Yesterday, early in the afternoon, came the exciting news that “incoming” orcas were on their way, heading from Lizard Point towards Donegal Head on Malcolm Island. They chose to enter Johnstone Strait via Weynton Pass, and were in two groups. There was some initial speculation as to who was there, but once DFO’s Jared Towers arrived on scene, it became apparent that the new arrivals were two matrilines from the A4 and A5 pods, the A11s, including Springer! and the A8s. Sadly, as we had heard earlier from our colleagues at Cetacealab, 32 year old A13 (Skeena) was no longer among the A11s. Countering this loss, Jared reported that a new baby was swimming beside A56 (Nahwitti) so the A11s have lost one member and gained another since last year. A13’s absence means that the profile of the A11s has changed considerably, no longer having a tall male dorsal fin swimming among the smaller ones, so we will have to be more careful about identification when we see them this year.
The groups both made their way east along the Vancouver Island side of the Strait, and into and through Robson Bight, pausing to do some energetic foraging near “Critical Point” at the eastern edge of the Bight. Soon after, they headed into the rubbing beaches for their first “rub” of the 2010 summer season. The A11s had a long rub at the Main beach, and the A8s a briefer one. Both groups were silent during their rubs, apart from some brief echolocation. When they left the beaches, they continued heading east, clearing the eastern boundary of the Ecological Reserve around 6:30 pm. We think they continued heading east overnight, possibly bound for Nodales Channel and the A36s with A12, as we did not hear them return overnight.
This July 7th was sunny from end to end, and the ocean was flat until well into the afternoon, making this altogether a quite perfect day!
Posted by Paul, July 8th
Photo is of the A8s in 2009, also by Paul