149
What will year bird #150 be?! That was my original target to start the year and now I'm wondering if I might reach it before the end of April!

Speaking of the end of April, as the days tick by closer to May, we're all wondering when the Southern Residents return. After making a few visits in March and early April (by just a couple matrilines), they've been absent again for the last couple weeks. Gone are the days with J-Pod regularly on the west side in early spring, so now we are all left wondering when they will take up their typical summer routine. I am just one among many hoping that it is sooner rather than later!

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