Published: December 21st, 2013 at 11:51 pm ET
Vancouver Sun, Dec;. 20, 2013: Surprise surge in orcas and humpback whales in Island waters[...] Record numbers of transient orcas and humpbacks [...] Someone forgot to tell the whales around Victoria and the San Juan Islands that this is their off-season. [...] They usually travel south to warmer waters [...] [Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA)] said the jump in whale numbers is not necessarily a positive sign. [...] Problems in the ocean could be leading the other whales here instead of elsewhere, Harris said [...] Ocean acidification, the effects of climate change and the greatly depleted Fraser Run salmon run could be influencing whale activity, Harris said.
Michael Harris, executive director of the PWWA, Dec. 20, 2013: “It just means that conditions are different and that we happen to have a spike in harbour seals this year [...] It just shows us we’ve got to do something if we’re getting these unusual conditions and unusual sightings. It means that something’s amiss out there.”
San Juan Islander, Dec. 20, 2013: San Juan Island whale watch operators are also reporting unprecedented activity recently [...] [PWWA] crews say this fall and winter has been unlike anything recorded in the 20-year history of the Association. On November 8th, Prince of Whales Captain Mark Malleson came across the G2 and G27 matrilines of the Northern Resident Community of orcas foraging east of Race Rocks near Victoria, escorted by a group of Pacific white-sided dolphins. It was the first sighting of Northern orcas in this part of the Salish Sea in 13 years. Most exciting was a confirmed sighting off Victoria of one of the most endangered whales in the world – the north Pacific right whale, the first right whale seen here in over 62 years. [...] PWWA crews report [humpback whale] behaviors never seen in these waters, from mothers bringing their calves into the Sound and Straits, to males singing, something this population was thought to almost exclusively do in their mating grounds in Hawai’i.
Capt. Hobbes Buchanan of San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours, Dec. 20, 2013: “It’s been whale soup out there the last couple of weeks [...] We had some 20-plus transient orcas in San Juan Channel at Pt. Caution last week, and they went right into the entrance to Friday Harbor [...] we’ve also got some resident [whales] still in, humpbacks hanging out here and there, seals, harbor porpoises, Dall’s porpoises, Steller sea lions, eagles, tons of seabirds.”
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