Posted by: onboardtourswhales | November 14, 2018

Dolphin Dream Come True

November 1, 2018

Recently I joined a friend for a short trip to Mazatlán Mexico. My first trip to Mexico was to Mazatlán 30 years ago (besides Tijuana as a kid on family trips down the west coast) and I remember going through culture shock and not seeing, not even being aware of whales or dolphins in the area at the time. Preparing for this trip I did my research and was keen to go out on the water with Onca Explorations http://oncaexplorations.com and Oscar Guzon Zatarain; a local knowledgeable, experienced Marine Ecologist Scientist, dedicated to sustainable, responsible, respectful of the ecosystem ecotourism, citizen science, educating and engaging the local fishers, community, visitors, and cetacean entanglement and stranding response. Our attitude going out on the water was no expectations, just happy to be out on the ocean, soak up the warm sun and water, and see whatever the sea reveals.

On several previous research projects there were possibilities to swim with free wild dolphins and whales, but hadn’t happened for me. Yet. As we headed out on the Pacific Ocean I asked Oscar if any Humpbacks whales had been sighted yet, they are a recovery success story. He said no, then bam! two Humpbacks came up exhaling on the horizon!! The first sightings of Humpbacks of the season in this area!! We were all elated, took photo identification photos, and noted the environmental conditions and behavioral sightings data. Then I asked Oscar about turtles in the area and bam! we start seeing Olive Ridley turtles resting at the surface throughout our trip.

As we headed further offshore a group of 4 Bottlenose dolphins came to our boat, we slipped into the water but they didn’t stick around, were not interested in us so we got back in the boat and continued west. It was a good practice swim in snorkel gear and protocol. Oscar spotted Spotter dolphins in the distance, who can be ‘friendly’, but this group was swimming away and we got information on the radio from fishers about Spinner dolphins further out, so we went about 25 miles offshore. Having sailed the Pacific, being out of sight of land doesn’t bother me. This was a fun cruise but not a party boat, an intention to learn about and connect with sea life, along with plenty of water, soda, snacks and lunch.

I had checked the tides and we arrived where the Spinner dolphins were at 11am, right at the peak of the low tide, and then slack water as I had hoped. Through the years I have experienced the most incredible, magical encounters with cetaceans during slack water; the brief hour when a tidal cycle has finished and before the next tidal cycle begins, the currents are calm and ocean waters can seem like lakes. I have seen the most surface active and unusual behaviors by cetaceans during slack water, and it makes sense as they are not using energy to go against tides and currents, or utilizing flood tides to travel. Oscar estimated the community of Spinner dolphins we met with were over 2000 animals. It was beyond a Wow!!!! Seeing these dolphins everywhere I looked, as far as I could see took my breath away. We went into the water and several dolphin came and checked us out, and many kept coming by for almost an hour. Oscar and boat crew Dive Master Israel (my snorkel partner) filmed for dolphin identification and data. You can hear clicking vocalizations on my GoPro video:

Dolphin are graceful agile masters of the sea. I hummed to see if any response (I think musical sounds can be universal communication), nothing obvious to me from the dolphins but a fish came by!

Just being, floating in the warm crystallizing clear blue water, while the free wild dolphins chose to dance by us, a personal lifelong dream came true, and long lasting natural high 🙂

Ethereal sun lighted Pacific Ocean and Spinner dolphins

First Humpbacks of the season!

First Humpbacks of the season!

Old Town Cathedral

Old Town Celebration

Old Town Square Gazebo

Malecon Mermaid Sunset

 

 

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 24, 2018

Only WE Can Prevent EXTINCTION

Southern Resident Orca Recovery and Task Force

Survey and Comments Due 10-29-18:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/orcadraftrecommendations

2018 has been a despairing year reflecting many decades of our human shortcomings, mismanagement, and environmental impacts, as our beloved Southern Resident Orca fade away. I hold onto the belief that we while we create destruction and consumption, we can create more preservation, restoration, recovery. We made this mess, we can clean it up. We can care more for our connected ocean and earth lives. I still find hope in nature, nature still heals us. We must heal nature.

