Summary: August 18th 2023


Northern Residents: A34s, A23s, A42s, Bs, Rs (heard), I15s (heard), ?others

Humpbacks: Quartz, Hunter

We begin, as we must, with the sad news that Tokitae has died. She was captured in 1970, one year later than Corky and endured captivity at the Miami Seaquarium for 53 years. She was just 4 years old when taken. Beyond the sadness of her tragedy, never getting that chance to return to her home waters despite plans well underway, lies an anger in our hearts. It cannot be helped because her life was wasted plain and simple. Some will argue that she served to educate the public about orcas, that she was an ambassador for her species. Her reality… her reality was a life spent in a too small inadequate tank, with only circles to swim, and since her companion Hugo died no other orcas for company or comfort. That she survived so long was not testament to the care she received but her dauntless beautiful spirit. She was denied a life where she grew up amongst her own, with her mother and siblings, in her real ocean home. Left free, she would have contributed to the well being of her community passing her mother’s traditions on to the babies she should have had. Those who cry about the dire plight of the Southern Resident orcas need look no further than the harm that was done when Lolita and the others from her community were taken in the 1960s, a generation lost. They have struggled to recover ever since. With her death we hope that the tragedy and uselessness of captivity becomes more poignant and sharper and serves to remind us, though she is gone, there are still minds to change and work to be done to stop this “industry” once and for all. Free Corky!

The notes for most of our day filled only two pages of the Lab notebook but so much was happening elsewhere. Orcas seemed to be converging from all directions. The first word we had that something was afoot came just before 10am when Donna McKay relayed that 20+ orcas had been seen heading east through Goletas Channel west of Port Hardy. Later, AJ sent us an amazing recording taken in the same area. In the recording we could hear Rs and I15s, perhaps As as well. AJ later reported that the A34s had been confirmed. Around 2:30pm, Marieke on the Naiad said that they were with the A23s off the Masterman Islets and 20 minutes later off Round Island – again the general vicinity of Port Hardy.

Jared Towers got a report from a friend on the Alert Bay ferry that there was a group of orcas. Going out he found the A42s and the B7s off Yellow Bluff and the western end of Cormorant Island at 6:15pm. They were all clumped together, spyhopping and laying around slowly going eastward. We asked about B13 who Jared said looked great despite his flopped over fin (he has had this condition for years). Importantly B7 who was estimated to be born in 1949 (making her 74 years old) was looking well too. A88, our concern the other day, was there and fine too.

It was just past 10pm when we began to hear the A42s (not forgetting their travelling companion, A94 from A4 pod) and the B07s as the two groups crossed Pearse Passage and entered Johnstone Strait. Jared had mentioned that the A42s and B07s went past his place in Alert Bay and that there were four blows following and wondered if these might be Bigg’s orcas, and further wondered if it might be the T060s who have been so present recently… This was an interesting side note as at 11:39pm we heard Bigg’s vocals in Johnstone Strait.

A Northern Resident rub began at 11:46pm along Vancouver Island. From there we believe the B07s and the A42s continued east.

More of this story will be included in the next day summary.

Today we welcomed James, Arabella and Ed from the UK. They will be staying with us for a few days. Good timing on their part. Lucky that despite the high winds Paul was able to bring them back from Alert Bay safely!

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