January 2004 Whale Sightings
January 24, 2004
Have had 5 transients hunting around Hornby Island B.C. for past 2 days, one male, rest females and young ..,sorry have not had time to ID.
January 23, 2004
Bill Engle called to report seeing a pod of 10+ orcas from the Anacortes/Friday Harbor Ferry at 5:30 pm, they were heading south in San Juan Channel.
January 16, 2004
We saw a pod of six Orcas southeast of Jefferson Point at 10:35 a.m.
All seemed to be adults and were headed north at the time.
January 12, 2004
We received a second-hand report of orcas off Pt. Jefferson (north of Bainbridge Island) at 2:30 pm, & are working on getting more details. Also, after reviewing my videotape of the pod off Whidbey Island, I am quite certain it's J pod back in town after being gone for the past month.
I was able to catch up with the orcas at 3:30 pm, just as they came up Saratoga Passage heading north past downtown Langley, Whidbey Island. They were VERY spread out, moving quickly through the area and not spending much time on the surface. But it was a large group of whales (probably 20ish), and I did observe 1 adult male. I followed them north, watched them from Bell's Beach at 4:30 pm, then caught up with them again at East Point (at the south side of the entrance to Holmes Harbor) at 5 pm. They were swimming across the entrance to Holmes Harbor toward Greenbank and North Bluff Rd.
Gail Fleming called in a report on this pod from Langley, and then joined me to watch as they passed through town.
January 10, 2004
We sighted a pod of whales (approximately 8-12 whales) off Double Bluff (SW Whidbey Island) heading North at 8:30 am. They were traveling fast and there was no other activity until they passed a Hanjin Ship. Shortly after passing the ship they became very active and began breaching for several minutes then moved out of sight Northward past Bush point. There were 2 large males, several females and one calf. We live in Skunk Bay and were observing through binoculars so no identification was possible. Made my day.
0900: West side of Gabriola Is. (off Nanaimo BC) 7 whales going S.
The description would indicate transients.
No whales off Victoria this afternoon but Race Rocks had over 100 Stellers sea lions, 3 Elephant Seals, and about 15 Bald Eagles.
January 9, 2004
A pod of about 10 was going southbound from the Clinton ferry (Possesion Sound) on the Whidbey side about 10:30 AM.
Steve Jeffries called again at 3:30 pm to say the Tacoma News Tribune received another call, with a pod of 15 - 20 orcas off the Point Defiance Ferry dock; this is a separate group from the pod of 8 that was just reported off Steilacoom traveling south.
Received another report from Steve Jeffries of F&W - the pod of orcas are still heading south, and at 1 pm were between Steilacoom and McNeil Island (so. Puget Sound), with 8 orcas observed.
But we received a call from Steve Jeffries of Wash. Fish & Wildlife, and they had received a call from the Tacoma News Tribune that a pod of orcas were reportedly off Point Defiance this morning (~10 or 11 am), which means there are at least two pods of orcas in Puget Sound today, which may help explain our mystery of trying to figure out if yesterday's whales in Saratoga Passage were K pod or Transients.
We just received a call from Sharon Heath in Langley, SE Whidbey Island, reporting 4 or 5 orcas in Saratoga Passage, off Langley (see below). Most likely the same pod we saw heading north in the passage yesterday. If anyone can get any photos of this pod please let me know! Yesterday I thought it was likely K pod due to the number of whales and calves, & the presence of a very young calf...but, then last night we got the report below from our stranding network, which makes it look like Transient orcas were in the area - also following is another report on this morning's orcas -
8:15 - A pod of Orcas just passed by (at least 6 - 8? - no binocs), heading southeast in Saratoga Passage. I'm located 3 miles north of Langley. It looked like they were angling over toward Camano Head.
Langley, Whidbey Island
8:55 a.m. First St, Langley, WA...Four or five Orcas spotted in the middle of Saratoga Passage, adjacent to downtown Langley... headed South toward Clinton. Traveling swiftly.