All of my Southern Resident Orca J and L podders’ photos are from shore, cropped, and obviously I need a longer lens 😉

2018-5-19 Bald Eagle Steller Sea Lion- Queen or King Rules?

2018-6-6 Transient T77’s

2018-7-21 Exotic Transients CA137 CA40

2018-7-21 Exotic Transient CA40

2018-7-21 Exotic Transient CA137

2018-7-21 Humpback BCXukKeta2014#1 Mt Baker

2018-7-21 Humpbacks

2018-7-21 Humpbacks

2018-7-26 Jpodder Breach

2018-7-26 Jpodder Pectoral Slap

2018-7-26 Jpodder Porpoise Swimming

2018-8-12 NOAA and Lummi Feeding Chinook Salmon to J50 Scarlet

2018-8-12 Jpodders

2018-8-12 Jpodders

2018-8-12 Jpodder Tail Lob

2018-8-12 Jpod Family

2018-8-12 Jpodder Spyhop

2018-8-12 Jpod Family Spyhops

2018-8-12 Jpod Family Spyhops

2018-9-5 Lpodder Breach

2018-9-5 Dio at Work Sniffing for Orca Scat for Conservation Canines Crew to Collect

2018-9-18 South Beach

2018-9-18 Resilience

2018-9-18 Cattle Point

2018-9-18 Bald Eagle

2018-9-23 Red-breasted Sapsucker Determination

2018-9-26 Jpodder Breach

2018-9-26 Jpodder 2nd Breach by Fisher

2018-9-26 Sunset

2018-9-26 Sunset

2018-9-26 Sunset

2018-10-15 Harbor Seal Resting

2018-10-15 Mt Baker Sunset

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | June 8, 2018

World Oceans Day

Sharing science and conservation information (education and outreach) takes translating, diplomacy, and time for actions=changes to happen. I focus on options and results, like the awareness, care, and respect happening for the Honu-Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles that depend upon the beaches of Maui to bask-rest, beaches which are also very utilized by humans. This guy was resting undisturbed by people all afternoon, then went back into the Pacific. Photo and video taken with 200m zoomed camera. Sounds like turtle vocalizations? (besides mine 😉

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 12- Parting Thoughts

February-March-April 2018 I went to Madeira for my love of whales and dolphins, to help with research and conservation. The graduate students from around the world, and CIIMAR OOM/ARDITI CETUS Project scientists, inspire and give hope for the future care of our planet. The best volunteer internship I’ve done so far! The people of Madeira endear me to these islands, make this a place to return to.

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 11- Local Island Tour

March 30, 2018 As my time on Madeira came to a close, a fine young man Bruno offered to give me a local’s perspective tour. I had ventured a bit in other regions, I also wanted to experience the northwest, southwest, and west sides of the island. Particularly Porto Moniz where there are lava pools, along with a restaurant named Orca, had to check that out! And to see a full sunset on the west side at the lighthouse at Ponta do Pargo. Bruno and his Mercedes Smart Car convertible made it a fun adventure. I think all locals drive fast on the narrow, switch back roads, yet seem to sense blind corners or oncoming traffic, display no road rage, and stop immediately when pedestrians are by a crosswalk in the city. We headed across the island stopping at a serene sheep ranch on a plateau. Along the way to Porto Moniz, Bruno showed me the villages where his grandparents and parents lived and grew up, making a living by farming. I am awed by the farm and garden terraces carved into the rugged mountains and the hard laborious work that takes. I had not seen a cow on island until then, a few small cattle ranches on this northern side. It was a beautiful warm sunny day, the surf was up at Porto Moniz as you can see in the first photos of the people-made lava pools, and the spray blowing across the village. I thought of swimming in the second set of more natural lava pools until I almost fell stepping on the algae clad stairs. I’m not as brave that way as other people are! Content to take photos of the majestic seas and lands. We drove back across the mountains past the high plateaus that folks are restoring with native trees and plants. A glimpse of high peaks through the clouds, and huge wind turbines, to the southwestern shores where Bruno pointed out his lifelong swimming and surfing beaches. Then timing just right to get to Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse for the sunset and full moon rising. A perfect day. I have never seen or been through so many tunnels- old mountain rock tunnels and new concrete enclosed tunnels, as on this trip and our travel back on the express highway to Funchal to drop me off. Bruno was going to meet up with extended family at another village to celebrate upcoming Easter. He said some of his favorite times are when all the extended family rent a house in different villages for a long weekend, to gather together celebrating whatever event. I sensed and so appreciated throughout my stay here on Madeira, the importance of, the care, kindness, and respect for family and elders, that is also shown to visitors.

