Archive for March, 2011

Inside the nostrils of a Humpback Whale

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Nostrils of a Humpback whale by R. Daley March 2011 off Kona HI

This photo was just sent in to me by a friend who was vacationing in Kona Hawaii.

WOW. Have you ever looked into the nostrils of a Humpback? I have not.

Big thanks to RD.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

March 27, 2011

The first charter of the season

Today was the first official charter of the 2011 season!  Captain Mike Kramer along with naturalists Colleen, Laura, and Mike took 22 brave passengers out in the cool temperatures and overcast skies.The group arrived from Seattle in style on the Kenmore Air Whale-Plane around 10am and we got underway shortly after.  As we headed out of Friday Harbor the passengers bundled up in warm jackets and blankets and kept their eyes on the water for wildlife.

We encountered a couple shy Harbor Porpoise just off the west side of Yellow Island in the middle of San Juan channel in the first 20 minutes of the trip.  We also found dozens of Bald Eagles and a few Harbor Seals both hauled out and bobbing in the water.

Speiden Island was teeming with Mouflan Sheep which were a treat for the group.  And Stewart Island revealed one of the most exciting finds of the day, a Peregrine Falcon!

Even though it was a little chilly and wet everyone had a great time searching for all kinds of wildlife.  It was a great start to the season, and we are all excited to start running regular trips in the next two weeks.  We hope to see you out here soon!  And be sure to check back for more sighting updates as we await our first Orcas of the season!
Naturalist Mike Oster

Sleepy Harbor Seal by Herb

Sleepy Harbor Seal by Herb

Linking killer whale survival and prey abundance: food limitation in the oceans

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Linking killer whale survival and prey abundance: food limitation in the oceans

This study came out by John K. B. Ford, Graeme M. Ellis, Peter F. Olesiuk and Kenneth C. Balcomb, all highly esteemed whale scientists.

Here is an except:  Resident killer whales are primarily salmonid predators that show strong selectivity for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), probably because of this species’ comparatively large size, high lipid content, and year-round availability in the whales’ coastal habitat (Ford & Ellis 2006). Migrating chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), the second largest of the Pacific salmonids, are important prey during autumn although Chinook are targeted preferentially when available. The smaller but seasonally abundant sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) and pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), and some demersal fishes such as lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) and Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), are consumed by resident killer whales but there is no evidence that these species comprise an important component of their diet.

To read the entire study, click on the link below for a pdf of how Chinook Salmon and Souther Resident Killer Whales are linked.

Southern Resident Killer Whales. Photo courtesy of NOAA/NMFS