Summary: September 11th 2023

Pacific White-sided dolphins

Dall Porpoise

A rather different day today: A slight southeast breeze, rain and no resident orcas or humpbacks heard or seen. A few dolphins circulated, chatted just before 10am and travelled past the Lab just after 7pm.

While contemplating all day long whether the resident orcas would return it gave everyone a chance to do other things: The boat was loaded on the high tide for the town trip the next morning; Adrien carried on organising winter’s wood supply; Naomi packed up her belongings; and a crew set out to do a CTD scan in the Sonic.

“CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth, and refers to an electronic device used to detect how the conductivity and temperature of water changes relative to depth.”

At regular intervals. OrcaLab tests the waters at selected hydrophone locations for these ocean conditions. The data from the CTD scans informed by the ocean state at the hydrophone sites is logged and stored for analysis.

Today, Janie took Juliette, Tills, Carla and Adrien along. They visited and tested four sites, near the Lab, Flower Island, Cracroft Point and Kaizumi.

They worked efficiently and were back in good time. The wind and rain stopped shortly after their return (of course) and the afternoon and evening became quite lovely. The gentle southeaster apparently had been just a hint of what’s to come later in the year.. Afterall, summer is still here for another ten days.

The sea lions are increasing in numbers but have yet to haul out on the local rocks although they have occupied the rocks near the Parson Island light for some time. These rocks, on high tides, become submerged at which point the sea lions return to the ocean. Even though the local rocks on Hanson offer more permanent ground their habit of returning to the ocean on the high tide is the same. Even though they are across the Pass from the Lab right now their growls are clearly audible. Once on Hanson their growly complaints become much louder and very frequent. It is surprisingly comforting.

Naomi had her last full day at the Lab where she had been since June. She had been through the long wait for resident orcas to show up, learned quickly to identify Bigg’s orcas, delighted in watching exuberant dolphins and swam in the chilly waters daily. One of her best moments came when she swam at night through the bioluminescence. She said it was as if stars were floating past. Naomi also spent time looking at and comparing the presence of individual humpbacks over the past two years. We hope her journey back to Germany goes well and that the year to come is as fulfilling as her time here at the Lab has been.

The night became somewhat eventful with the sounds of dolphins off Cracroft Point just after 10pm. A distant humpback, perhaps in Blackfish Sound, moaned intermittently reminiscent of bubble net feeding calls though it was too distant to make out any subsequent bubble sounds.

And then midnight.

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