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 10- Cabo Girao- Camara de Lobos- Ponchas

March 27, 2018 Another excursion by bus with the marine biology graduate students. There are many statues all over Madeira Island, difficult to take pictures of from a moving bus or car. Yes the busses go fast too. We went to Cabo Girao, a southern seaside cliff and tourist destination with a glass floored overlook. I did fine with brief looks 580 meters down to take these pictures! That dot down on the water in the 5th photo is a large touring sailing vessel. A pigeon on the rocks in the 6th photo. On the way back we checked out Camara de Lobos, an idyllic fishing village where we imbibed in Pochas, first created here, a traditional drink of sugarcane juice distilled alcohol or sugarcane rum, honey, sugar, lemon juice, and selected fruit juice, each drink hand muddled fresh. I was warned they can sneak up like Long Island Iced Tea, one was delightful 😉 I’m also impressed how the fishers of Camara de Lobos have adapted to their southern storm and surge exposure and haul out their fishing boats when the seas get rough.

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 9- Porto Santo Snorkel

March 22, 2018 Remember Matias, our Porto Santo Island rally race car driver tour guide? We took him up on his invite to go snorkel at a tide pool marine protected area. Awesome co-worker Tara was kind to take photos and videos with my GoPro. I admit I was nervous about the slippery sand cliff hike down to the tide pools, and of all the caravels- Portuguese Man o’ War we saw washed up on the rocky beach, possibly being in the water too? Thankfully they weren’t! All the storms and surges had blown them onto island beaches. Matias timed our snorkel around the peak of flood tide for slack, calm waters, yet we still felt strong currents. A biodiversity of fish and invertebrates in this small shallow area. The highlight, of course, being the common Atlantic octopus who swam surprisingly fast by us, then gave us another peak from her/his home!!

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 8- Desertas Islands and Dolphins!!

March 18, 2018 Awesome Tara arranged a trip for university graduate students and a few of us elders 😉 to sail southeast of Madeira Island to the Desertas Islands, by way of a sailing ketch from the first whale watching tour company on Madeira, started by one of the researchers we work with. Desertas Islands are a Nature Reserve for endangered Mediterranean monk seals and nesting seabirds. We were hoping to see some seals and seabirds but they tend to haul out and nest on the eastern side, while we approached the western side. Notice the 2 houses for the 2 Rangers- the only human inhabitants on the barren Desertas Islands! The geology and strata tell ancient stories. The winds and surf were up again so we couldn’t land and explore a bit. Some kids were seasick and felt better while we moored and some kids went snorkeling in the too cold for me water. We bashed our way back toward Madeira. Taking bonine- meclizine before the trip helped me, unfortunately too late for the kids. Some students hung onto the bowsprit going up and down like an amusement park ride, getting completely soaked and laughing the whole way. Reminded me of my sons doing the same thing the morning after we sailed through a dark night of hurricane force winds. I admire that resilience! No photos of the student bowsprit ride as I was getting sprayed, happy the sun was shining to dry us. Zoom in on the last scenic photo, what looks like a bridge, is the built over the water landing strip at the airport! Seeing all the common and bottlenose dolphins riding our bow and stern wakes made the day 🙂

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 7- On-In The Water- Porto Santo Plants

