Archive for April 1st, 2008

Spring program starts & ORCACAM is up

I had a fine time transporting the five intrepid Beam Reach students up to the San Juans yesterday. Tracy and I agreed that it is a real treat to get out of Seattle to visit the beautiful archipelago and the peaceful pines of the Friday Harbor Labs campus. It’s exciting to get the first spring program started!

We spent the first morning of class together. We started with an orientation at the Friday Harbor Labs. Then we grabbed some box lunches kindly assembled by the FHL dining hall staff and headed west. We got a nice overview of Haro Strait all the way to Victoria and the snowy Olympic Mountains at Sharon Grace’s observation deck. Then we headed up the coast to Lime Kiln to generate 21 burning questions and discuss a few of them. It was chilly, but intermittent sun and scintillating ideas kept us reasonably comfortable. Next time I’ll turn that heater on while the questions are getting thought up!

After lunch in the light house, Tracy and I ran for the ferry and the students returned to the Labs with Jason and Val to go over the syllabus and get further oriented to the labs. We enjoyed seeing some harbor porpoises, a bald eagle, and a river otter, but were all a little disappointed that J pod didn’t show up.

The disappointment dissipated rapidly today when I heard (through Susan, JB, and some combination of Sandy Buckley, Jeanne Hyde, and Ivan) that J pod was in Haro Strait! Thanks to further guidance from Jeanne, the class made it over to Landbank in time to observe the J16s. As the afternoon progressed, there were some great calls heard, first at Lime Kiln, then at OrcaSound.

The coup was that those of us in Seattle got to participate virtually in an enhanced way. The Center for Whale Research had *just* gotten a new web camera installed and streaming. With a little practice, it proved wonderful fun to watch the whales and boats go by while listening to the OrcaSound hydrophone located a few hundred meters to the north. If you’d like to try it, here are the relevant links:

The camera has a 25x optical zoom, as well as pan/tilt controls. It even lets you snap stills like this one…A snapshot from the ORCACAM

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