Monday, October 10, 2005
Beam Reach Journal
Sunday October 2
12:28 Aboard the Anacortes ferry on route to Friday Harbour to mentor acoustic studies and acquire ambient sound files. Ten of us spend the night aboard Gato Verde a 42-foot Cutter Catamaran and set sail in the morning.
Monday October 3 - Photos1 Photos2 Photos3
10:30 Depart Friday Harbor bound westside of San Juan Island. We travel down San Juan Island Channel with the ebb tide. Around Cattle Point at noon we meet up with J, K, and L pods, southern resident killer whales, Orcinus orca. They are heading southwest toward Hein Bank spread out in small groups foraging. We cut the engines and deploy the hydrophones. We record them using echolocation and making tonal calls. The calls eventually increased in number and repetitiveness. The killer whales turned back northeast toward San Juan Island. We moved back toward the island and practice sailing techniques. J1, Ruffles the oldest male in the community passes in the sunset. I noticed a cetacean footprint to our starboard side. It was small and looked like a Dall’s porpoise. Since they are attracted to boats travelling at this speed, in the spring and fall seasons, I went to the bow and noticed white patches just below the blue-green surface. We lay down in the cat’s mesh netting between hulls as they Bowride. One of them looked like a hybrid. It was big and the same shape as the others but was coloured like a Harbour porpoise.
Tuesday October 4
10:30 Depart Mitchell Bay, Sung Cove, and sail for a couple hours past Lime Kiln. The whales were all together again heading south off False Bay. We recorded beautiful calls and then the whales eventually turned back toward San Juan Island. The whales became sociable and about a dozen whales grouped up in the reserve and made some incredible surface sounds. They faced another group and headed toward them in a line. Both groups of whales slowly travelled toward each other. They met up and drove below the surface. The acoustic then just went off as the two groups increased their vocalizations. After about 15min the two groups separated and one went north and the other south.
Wednesday October 5 - Photos
07:45 Depart Roche Harbor bound for False Bay. There were no whales there so I made some ambient recordings of the area with fishing, shipping, and no boats tracks while we discussed logistics. As the day progressed whale reports came in with residents off Point Roberts, transients north of Orcas Island, and a humpback south of Race Rocks. As it was late in the day we decided to drop anchor around Cattle Point in Fish Creek, south of Griffin Bay. There were Seller sea lions in Salmon Bank and one harbour seal with a salmon in its mouth. While at anchor we took some recordings of Gato Verde at different distances while the Oyster Catchers watched nearby.
Thursday October 6 - Photos
10:30 Depart Fish Creek and travel around Cattle Point toward False Bay. The L12’s were foraging and L85, a sprouting male named Mystery, came nearby and made some very clear calls and echolocation clicks. We then moved south toward Iceberg Point, Lopez Island, as the other southern residents were travelling south down Rosario Strait. I noticed how the calls there were sounding like Luna and then L67, Splash, Luna’s mother and little brother L101 past by.
Friday October 7 - Photos
09:00 Depart Mackaye Harbor, Lopez Island, and sail wing on wing north to Friday Harbor for supplies. We pass by Goose Island in San Juan island Channel and see Steller sea lions and many seals. After leaving Friday Harbor we again head further north to Sucia Island for the night. We find a spot on the dock in Fossil bay and go ashore for a walk. It is almost twilight and the beautiful Arbutus tree lined bays illuminate the moon’s crescent shape.
Saturday October 8
07:30 Depart Fossil Bay, head into Boundary Passage to conduct localization experiments. Reports of whales off Turn point so we head through Johns Pass and saw an amazing First Nations long house and totem pole. All three pods were spread out from Henry Island to Kelp Reef travelling south. A group was foraging off Kellett Bluff were with Dall’s porpoises that were rooster tailing. Other whales fed along the tide line and sea gulls were diving for scraps overhead.
Sunday October 9
09:30 Depart Friday Harbor aboard the ferry bound for Sidney, BC, escorted by the US Coast Guard up San Juan Channel. At Green Point in Spieden Channel a Seller seal lion was feeding. Out in Haro Strait over a dozen Dall’s porpoises were darting back and forth after fish.