March 2018 Weather calmed down, we got back out on the ferry and water to do our research! I can’t share details or photos of the research data, but happy to have sighted all the cetaceans we did. On Porto Santo Island I enjoyed all the plant life coming to bloom, many succulents and cactus remind me of Baja and Mexico. The photo of ‘BuggyPower’ is production of energy by gathering and processing the algae from the water by the marina. It looks like they are monitoring the operation well. One particular day I was tired and hot, warmer days were returning, and after walking for more than an hour down the road toward the west side of the island, I was thinking of turning back since it would be that long of a walk back to the ferry. I’m so glad we didn’t! Tara, my awesome co-worker and I made our way down to the water, the longest golden sand beach in the islands. The rest of the beaches throughout the archipelago are mostly rock beaches. Taking my shoes off, rolling up my pant legs, putting my feet into the Atlantic Ocean was refreshing beyond words! We strolled the surf all the way back to the town park we had started at. Some photos show the damage from the storms and surges along the sand cliffs, taking out trees and structures, and the only staircase from the beach to stable ground that guys were working on restoring. I think they liked having their picture taken. Then it got a little dicey for us as the beach became narrow, steep, and rocky by the public pier, no easy route up, and the 8’ flooding spring, new moon tide was peaking. Walking barefoot on rocks in a strong surf is not recommended. I stayed still when the surf came in hoping the rolling rocks wouldn’t hit me too hard, moved when the surf receded and I could see where to step, and slowly climbed up to dry ground with only a minor toe cut, while a kind park worker was keeping an eye on us pointing out the path to make sure we were ok! Pets in the islands are well cared for too, friendly happy dogs also walking the town on Porto Santo Island.

 

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 6- Laurisilva Forests- Levadas- A-Frame Homes

March 12, 2018 The Laurisilva forests are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the mountainous central part of Madeira Island. I had to go see these providers of water. Why the levadas- irrigation canals were built to channel all the cloud moisture and rainfall these dense trees gather in their leaves and drip down to earth. I started at Ribeiro Frio and walked along the trails next to the levadas, listening to birds, and water cascading down while looking out to multiple mountain peaks and valleys to the sea. Then I caught the bus again to the northern coast of Madeira to visit Santana known for their straw thatched roofed A-frame houses. I noticed it was clearer, drier, and more plants in bloom on this side of the island than Funchal on the southern coast. I thought the A-frames houses would be obvious. They weren’t, they are of times past and just preserved now in a small area of town, and I missed the bus stop to get off and tour the town. I realized as the bus headed through the steep valleys and along the coast, that I better get off at the next town to figure out my way back or I’d be on the bus the rest of the day! The people were so friendly at the café I stopped at, and helpful as most Madeira people are, and they called a taxi to take me back to Santana, as it would be many hours for a bus heading back that way. The taxi driver shared great local knowledge and showed me exactly where to catch the bus when I was ready to go back to Funchal. The bus system works very well here and is affordable, although limited in nighttime hours, which I understand with these narrow, switchback, limited view, unlighted roads. I did get bus sick and sea-swell sick, but early on took ½ tablet of bonine- meclizine that really helped calm my stomach yet remain alert. Lovely day being in up in the mountains, the forests, and small villages.

 

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 5- Rua Santa Maria Art

March 11, 2018 Pictures do say a thousand words and more! The street names have meanings, whether referring to a person, month of the year, etc. The street of the place I stayed at is Rua da Saude- means Health Street, I like that. I walked down to explore Santa Maria door and wall art along narrow cobblestone streets with restaurant after restaurant, block after block of art and food. Hostesses and hosts try to lure you in with specials and seafood displayed on ice. This time I did go for the local crab salad that provided me dinner for 2 days 🙂 I took 125 photos, these are my favorites:

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 4- Happy Dolphin Day :)

March 18, 2018 These common dolphins visit Madeira waters too!

