The area has been awash in Bigg’s activity recently. We begin with October 3. Throughout the night our encounters (the T069Ds had been in Blackney Pass the previous day) continued with an amazingly sustained three hours (12:04 am – 2:54am) of their calling in Blackfish Sound. What had excited this effort? We will never know of course but it did speak to how dug into the area multiple groups are right now.
Humpbacks were not denied their voice while the Bigg’s prevailed and Claire noted during the review of the night recordings the several times humpbacks were heard, some of the sound sequences were very beautiful. Also the humpbacks had the last word ending their calling around 6:30am.
Astonishingly, the night was clear once again, the stars very bright – sheer magic with all that was going on below. We endured the fog in the morning and then welcomed the warm bright sun in the afternoon. Summer has yet to leave us.
The day was uneventful. We sent visiting Mark and Jesse off to get a fish for dinner. They had already harvested a basket of chanterelles. Claire harvested greens from the garden and Jérémie made bread. We sat down to all this bounty and felt as if Thanksgiving had come a week early.
The starry night showed itself once again and the humpbacks, without any Bigg’s contribution this time, started up just after 11pm. The humpbacks ruled the early morning hours. Hour after hour they (it sounded like more than one) moaned, creaked, sang, whistled and groaned. One had the feeling the night was all about feeding and less about socializing on this occasion. They carried on past dawn.
Megan and Helena had gotten up early to participate in a Born Free Foundation endeavour to mark World Animal Day. Several schools in the UK participated. By the time it was finished dawn was just breaking and the inevitable fog rolling in.
As Mark and Jesse were preparing to leave in the afternoon the fog was thining but a thick bank still lay along the shore of Parson Island. On the edge of this bank the tall form of a male orca was seen fleetingly. It took an eternity for this whale to surface again but when he finally did so the fog had dissipated and we saw that there were three orcas in total. It was 1:15pm. We became convinced that these orcas were the same T049As as two days previous. They were almost in the exact same spot and aiming once again to worry the sea lions gathered around the rocks near the Parson Island Light. This time however, the mood was different. The orcas were much more low keyed and although they created a small buzz amongst the sea lions in the water at the Light and later in the first bay on Parson Island, their pace was more nonchalant. Unlike the time before when they took nearly three hours to finally move on, this time they worked their way along the shoreline and into the space between Parson and Hanson Islands much faster. Their incredibly long dives made it a challenge to follow them. We gave up just before 1:30pm.
At 2pm Claire saw a sea otter pass headed south along the Hanson Island shore.
Mark and Jesse, now in their sailboat, proved very helpful. While tacking across Blackney into Blackfish Sound they saw and reported 5 orcas just around the corner from the Lab. Sure enough at 2:12pm the T060s popped up off Burnt Point. There were five orcas so we suspect T002B might have been there too just as she was the other day. They were in a hurry and moved smartly parallel to the Hanson shore and out of view by 2:26pm. Based on the boats that were following them they may have gone west after arriving in Johnstone Strait. We cannot be sure but they, still in a hurry, may have been the ones Mark and Jesse off Stubbs Island at 3:56pm. Elizabeth Zwamborn saw T060 and T060C in Spring Passage around 6pm. They went through the passage and carried on north.
We too were not done quite yet with Bigg’s orcas. The T049As turned up once more between Parson Island Light and the edge of Parson Island. This time they caused some panicking amongst the sea lions especially in that same first bay on Parson Island. By 5:07pm they had moved further along Parson Island, a pattern repeating itself! Once off the south end of Parson they took a long dive and we assumed they cleared to the south. Then around 6:40pm they showed up yet again. This time they cruised the sea lions hauled out on the Hanson Island shore. They were no more lucky here and carried on past the Lab during a long deep dive and resurfaced near Burnt Point at 6:45pm. After they cleared our view at 6:48pm we were able to follow them till 6:53pm on the remote camera in Blackfish Sound.
A pretty evening sky and sunset followed and we readied ourselves for the night ahead. Dolphins became chatty in Johnstone Strait at 9:20pm and then two less than vocal humpbacks swirled around close to Flower Island in Blackfish Sound and Parson Island in Blackney Pass.