Fall in Johnstone Strait

By Megan Baker

In BC, you know it’s Fall when the rain arrives. And here in Johnstone Strait, you know the seasons are starting to turn when the sea lions have returned from their summer breeding rookeries and are feasting on chum salmon.

Straitwatch North has wrapped up another fantastic season on the water! Our last weekend saw the northern resident killer whales the A30s, A12 and the A36 boys, along with humpbacks trumpeting and feeding on herring balls. Queen Charlotte Strait was like glass with a beautiful Payne’s grey sky – that dark bluish-grey that definitely says Fall.

Paynes Grey with the Gikumi

It was a different pace to July and August, when the sun was shining and we had very busy days approaching boats on the water, educating boaters and kayakers about the Be Whale Wise guidelines. On land, we celebrated the whales and the ocean at Sea Fest in Alert Bay, Salmon Days in Sointula and Filomi Days in Port Hardy.

But while it may be much quieter in terms of boat traffic, marine life is still busy up here. On September 19th, Marie (the Robson Bight Warden Program Coordinator) spotted two fin whales heading east past Cracroft Point. This was huge!! And so were the whales.

A rare fin whale in the Strait. Photo courtesy of Jared Towers

Fin whales can reach up to 27m long and it was especially exciting because it was the first time that fin whales have been seen in the Robson Bight area.

Even more recently, the T2Cs (transient killer whales) entered the Strait with a very new, very small baby – so new that he or she is still orange! Killer whale calves have a pale orange hue when born, which normally fades to white within a year.

We couldn’t have had such a great season without our awesome volunteers: Judy Cadrin, Karen Marzocco, Robin Quirk, Judit Torres, Taina Uitto, Brian McMorrow (who heroically jumped in front of Megan when a bear crossed their path while doing dock talks in Telegraph Cove) and our summer student Brittany Cook, who were all data-recording, photograph-taking superstars.

Straitwatch volunteer, Karen Marzocco

If you want to be whale wise over the winter, become a member of Cetus Research & Conservation Society!

http://cetussociety.org/membership/membership-levels/

Links:

Times Colonist – Judith Lavoie fin whale article

http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Rare+whales+surface+Robson+Bight/5434759/story.html

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