A pretty straightforward day: A Humpback making “noises” in Blackfish Sound throughout the early morning hours; Resident orcas; a group of Biggs orcas and of course dolphins, lots of dolphins.
Now the details. The humpback was active from 2:25am until approximately 4am, – they do seem to be getting their voices ready for the Fall. The Resident orcas came back from eastern Johnstone Strait where they had spent the rest of yesterday and most of this day’s morning. At 8:13am Patrick relayed that ten orcas were westbound near Yorke Island in the Sayward region of the Strait. By 11:29am, very faint calls were detected on the Main rubbing beach hydrophone. More than an hour later (12:51pm) a group of orcas was reported heading west from Naka Creek. Quite amazing to think that the reach of the Main Beach hydrophone extends that far east! The dolphin calls started not long afterwards.
It took a while longer for the A23s to reach the eastern boundary of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve where the Cliff Research group saw them at 1:47pm. It was 2:17pm when they touched the Main rubbing beach briefly. Just before this occurred the T049As were seen further west at 2:10pm near Kaikash beach. They were also headed west.
The A23s passed Strider Beach without bothering to rub. They were fairly spread out and had dolphins alongside them as they passed. By 2:30pm, they had disappeared to the west. Attention then shifted back to the Main beach where “G” clan calls started to be heard. From several previous reports, there were several groups making their way west from the Cracroft island shore to Vancouver Island’s. With the help of the remote camera, a line of orcas offshore proceeded west then made a right-angle turn towards the rubbing beaches arriving first at Main at 3:30pm then travelling on to Strider Beach a couple of minutes later. There was a very good pass underwater by a couple of the westbound orcas. These I15s became very involved at Strider. Their rub began at 3:35pm and did not end until 3:55pm. Their calls at times were so clear and loud that they echoed back to the Main Beach hydrophone. Distant I31s were also heard during this session. The I31s, in reverse of the day before’s parade, were following the I15s and the A23s west and would soon arrive for their turn at the beaches after the I15s moved on. Hard to understand what the dolphins are playing at. They come right in with the orcas at the beaches and are very energetic around them. The orcas seem to respond by moving away offshore and turn back. Sometimes this works and the dolphins ease off but the dolphins seem undeterred most of the time and will carry on flanking the orcas to and fro. The dolphins don’t ever rub but their body movements through the water create loud water noises at times.
At 3:59pm the I31s (specifically the I35s at first) began to rub. Again the orcas looked as if they were playing dodge with the dolphins and this rub was over by 4:08pm.
As the orcas streamed past the beaches there would be another quick touchdown and then a longer effort from 4:19pm until 4:25pm. A young sea lion poked his head up and watched as the orcas and the dolphins left to the west.
Disturbing news was posted that around 3pm a large fuel spill had occurred around the Telegraph Cove area. The westbound T049As were nearby by 3:25pm and the Resident orcas would advance in that direction eventually. Jared Towers, who was out on the water, went by the area later in the afternoon and commented that the gasolene smell was very bad between Telegraph Cove and Alert Bay but that there was no sheen on the water.
Before the last rub ended at 4:25pm the A23s had maintained their sizable lead passing Kaizumi and carrying on to the west. The I15s and the following I31s would not get there until around 5:15pm by which time they were quite spread out with groups favouring both shores and mid strait. By 7pm, the lead Resident orcas had arrived off Telegraph Cove with others headed in that direction from across the Strait. Their calls faded soon after 8pm.
This is where events of the day ended. A hot shower and sauna were next on the agenda.