Summary: July 4th 2024

Northern Residents: A23s, [A42s? East]

Humpbacks: Inukshuk, Meniscus, Argonaut, Stitch

PWD

During the night there were no further signs of the A5s but the humpbacks seemed to be quite active and we were made aware, from time to time, of movement, occasional grunts and whups, splashes and bubbles.

Day came and still no news of the A5s. Then at 10:45am clear calls. The whales were on their way back west! Obviously we all wondered if it would be all of them?

Apparently not. As the morning unfolded we realised that it was only the A23s who had made the journey back. About ten minutes after the first calls we could see their fins in the distance east of the Ecological Reserve. A few individuals appeared to be travelling closer to the Cracroft Island shore before the Cliff Research site reported seeing more passing the Main Rubbing beach. Sure enough, at 11:01am 2 to 3 orcas began a rub at Strider beach just west of the Main beach. The rub ended 11 minutes later and was followed by a lot of N3 calls and echo location. They continued to call as they journeyed westward.

By 1:19pm their calls were on the Cracroft Point system as they approached the entrance to Blackney Pass. With the current opposing their efforts progress was slow and disjointed. A60, seen on the remote camera, had turned east before 1:48pm, and so did others. But this was not their final intention as they took the opportunity to forage and organise their approach to Blackney Pass. Dolphins had not abandoned the orcas and were nearby as were humpbacks who were also attempting to negotiate against the current in the rip off Blackney Pass. Later we learned from Jackie that it was Argonaut and Meniscus. Inukshuk was already resting in Blackfish by this time and Stitch was suspected to be around too.

For the longest time we lost track of the orcas – it looked like they had finally moved into Blackney Pass but their progress must have been further impeded before they came into view of the Lab at 2:36pm.

They moved well, still foraging, slightly spread out. A60 pushed ahead. He was followed by the growing male, A95 while A43, A69, A126 and A109 followed. Inukshuk was right there accompanying the orcas as they travelled through.

Encouraging to think that there were enough fish out there to make them stop every so often. Jared shared that he had earlier got a prey sample from A109 when the whales were still in Johnstone Strait.

The A23s cleared our view to the north by 4:33pm and resumed their N3 expressions.

Alex watched them forage their way to Double Bay, then Donegal Head. When a cruise ship passed they tightened up their group and headed for Lizard Point in Queen Charlotte Strait.

This brought the encounter with the A23s to an end for the day.

Other activity in the area included a sighting of the T060s in Cormorant Channel. This was around 4pm and they passed the Pearse Island shoreline on their way to Johnstone Strait. Thanks Marieke for this report.

We will wait with interest to find out what happened to the A42s yesterday. Are they east? And will the A23s return? Each day is different from the previous one and always unfolds as it will.

Listen now

Stream our live hydrophone audio