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Saturday, August 26, 2017

August 19: The T36As, T37, T46s and T34s, T37Bs

I heard someone describe our recent invasion by the marine-mammal eating transient killer whales as being like playing orca bingo, because there are a lot more numbers involved than when the Southern Residents are here. It's not "I saw J-Pod" but "I saw the T36As, T37, T46s, T34s, and T37Bs!" which was the case for us on the evening of August 19th.

All 16 of these whales made their way up Haro Strait in the afternoon and then split into two groups in the evening. First we caught up with the T36As, T37, and T46s near Waldron Island. They seemed to make a kill off Point Disney, which provides a spectacular backdrop for watching whales.

They were milling in one area for so long that it gave us a chance to drop the hydrophone. We heard some bizarre calls, plus some whistles and clicks which are even more unusual for transients. Here's a clip of what we heard. 

After deciding to move on, the whales made their way over to Flattop Island. I especially like this next photo, which shows T37 and T46. T46 was involved in the last killer whale capture in Washington State in 1976 but was released, and has become one of the most prolific transients; she's now a great-grandmother. T37 is also a grandmother, so it was cool to see these two matriarchs together.

This group of 10 whales proceeded to do several laps around Flattop Island, and meanwhile about just a mile away we caught sight of the second group of killer whales: the T34s and T37Bs. We headed over there right as they exited Spieden Channel towards San Juan Channel. T37A did a huge lunge so we thought they might be on the hunt, but the next thing we knew they were all logging and resting!

Sunset surface lunge by T34A
After their cat nap, they started heading south down San Juan Channel.

As they reached O'Neal Island, they split up and seemed to be scouting out the shoreline. This isn't a great photo, but I couldn't believe how deep into this little cove this whale went! Here it is coming out again (see the blow on the left against the rocks), but it was even further in there on the previous surfacing!

While hanging out here we also got a surprise close pass from T34; gotta love that late day lighting.

As the whales continued south, we got our last looks with our friends Barbara and David of All Aboard Sailing in the background. 

It was a beautiful evening on the water, and we were treated to a colorful sunset on the way back home!

1 comment:

Vera said...

Wow!!!! What more can I say?