Archive for May 13th, 2011

Humpback Whales!

Throughout our travels in the San Juans, we passed an island called Spiden. Todd said Spiden is unique because it originally belonged to two brothers who were taxidermists. They  liked to hunt and stocked the island with all sorts of exotic deer. When we went by on our way to Patos Island, we were able to see a few of them. Todd told me that sometimes the deer swim to different islands and occasionally one will see a set of antlers making its way across the water.

Last week we  had a confirmed report that the elusive J-Pod came in through Discovery Island and had gone up Swanson Cannel into Canada. Normally, when they come to the islands, they go up Swanson Channel and down Boundary Pass or Presidents Channel. Taking the strategic approach, we decided to camp out near Patos Island where we would be at the fork of the two channels (see map). This way, we could be close and listen for them when they came back down. To ensure that they didn’t slip by us overnight, we did an anchor watch. For the anchor watch,  we all took turns listening to the hydrophones overnight. My shift was from 12-1:30am. I unfortunately didn’t hear anything and neither did anyone else. As a result, we were up bright and early the next morning watching and waiting for J-Pod to hopefully come back down.  Oddly enough, these tricky killer whales went back down the way they came in and we missed them all together. Oh nature.  On the brighter side, Patos Island was amazing. It was very secluded and there were only two mooring buoys where we stayed. After dinner we went on a hike to the lighthouse where we watched the most beautiful sunset yet.

On Mother’s Day we saw humpbacks! We spotted them early in the morning and had them all to ourselves. We arrived at the perfect time. When we found them they were very playful, breaching and peck slapping, all right in front of us!  They are massive creatures. A humpback whale can reach lengths of 48-63 feet and weigh up to 40 tons! There’s also a picture of us in Jeanie’s blog, here. We spent about an hour and half with them before we moved on to Salmon Bank to get plankton samples.

Photo by Carlos Sanchez

We also spent one day down on south Lopez looking at fish populations. To assess the fish, we photographed sea birds and looked at what types of fish were in their  beaks. This is difficult because the birds like to swallow the fish immediately.  Luckily, Carols with his awesome photo skills, was able to capture a picture of a seagull with a sand lance in its mouth which was the fish that Kelsey was looking for to support her project. It was a successful day overall.

Cormorant, photo by Carlos Sanchez

Seagull with sand lance photo by Carlos Sanchez

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Through The Eye Of The Wind

Video of Gato Verde’s captain, Todd Shuster, teaching Beam Reach students how to sail on the Salish Sea.

Through The Eye Of The Wind

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