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 3- Whale Museum- Cable Cars- Gardens

March 8, 2018 Celebrate International Women’s Day!!!!!!!! A year ago I was on Salt Cay of the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Humpback whales and sea turtles intern. Honored to meet that day the first woman Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson. They are still recovering from the hurricanes. Today I was at the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM) with women from Portugal, Australia, France, and Belguim, we’re all cetacean geeks 😉 Last week I met women from Germany and China. Language and cultural differences, yet we all share mutual care and concern for all people, our oceanlife, our earthlife, and our homes. I am very grateful. Stormy, windy, rainy weather here has kept us grounded. Storm Emma did a lot of damage to some coastal businesses and rock falls throughout the island. We’re working on data processing of thousands of cetacean photos. I struggle with all the excel editing of sightings data and have even more appreciation for data processors!! March was in like a lion, out like a lamb? Hope we get back out on the water next week! There were short breaks in the weather. I toured the Whale Museum in Canical, and rode the cable car up to Monte, then another cable car to the Botanical Gardens. The Whale Museum had an exhibit about past whaling off Madeira, and an exhibit about current cetaceans and research contributed by the scientists I’m working with. A museum guide struck up a conversation with me and she shared her grandfather was a whaler back in the 1940’s. Jobs were few, you were either a fisher, whaler, canal worker, worked in the sugarcane and banana fields, or grape fields for wineries. Whaling crew got monthly salaries, the rest were unstable incomes depending on fish and crop yields. All jobs were very hard labor. The whaling crews made a meager, but dependable living, they didn’t get the wealth of the whaling ship owners and investors. Her mother was barefoot until she got her first pair of shoes at 16 years old. I asked her how she felt about tourism, it can be a mixed impact. She answered, “I have worked here for 4 years now, when I started I told my co-worker I am going to go talk to my friends. My co-worker said ‘I don’t see any of your friends?’ These people here, they are why I have a job and can make a living, they are my friends.” She was also educated about the cetaceans in her waters and their value now. She touched my heart 🙂 It is slow paced here, on island time, winter season, not too crowded, summer businesses closed, so I got a 6 passenger cable car all to myself to go up the mountain and see the gardens! Tho there were sun breaks there was still wind and gusts rockin and rollin the cable car that had me literally singing out loud to myself ‘Keep Breathing’. Cable company wouldn’t sell me return ticket, if wind increased they shut down. But I could bus, taxi, or walk back down the mountain. I could see the potential in the gardens, but majority of plants and trees dormant, they do have seasons here. I admit I’m spoiled by the Butchart Gardens, but glad I went and made it thru the cable car thrill rides 🙂 Hope all are well. Greeting here is a light air kiss on each cheek, I kinda like that 🙂

 

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | May 29, 2018

Madeira Islands post 2- Porto Santo Island Tour

February 25, 2018 These islands remind me in ways of the San Juans! All’s going well, went thru training, got out twice so far sighting cetaceans!! from the ferry- Funchal Madeira to Porto Santo Island similar size and population of San Juan, and Porto Santo gets more sun than Madeira as the mountains catch the clouds! Now we have wind, rain storms coming in, so grounded til it clears. I know, I know many of you are freezing and have snow! It is colder here than I expected, glad I brought layers. I did wander the zig zaggy narrow cobblestone streets looking for another pair of leggings and gloves, as even tho we’re in first class on the ferry- woohoo! we are surveying from the upper outer deck and my fingers froze on the first trip. I found a nice lightweight pair of gloves, warm fingers now, and admired the buildings, stonework, cathedrals, and gardens along my walks, even if I did get lost, I found my way home. The levada- water canals system here is amazing- watch episode 2 of Islands of the Future on netflix, it’s about Madeira Island. I think of the levada flowing thru Funchal to the Atlantic Ocean as a river, and my landmark to find my way back to if I get lost. The road to where I’m staying is uphill, it’s steep all over these islands, sometimes I walk it, other times I take the bus. People are friendly and helpful in this big city of Funchal. Our, my co-worker Tara and I, on our first trip to Porto Santo with Annalisa- a former volunteer to show us the protocol, who knows a local savvy tour and snorkel guide- Matias, who took us on a whole tour of Porto Santo Island. We got the back stories, off the beaten path, lots of laughs, and some high speed travel, spins, and turns in his toyota. He said he was a rally car racer 😉 We are going to do a snorkel tour with him, he knows where the octopus are 🙂 Great fun and entertainingly educational to see and hear the local perspective. We have a layover on Porto Santo that gives us time to also process our data. Click photo to see larger photos. The first 5 photos are of Funchal, the rest are of Porto Santo. Hope all is well!!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | March 8, 2018

Madeira Islands Portugal post 1

The last few years during wintertime I have been doing whale, dolphin, and sea turtle internships around the world. I am attracted to islands and peninsulas, migrating on my cetacean quest to wherever they are, grateful for the opportunities!

