Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013: L90 Ballena

365 Project, Day 110
Here is my day 110 submission to my 365Project:

Even though I only work occasionally in whale watching in Victoria, I still have many friends working in the industry...which is a good thing for getting out for boat rides when I'm not looking for whales and dolphins offshore and overseas :) This afternoon I went out on King Salmon, Great Pacific Adventures' larger cruising boat. It was good timing to get on the water, especially for this time of year when the weather worsens and things tend to get quieter, because both 'Resident' fish eating killer whales (Orcinus orca) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae) were around. 

After departing the Victoria Harbour we drove south past Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and then along the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the waters just south of Sooke. We arrived just in time to catch up with the stragglers of the Resident killer whales as they were making their way out west towards the open Pacific Ocean. Although we saw a small group inshore of us we spent most of the brief (but quality) time we had with L90 Ballena a 20 year old female resident killer whale.

L90 Ballena surfacing 
Note: these photos were taken under local whale watch guidelines using a zoom lens and then cropped in.

Interesting fact of the day:
In September 2011 the Centre For Whale Research received multiple reports that L90 was struck by a passing private recreational vessel. Upon hearing this news the staff immediately went out on the water to check on her status. Fortunately, although she was doing very short dives and traveling quite slowly behind the rest of the pod they could see no evidence that she'd been struck by a vessel. Although it was not obvious she was struck there was something troubling about her behaviour.

L90 has been of concern to researchers for a while now. She was always one of my favorite whales as  she is a bit of an underdog often overlooked by both those of us doing the research and those in the whale watching community. She is small for a female whale her age and has an unusual body condition of which we are unsure might indicate illness. Obviously she is still around today, 2 years after this incident, but researchers continue to keep an eye on her. 

To read more on the story of this suspected vessel strike check out these webpages:

  • The Centre For Whale Research's account of L90s Alleged Vessel Strike 
  • This Huffington Post article
  • To see L90 and the rest of the members of her pod in clear photo ID photos check out the Centre For Whale Research L pod ID webpageYou can also become a member and support the fabulous research they have been conducting on this Endangered population since the '70s :)

L90s distinct saddle patch - these are markings researchers use to identify individual killer whales

Race Rocks Ecological Reserve in the October fog

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeagliae)

If you read my previous post from October 19th you might notice this is the same individual humpback whale, still hanging out near Race Rocks, we observed that day 
Hint...look at the white patches but also notice the dark spot in the white on the left side of the whales fluke

More Steller sea lion (Eumatopia jubatus) action!

Wouldn't want to mess with one of these guys...check out those teeth! Basically they're like bears in the water

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