Sharen Heath & Simon Frazer,
I just came back from a call on a yearling Harbor Seal Male, possible Orca attack. Head lacerations (looks just like Orca teeth), fractured skull and jaw, possibly shaken, internal hemorrhaging and still alive. With permission from Dr. Stephanie, we tranquilized and euthanized, I am holding for NMFS.
Seal was found on the west side of Camano Island north Madrona Beach area. The attack appears to have happened within the last 24 hours.
Sue Murphy - Pilchuck
Camano Island, WA
January 8, 2004
I found the pod of orcas at about 11:30 am just off the bluff in front of our home/office north of Greenbank, and went to the neighbor's bluff to get a better look. They were actively feeding in the riptide between Camano and Whidbey Islands, just off the entrance to Holmes Harbor. At first I could only find 4 - 6 individuals, spread out, milling in all directions and spending most of their time underwater. They continued feeding for about a half hour, then began to head slowly north, though they basically did their disappearing act so were VERY hard to follow or find. But just when I was about to give up, two females with calves appeared close to shore right below me, then a third female with a TINY calf surfaced just beyond them! Then they ALL disappeared! I did finally see one or two other fins, but never got a glimpse of the mom/calf pairs again, but what I saw makes me pretty sure it was K pod, with their brand new calf. I probably saw 12 orcas in all, but again, they were so spread out and stealthy today it was difficult to say for sure. I left them a little after noon, heading north up Saratoga Passage, closer to the Whidbey side.
David Day just called in a report of 6 or 8 orcas (w/1 little one) moving north up Saratoga Passage, at East Point just entering the mouth of Holmes Harbor, east Whidbey Island at 10:50 am.
January 7, 2004
4 Orcas east bound North of Whiskey Creek Beach Resort (near Joyce, west of Port Angeles). Too far offshore for marks. 12:15 pm.
48 09 24 Lat 123 46 79 Lon.
January 3, 2004
We received a call from Petty Officer Brett of the Depoe Bay, OR Coast Guard Station that orcas were sighted off an RV Park in Lincoln City, OR at 3:30. They were approx. 1 mile offshore, and were milling and moving around with no clear direction of travel.
We've just had a pod pass our place on the northwest end of Vashon. We are located about 1.4 miles south of Pt Vashon on Colvos Passage. The whales appeared to be about 10 in number (wild guess), with one male and one fairly young one. With rough weather conditions and failing light, it was difficult to tell much more than that. The pod was generally on the western side of the Passage, heading northbound, and was clearing the northern entrance to Colvos Passage at approximately 4:45 p.m.
Rob Mosley and Fiona Hope
January 2, 2004
1:00pm Mukilteo ferry... we drove right to the front of the ferry and looked out at the water as the boat filled. Suddenly the waves splashed and a dorsel fin appeared. Im not sure who they were or how many but they were right off the front of the boat heading south.
Bayview, Whidbey Island
We heard back from Tom McMillen at about 3 pm, and K pod had already turned and headed back SE - they were still in the Posession Pt area off SW Whidbey Island, heading back toward Posession Sound or possibly back down toward Edmonds.
Good news today! Tom McMillen of Salish Sea Charters just called - he's out with Candice Emmons of the Center for Whale Research today, and they spotted K pod off South Whidbey - 1st headed south from Posession Sound toward Edmonds, but then they turned and headed north up the west side of Whidbey Island. At 2:20 pm they were just north of Posession Pt, heading north.
The great news is that K12 has a new calf!! Researchers thought a new calf was present with the pod when they were sighted earlier this week near Vashon Island, but Candi was able to positively ID the new calf with K12 today. This news is good, but also a little scary, as we know K pod has traveled through the area of the recent fuel spill at least several times, beginning Dec. 31st, the day after the spill.
Orcas can be harmed by swimming through oil or fuel slicks when they surface to breathe and ingest the fumes off the surface of the water. This is especially critical for newborns, as they are just learning how to breathe and are smaller so need to surface for air more often.
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