some observations

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Tony, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. Tony

    Tony Left handed Gemini.

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    Yesterday It seems like alot of you westsiders were over on the pennisula during the day, I counted at least 9 guys on board the ferry, and possibly the most people I've ever seen fishing off of southworth at one time, I talked to one group on board and the reports were not all that great, thats too bad wish things had of been better. Orca, I've been seeing a pod of orca off of southworth point once a week for the last month or so, midday, always southbound sometimes it seems (last week) like they are feeding, possibly on resident blackmouth? not sure, saw 5 whales last week and they seemed to be diving down fairly deep, and stayed right off the point for about 15 minutes. Today I saw 7 whales headed south about 1300 down colvos passage traveling fairly fast not in a hurry but not hanging around like the week before. This is the most sightings I've had over the last 5 years and its really cool, I'm guessing the whales must be finding food or they wouldn't be around so there must be salmon but I also would guess that its going to raise hell with the resident blackmouth fishery, too bad for man, hurrah for the orca.
    tony
     
  2. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    Interesting observations, Tony. Could these possibly be a group of transient killer whales? I thought (could be wrong) that our fish-eating Orcas (aka, the residents) head out to the open ocean in the winter, ranging as far south as San Francisco in search of a winter meal. Transients - marine mammal predators, have been observed to take up residence in the sound (and Hood Canal) especially in the winter to thin out the local harbor seal and other marine mammal population. You can't easily tell a transient killer whale from a resident killer whale; there are some subtle differences in markings. Frankly, they should be designated as two separate species. [On a side note. One wonders if the higher estimates for resident killer whale populations in the 60's (used as the baseline for establishing pre-capture numbers by NOAA) includes both killer and transient killer whales. If the numbers are combined, then the current baseline numbers are inflated and the designation of the resident killer whales as endangered is incorrect.]

    Steve
     
  3. lx-88

    lx-88 Member

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    These are probably the Southern Residents (SRKW) (ESA listed). While rare in the winter they do show up on occasion. Apparently some SRKWs showed up in Elliott Bay earlier in February, a very very rare occurrence. Please post your sighting to the Orca Network as this information is extremely valuable to the scientific community and environmental management folks that deal with marine mammals. Be as specific with the location as you can and describe the behavior. Marine Mammals are becoming a big deal with in-water construction and other permit activities in the PNW.

    SRKW (listed) and Transients (non-listed) are considered different Distinct Population Segments (ESA terms), effectively two different species in ESA that behave differently and don't interact much. As for considering them together or separate for ESA baselines, that science is pretty sound and based on genetics and behavior. Originally, NMFS determined that they did not qualify as endangered when the whole worldwide species is considered. There was a petition to list them and it was argued that SRKWs were a DPS and destinct based on diet and behavior. The behavior part is key. The other big deal is we have no idea where they are at any given time or what they do in the winter for the most part because fewer whale watching boats are out. The Orca network is the best available information for where/when they are in a given spot. I personally think we should put radio tracking tags on them, preferably with a hydrophone.

    Sorry for the rambling, somewhat off topic post. It's late. Point is, post your sighting.

    Here's the recovery plan if you're interested:
    http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/recovery/whale_killer.pdf

    Here's the chronology:
    http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/orca-chron.cfm

    FYI: I'm not arguing that they should be protected under ESA or not, claiming to be an expert, or start an argument. it's just an interesting topic that I have some experience with and had some quick information at hand.

     

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