Summary: August 17th 2023

Northern Residents: A42s (here!)

Pacific White-sided dolphins

It was a pretty uneventful night. At 7:37am there was a surprise report of four Northern Residents off Robson Bight. Nothing really came of this sighting. The fog was pretty thick everywhere and we had to get ready for the departure of Joel and Rob before the expected NW winds picked up but after the fog cleared enough. They departed in good time and made it to Telegraph Cove despite the bumpy, splashy ride. Jérémie, the boat driver, got back safely. The wind continued to increase throughout the day but the sun also came out. In fact the day was spectacular.

Just after 1pm we heard echolocation on the Main Rubbing beach system. This was followed by a sighting of 5 orcas east of the Reserve close to the Vancouver Island shore. In quite short time we saw them heading for Strider Rubbing beach and at 1:16pm they began a rub. Unfortunately we had gremlins in our system which was having difficulties handling the demands of cameras and hydrophones. Some of it worked, especially the underwater camera. While watching we saw a distinctive saddle patch and knew instantly that we were not watching the A23s and suspected the A42s were finally returning after their ever so long sojourn in Georgia Strait. They had been observed in Okisollo Channel around 9:30pm the previous evening. Screen shots confirmed individuals in the group. There were no calls to offer any acoustic clues so it was great to have those brief visuals.

With the clearer skies, the Cliff Research camp was now able to watch as well. They reported that when the A42s left the western boundary of the Ecological Reserve at 2:30pm they had formed into a tight group. Other than some more echolocation at 3pm the group remained very, very quiet while steadily headed west. Just before 4pm the A42s were off Kaikash beach, still very close to shore. Megan was sure she would not be able to see them properly in the very exercised waves.

While they continued west we were taking the chance to review the underwater video. Lucy was able to identify everyone except A88, Chameleon which was a worry as everyone’s count was coming up short as well.

Progress west continued to be slow. They were opposite Telegraph Cove by 6:45pm. Jim Borrrowman said there were no calls despite the fact that Pacific White-sided dolphins were there as well. This was about the last visual report for the day, and now we wait to see if and what the night might tell us.

For a while now a few of the increasing number of sea lions have begun to haul out on the rocks near the Parson Island Light. This happens each year as the sea lions return from their rookeries further up the coast. One young fellow even tried to jump on to the Hanson Island rocks usually reserved for later occupation.

A huge effort was made during the day to clean the guest house in preparation of the arrival of three guests, Ed, James and Arabella from the UK. We just hope the wind will calm down enough to allow us to get into Alert Bay and pick them up! The forecast is not exactly promising. Wish us and them luck.

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