February 14, 2018 Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m at Funchal Madeira Island, Portugal, helping out research documenting all cetaceans sighted on their ferry route from Funchal to Porto Santo Island and back.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | December 21, 2017

2017 Reflections

Looking back at 2017 such overwhelming events and times of despair. Our endangered Southern Resident orca now only 76 individuals and the least amount of sightings here in the Salish Sea in 43 years of research. Southern Resident orca Lolita-Tokitae still in captivity although public support is expanding to bring her home.

Read More…

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | January 2, 2017

Eternal J2 Granny

http://www.whaleresearch.com/j2

We may not have been part of hers, (aside from impacts) and folks may not understand, but J2 Granny and her clan, tribe, are a part of our human Orca culture and society. Beings we are elated to experience glimpses of their culture, society, communication, relationships, oceanic lives. They have full, complex, emotional lives, with larger brains and development than we have, without destroying themselves or their ecosystems.

Why are we humans destroying each other, other beings, and our own ecosystems? Why are those of us beyond day to day survival so focused on just ourselves- humans? Aren’t our lives rich, extraordinary, creative, meaningful,  because of the tapestry of all beings on earth?

Today the Center for Whale Research annouced J2 Granny MIA- presumed dead. Estimated to be 74 to 105 years old. (I hope her previously collected samples will be analyzed by NOAA appointed laboratories to establish her age.)

J2 Granny was the leader, the wise elder, the Grand Matriarch (and great-great grandmother) of the community-clan-tribe of Southern Resident Killer Whales- Orca.

Who will lead now? L25 Ocean Sun is the next eldest, thought to be mother of L Tokitae-Lolita (last survivor of captures from SRKW), she has no other surviving offspring.

Then a large gap in age with the surviving Orca of 78 + 1 today.

The experience and knowledge that goes with Granny, hopefully lives on in her tribe and us.

J2 Granny my inspiring favorite whale.

Nature may have taken her course, but devastating none the less. Somehow I thought J2 Granny would be immortal. Not in body, but yes in spirit, hold her in my heart always.

I relate her to my own family, my own father, friends, tribe.

J2 Granny was the first free Orca that looked at me, eye to eye connecting of spirits from other worlds. That was shortly after I began this career, I felt bonded to her. No wonder I feel devastated, and by all the Orca losses. I feel like I’ve lost dear friends.

Interconnections and interdependence between all life on earth should be part of essential education in schools and humans along with reading writing arithmetic.

Nature Basics 101.

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | November 8, 2016

Resiliency

November 8, 2016

Regardless of tonight’s United States political election results, I still believe in resiliency. Resiliency of humanity and best human spirit in caring for each other and all our shared life on earth. Tho I must say other animal matriarchal societies like orca and elephants are excellent examples!

I am sad to report since my last post that J28 Polaris and her 10 month old son J54 Dipper are gone. Our endangered Southern Resident orca whales need our collective resiliency and help. The Center for Whale Research held a press conference October 28, 2016 announcing this and the following obituary http://www.whaleresearch.com/j28

When I heard the news, I also learned all 35 members of Lpod were in tight groups swimming together down Haro Strait, along with Pacific white-sided dolphins, sporadic visitors. A bit uncanny as Lpod families are rarely sighted all together, especially this time of year. Jpod and Kpod were up north in the Salish Sea. Perhaps they had all gathered and grieved. I went out to the Westside Land Bank property and sat and absorbed the grace of the whales, the crystal clear air, soothing my heartache. As I walked back up the trail, a wildflower dandelion growing out of the harsh windswept rocky habitat caught my eye and reminded me of the resiliency of undisturbed, cared for nature.

