Deborah Giles and Mia Haney-Marshall posing on a boat.

J Pod

We started the day departing Snug harbor and heading up towards Point Roberts in the strait of Georgia responding to early whale sighting reports. When we arrived on scene we recognized the individuals we were seeing to be members of J Pod. There were about 25 whales spread throughout the Strait of Georgia in groups of two and three. We followed a few groups with Eba working to detect fecal scents. We followed J59 and her mother down through the Strait of Georgia for a while towards Stewart Island observing a few tail slaps. Towards the end of the day we positioned ahead of the main group as we were heading back to Snug Harbor and saw J16 rapidly traveling south.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena

Species

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Pods

J Pod

Matrilines

J11s, J14s, J16s, J17s, J19s, J22s

Research Activities

Fecal Collection

This work is made possible in part by a grant from
Rose Foundation

A Southern Resident killer whale beginning a dive.

J Pod

With an early morning notice that whales were on the west side of San Juan Island, the Wild Orca team departed Snug Harbor at 9:46 AM and headed down Haro Strait along the west side of San Juan Island. Whales were encountered just offshore of Hannah Heights at 10:15 in the morning.

With good wind, calm waters, the team was able to conduct distant lateral sampling behind and to the side of the whales’ path. With Eba’s keen nose, the research vessel is able to stay 300-1000 meters behind the whales which minimizes any potential disturbance.

In less than an hour the team located and collected the first sample of the day. Over the course of the next four hours Eba, Jim and Giles collected five additional samples. Many thanks to the Center for Whale Research drone team who notified us that one of the whales they were video documenting had defecated! We were able to make our way to that location and collect that valuable sample.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena

Species

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Pods

J Pod

Matrilines

J11s, J14s, J16s, J17s, J19s, J22s

Research Activities

Fecal Collection

This work is made possible in part by a grant from
Rose Foundation

Headshot of Jim Rappold.

J Pod

Southern Resident killer whales were spotted on the west side of San Juan Island in the morning rain. The Wild Orca research crew departed from Snug Harbor and headed south down Haro straight towards Hannah Heights where they encountered a group of four whales spread loosely and foraging in the rip current at Edwards point. The whales were socially active most of the day stopping to socialize and possibly forage several times between Lime Kiln Lighthouse and Stewart Island. One fecal sample was located at 2:15 about a mile offshore between Lime Kiln State Park and the San Juan County park. Similar to the sample collected on the 26th this sample was also quite small although while the first one was wispy this one was very sticky and both of them were green which was interesting.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena

Species

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Pods

J Pod

Matrilines

Research Activities

Fecal Collection

This work is made possible in part by a grant from
Rose Foundation

Dr. Deborah Giles at the hem of a research vessel with a scent detection dog.

J Pod

We received a report that members of J Pod were heading towards east point on Saturna Island heading towards boundary pass around noon. We arrived at Snug Harbor at 1pm and departed from the dock shortly after. We travelled north up Haro Strait and found the first of the whales as they were porpoising south around Turn Point on Stuart Island. The whales were spread across the whole strait from Sydney Island back to Battleship Island in pairs or alone. We tried to track them but the water were not favorable and the whales were porpoising away from us so we close to wait back at the dock until conditions improved.

At 3:45 we once again departed from Snug Harbor with the hope of intersecting with the last of the whales heading south. We encountered a mother and calf pair on the west side of Henry Island near the bird rookery. We trailed that pair for about 20 minutes as they were foraging. Because our focal group included the youngest calf, J59 and her mom J37, we increased our following distance to minimize any chance of interference. The tide was still flooding and we were positioned well north of the whales in a position that would be optimal for detecting fecal samples in the water. We ended our research voyage as the mother and calf pair ended their foraging bout and began traveling south at fast speed.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena

Species

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Pods

J Pod

Matrilines

J11s, J14s, J16s, J17s

Research Activities

Fecal Collection

This work is made possible in part by a grant from
Rose Foundation

A scent detection dog on a research vessel.

J Pod

The Wild Orca team departed Snug Harbor at 11:45am to meet up with J Pod members. We received word about the whales around 9:30am from the Center for Whale Research who were on their way out to take census ID photos, so we delayed our departure time a by 90 minutes to give them access to the whales in a collaborative effort to reduce the amount of vessels on scene with the endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

We encountered whales at 12 noon and they led us up Haro Strait and into Boundary Pass on the Canadian side of the border. We collected a very small fecal sample around 4 o’clock near Java Rocks. The sample was a very small wispy and diffused that took a lot of searching to be sure we found each wispy piece.

Research Vessel

R/V Cheena

Species

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Pods

J Pod

Matrilines

J11s, J14s, J16s, J17s

Research Activities

Fecal Collection

This work is made possible in part by a grant from
Rose Foundation