Summary: April 2023

Orcas: A23s, A25s, Bigg’s

Humpback and Minke Whales

April Fool! We had high expectations for April as March had finished as a “lamb”. But April hung on to what seemed like a lingering winter refusing Spring. Rain, snow, wind, sleet were the norm. A little hard on the flowers struggling to fulfill their own calendar while the hummingbirds delayed their return, arriving later than they had ever done before.

Despite the inclement weather, Janie Wray, who had taken over from our winter caretakers, Cam and Mat, loved being back at the Lab, a place she has known well ever since she first came as an assistant in 1996. This time she brought along her two dogs, “Bear” and “Sasha” who loved the freedom of the forest and the myriad things that grabbed their attention. Thankfully, no actual bears turned up this Spring but Janie did suspect that a wolf might be visiting the island. Janie was joined on a few occasions by Lisa Larsson, another former OrcaLab assistant. The longer days provided some compensation. Lots of time to get things done despite the weather. As a result we head for summer with a full wood shed, data copying complete, reports filed, the new volunteers interviewed and selected, and work plans and projects determined. All of this served to nudge our sense that the Lab will soon be really busy once again. We can’t wait!

April was not entirely uneventful, with Bigg’s orcas on the 8th, 13th, and 24th making their presence known. There were also the first reports that Humpback and Minke Whales were making their way into the area once again, although it would not be until early May that any humpbacks would actually traverse Blackney Pass. A very reassuring report on 17 April informed us that Fife’s family, the A23s, and their usual companions, the A25s had been sighted in Finlayson Channel (central coast). The coast was definitely stirring!

Janie was particularly busy in April overseeing the completion of the Nature Fund of Canada’s support for the four year British Columbia Coast-Wide Hydrophone Network (BCCHN) project. Three independent NGO groups, of which OrcaLab was one, had joined together with the aim of developing new and existing hydrophone networks in four key locations along the coast that would deliver similarly consistent high quality data so that our collective understanding of the coastal soundscape might be improved. Janie had undertaken the role of lead administrator of the project. Over the four years OrcaLab revamped its old analogue hydrophone network by installing the new calibrated hydrophones.

It was a lot of work but with a lot of the heavy lifting (the installs of hydrophones and the kinks and set backs worked out) behind us we are now developing tools to help us with analyses of the large existing and on going data collection. This is exciting and a great outcome of everyone’s hard work. A new website and interactive dashboard are in the works. Again, we can’t wait!

Towards the latter part of April, Janie was finally able to enjoy some sunshine and calmer seas, confirming for her that there was no where else she would rather be!

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