Land Bank Dandelion

Land Bank Dandelion

Mount Rainier about 90 miles away

Mount Rainier about 90 miles away

Lpod Olympic Mountains

Lpod Olympic Mountains

L41 Mega oldest male at 39 years old

L41 Mega oldest male at 39 years old

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Pacific white-sided dolphins

Pacific white-sided dolphins

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 26, 2016

Reflections

Going through photos and thoughts of experiences over the last few months, I realize they focus on sightings of nature and free life. But it is about sharing all this with people and their reactions. Maybe in the future I should include more people in photos too! I am filled with gratitude and honor for all the fellow advocates and opportunities to continue to learn science, present on the ferries, represent at events, participate with organizations, work and volunteer by sea and by land. People come to these islands from all around the world! Just this year- from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, England, Europe, Australia, Japan! Seeing the joy in their eyes, indelible memories, becoming aware of our positive and negative impacts, given tools and actions they can participate in, I do believe people can and will choose to live a bit more caring and respectful of all life forms.

Today there is grave concern about J28 Polaris, as she started looking emaciated in August, and her son J54 Dipper still nurses and looks smaller than normal. With the losses of 2 neonates, L-95 Nigel, and J14 Samish, this reinforces the dire straits these chinook-king salmon dependent endangered Southern Resident orca are in. Please care and attend one of these meetings, submit your comments to restore the salmon these orca so desperately need, and continue to call the White House 202-456-1111 asking President Obama to issue an Executive Order to breach-remove enough of the 4 lower Snake River dams. http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2016/feds-announce-hearings-for-public-to-weigh-in-on-lower-snake-river-dam-removal

Food First For Survival (Hydration also comes from their food – not from sea water)

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J28 Polaris with son J54 Dipper

September 22, 2016 Wedding Reception Whales

Today, our dear fellow mariners, naturalists, sea life advocates got married on their sailboat, then continued with a reception at Lime Kiln Point State Park, aptly also known as Whale Watch Park, since the groom predicted whales would come by at 4pm, and he was right!! Our beloved Southern Resident orca came south down Haro Strait with the ebb tide and slack water. First the L54’s porpoising- speed swimming with purpose! Later some J’s and K’s through sunset. Maybe they got the invite to come by and join the celebration 🙂 I think the eagle enjoyed watching the festivities too.

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September 18, 2016 September Southern Resident Orca

It’s difficult to pinpoint what about September is so special here in the Salish Sea. Knowing the orca will be sighted less as they travel further to find their food? (diminishing salmon) The softer light, and crisp clear air of autumn? The unusual sightings of other sea life? Out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for a sunset trip, the cloudy sun dappled sky showed the exhalations of whales! NOAA researchers were attempting to get breath samples of Southern Resident orca, from some members of all 3 pods that were in the area. The advanced technology now helps analyze health and pathology of cetaceans. Just hearing the breath and seeing the orca swim about brought grins and squeals by our passengers, no matter the few drops of rain, followed by double rainbows and dramatic sunset!

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September 14, 2016 Kpod Haro Strait

Out at Westside Land Bank property- preserved and accessible to the public, an evening from 5pm to 6:30pm to be thankful to see Kpod orca coming down Haro Strait with slack water after a flooding tide. They were spread out, foraging with tail fluke and pectoral fin lobs, and always awing breaches!

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August 8, 2016 Transients-Bigg’s Whales in San Juan Channel

Busy whales, T36, T36B’s, T38, T99’s hunting right along the west coast of Lopez Island, then mid channel and over to Griffin Bay. Lots of tail fluke slaps, spyhops, and back stroke swimming!

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August 1, 2016 Transient-Bigg’s Whales in Canada

Active whales outside of Active Pass in the Strait of Georgia! T34’s, T37, T37B’s families successfully, cooperatively together hunting Harbor porpoise, plowing by the boats!!

