Summary: August 31st 2023

Northern Residents: [I15s, I31s heard]

Biggs orcas: heard in Blackfish Sound

Humpback Whales: Inukshuk, Guardian and Baby, Quartz

Pacific White-sided dolphins

Just after 1am a humpback in Blackfish Sound let out with a pretty good set of calls. It did not last long but it was very distinctive, getting the attention of everyone near and far.

At 3:10am Tomoko, listening in Japan, heard a very faint I31 call. Suddenly things began happening everywhere. Dolphins had already begun to chatter in Johnstone Strait in the midst of another (or perhaps the same?) humpback also now in the same locale. Ten minutes later, at 3:14am, there were very distant I15 calls with another set of dolphins in Blackfish Sound followed by now clearer and more frequent I31 calls.

Previously, the evening before, the I15s and I31s had followed the A23s to the west in Johnstone Strait around 8pm. This begged the question – had they taken all this time (7-8 hours) to travel the distance from Telegraph Cove to the “top end of Blackfish Sound via Weynton Pass? Perhaps they were reluctant to leave. When their calls faded around 4:15am they must have continued into Queen Charlotte Strait where, in still slow form, they lingered even more. Kate could hear them on her Bere Point hydrophone at 7:30am and at 9am they were still there. Dense fog prevented her from seeing them but she estimated from the strength of their blows that they were about 3 miles offshore. They disappeared shortly afterwards. Neither of us heard any A5 calls so it is not understood what happened to the A23s.

The humpback who had been in Johnstone Strait with the dolphins kept up a presence for an hour after the orcas disappeared from Blackfish Sound. After 5:17am it became “quiet” and it would remain so all day. Focus naturally shifted to observing the humpbacks in Blackney Pass. Inukshuk came by in the morning fog close to the Hanson Island shore and in the later afternoon when the fog had disappeared Guardian and her baby showed up with Quartz not far away. The uneventful day had slipped by in a relaxed sort of way in the absence of busy orcas.

As the dark settled in and the wind began to rise, Biggs orcas called briefly around 8:45pm in Blackfish Sound adding a final short entry in the book.

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