Summary: September 10th 2023

Northern Residents: A54s, A23s, I04s

Humpback Whale: Squiggle

Pacific White-sided dolphins heard

There is a change that occurs every year as the days get shorter and the nights longer, the humpback whales become more and more vocal, until one night the first song of the year will happen. From midnight until the early hours of the morning, there were a number of humpback calls. From the deck one individual could be heard tonal blowing, the sound echoing throughout Blackney Pass. Then at 5:30am this whale went into song. It was a practice session, lasting only 6 minutes, but was a taste of what will hopefully come as fall arrives.

It was a quiet orca night, only a few calls heard at 4:20am in Johnstone Strait, accompanied by Pacific white-sided dolphin chatter. It was a surprise to suddenly hear rubbing on the beach at Strider at 7:00am, not a single call, just the sound of orca bodies passing over the pebbles. From the angle of the camera 2 female orcas were seen. They only rubbed a few times and then travelled to the west.

It was not until 7:40am when there was a report of 5 orcas seen in the Reserve travelling west, that a few very faint A5 and then A1 type calls were heard. These faint calls continued and were eventually heard on the Kaizumi hydrophone and a few calls on Cracroft. At 8:50am, Jim Borrowman reported that orcas were spread out foraging opposite Telegraph Cove and that they could hear A Clan calls on their hydrophone. Calls could still be heard on Kaizumi. A few “G” clan I15 calls indicated that perhaps the I04 family was still in the area. After all, they had been constant companions to the A23s, A25s and especially the A54s. A clear A54 signature call lent credence to the idea that they were still in the area as well.

At 10:50am there was a report from Scotty that the A23s had been sighted travelling west through Weynton Passage. It had been quiet on the hydrophones for a long time when both A5, A1 and sparse I15 calls were heard on the Flower Island hydrophone at 1:45pm. On the remote camera, we were able to see 1 male and a few female orcas off in the distance – the orca families had come through Weynton and were now crossing the western end of Blackfish Sound. By 2:50pm distant A1 and A5 calls could still be heard. Megan at Cracroft Point relayed that AJ had sighted orcas spread out between Donegal Head and Lizard Point foraging. The last report of the day was at 4:11pm when 12 orcas were sighted travelling west towards Lizard Point in Queen Charlotte Strait.

The evening was very quiet, not even a humpback whale or a dolphin was heard over the hydrophones. Hopefully, the orcas have not made their fall departure and more families are yet to arrive and the humpback whales will sing throughout the night very soon!

Mark and Jesse concluded their visit at OrcaLab. They had stayed in the little cabin for a few days, visited, and went fishing. Tills caught a nice-sized ling cod, and Mark caught a lovely coho. Both were enjoyed at dinner after Mark and Jesse sailed away on their sailboat.

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