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July 31, 2016 Heart of Summer Sail

Sailing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on a beautiful, calm, sunny summer afternoon and evening, catching the last of a flood tide, then slack water made glass like conditions and extended visibility. Hoping orca were still in the area, a family that had been to my Baja gray whale camp many years ago, had no expectations, just happy to be out on the Salish Sea. About 6pm we saw blows off of Eagle Cove and respectfully approached, shutting down the engine. J16 Slick and her 2 year old daughter J50 Scarlet, and J28 Polaris with her kids- J46 Star and 7 month old son at the time J54 Dipper, seemed to be milling, resting, and foraging. There were some spyhops, and J50 Scarlet did some tail fluke slaps on the water. We could see other orca further out in the strait, so we put the hydrophone in the water to see if they were vocalizing. They were, interesting that some sounded like Kpod calls tho we hadn’t sighted any Kpodders! Then J50 Scarlet came right over to the boat, turned on her side and looked up at each of us. She then mouthed the hydrophone! We could hear the muffle!! J16 Slick approached as- come over here! and J50 Scarlet rejoined her mother. The other 3 of J16 Slick’s kids and 1 grandson were there, son J26 Mike was much further out in the strait. The whales slowly meandered southeast at about 7:30pm as we sailed back with the sun setting light, and treasured nature connections.

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July 28, 2016 Patos Island

Great to go hike Patos Island, part of the marine parks and one of the most northeastern islands of the San Juans. See a different view where Boundary Pass meets the Strait of Georgia, a mighty confluence of water! Turtleback Mountain on Orcas Island, and curious birds. That looks like a whale tail cloud on Mt Baker!

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July 21, 2016 Superpod 5

A week long gathering of folks from around the world to learn and share science and action for our orca and all cetaceans, topped off at Lime Kiln Point State Park- aka Whale Watch Park. Spectacular evening filled with music, Jpod and Lpod orca!! A family of whales stayed in front of the lighthouse, in the calm flooding tide and slack waters from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. They were rolling at the surface showing pectoral fins, and doing headstands- showing tail flukes. Southern Resident orca were all over Haro Strait, I counted 10 breaches! Spyhopping, tail fluke lobing- splashing the water, hopefully feasting on salmon. The lighting was surreal with storm clouds approaching, rain, thunder, lightning, and rainbows over the Olympic Mountains, yet rays of sunset shined on our magical time and place. Did the whales feel our caring intentions, hear the music and our delight? They inspire us.

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Random Photos

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2016-9-4-southbeach-overlook-urban-fox

 2016-8-25-coast-salish-reef-net-totem-and-salmon-story-boards-at-english-camp

2016-8-25-coast-salish-reef-net-totem-and-salmon-story-boards-at-english-camp

2016-8-9-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-8-9-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-7-26-rabbit-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-7-26-rabbit-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-7-14-great-blue-heron-in-tree-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-7-14-great-blue-heron-in-tree-anacortes-ship-harbor

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2016-6-19-my-backyard-interspecies-interaction

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | July 16, 2016

Make Friends With Whales

July 13, 2016

A wonderful sunny summer Wednesday to see some Jpodders dancing the Westside waltz- traveling up and down San Juan Island, hopefully they are finding enough Chinook-King salmon to sustain their families. J14’s heading south, sighted by Sentinel Island about 3:30pm with more Orca out in Haro Strait. As the groups swam toward Henry Island, one whale breached! Then back floated with pectoral fins waving in the air! Hello! The sea was calm and pond like, since the high tide had ended and tide was now minimal, about a 1/3 of a foot of ebbing water. At about 4pm I am once again revered to see Matriarch, Wise Elder of the Southern Resident clan- J2 Granny steadily swimming south, with her adopted orphan L87 Onyx further out in the strait, but keeping pace.

On my ferry talks, kids ask the most imaginative questions! This week, after a young boy patiently listened to information I was sharing, he asked me “How do we make friends with whales?” I paused for a moment, then answered we make sure they have enough food, clean water, and don’t bother them. Keep telling about whales- their stories. Play music they like may be a way to communicate?  I explained some of Jim Nollman’s work, and my friendly fun experiences with Orca, Gray and Humpback whales.

Whales and dolphins make friends with us, wish I had remembered parts of this quote; “To the dolphin alone, nature has given that which the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage…it is a genial friend to all and has helped mankind.” Plutarch

Hello Breach!

Hello Breach!

Grand Matriarch J2 Granny

Grand Matriarch J2 Granny

Adopted Orphan L87 Onyx

Adopted Orphan L87 Onyx

 

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