New hydrophones monitor ship noise in Salish Sea – Canadian Press

More good research. Monitoring at all levels is the most critical element in securing future funding for environmental projects, and validating ones that have been done. It has been the neglected part of all funding over the decades, and glad to see another good outpost established.

Researchers have installed another underwater listening station in British Columbia’s Salish Sea to better understand how shipping noise impacts at-risk whales. The installation Monday was part of a program run by Port Metro Vancouver, the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada and the hydrophone’s manufacturer. Underwater noise has been identified as a threat to orcas that make their home in the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland and are listed as at risk by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.(Canadian Press)

Patrols keep US boaters in line, protect killer whales- AP

It’s been long overdue. Nice to see that the Feds are finally putting money into enforcement of the protection zone, rather than sitting back and hoping for good behavior. I would agree with the assessment that it’s likely recreational boaters (think of charters coming from all over) rather than locals or the whale watching industry. I’ve met a lot of whale watching businesspeople and they are smart enough to know that crowding the whales can lead to them losing their businesses.

Against a backdrop of rocky bluffs, a pod of orcas jumped out of the emerald waters of the Puget Sound before splashing their massive black-and-white bodies back into the water. Shadowing the whales on a recent afternoon were several recreational and commercial whale-watching boats that ferry people out to watch the orcas breach, one of nature’s most impressive spectacles. But the combination of boats and whales has state and federal authorities worried now that the Southern Resident pod of killer whales has four new calves. Manuel Valdes reports. (Associated Press)

Resident Orca count at 81. Good news – Seattle Times and others

Official orca census: 81 whales, including 4 babies. Up from 78 .

Researchers tracking the southern resident killer whales have photo confirmation of each whale, said Ken Balcomb, a senior scientist with the Center for Whale Research.

Orca census shows increase in Southern Resident population -Watching Our Waterways

Some good news it seems, though preliminary.

A census of the killer whales that frequent Puget Sound is due today, and it appears that the total population of the three Southern Resident pods is 82, up from 79 last year at this time. But that’s not the end of the story, because two small groups of orcas have not been seen recently — so a final count must wait, according to Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research, which conducts the annual census. Chris Dunagan reports.

Update: Newborn joins J-pod; mother may be missing – San Juan Journal

News on the new birth of a calf is tempered by sobering data that it may not make it. A true life animal drama happening right in front of us.

…While studying the photos of the calf it appeared to [Ken] Balcomb and his team that newborn J-50 had teeth marks on its dorsal fin, which could indicate a difficult birth, where another whale had to use its mouth to help pull the baby out of its mother’s uterus…. Perhaps the most important missing link to the story is J-36, the 16-year-old daughter of J-16, who wasn’t seen when the baby was discovered amidst the clan. Under normal circumstances, J-36 would be traveling with or near her family. Having strung all the pieces together, Balcomb speculates that J-36, who is of prime breeding age, is the mother of J-50, and could have died during a complicated birth–meaning that J-16 is the calf’s grandmother and will not be able to provide milk. “Worst case scenario is we have another example where a female died giving birth,” Balcomb said. “Best case  is that grandma (J-16) is mom, and J-36 missing is coincidence.” Emily Greenberg reports. (San Juan Journal)

Push for ‘No Go’ zone revitalized in attempt to limit stress on whales -San Juan Journal

Probably going to happen, but unlikely it’s going to have much affect. The need for more chinook is likely to be more useful. Not even NOAA could point to any science saying this is a successful strategy, but it’s a popular one among some people. Some of them are wealthy shoreline land owners on San Juan Island who want the boats out of the backyard.

In the wake of the death of J32, a pregnant female of the Southern Resident orca whales, a call to action resurfaced last week for a “No-Go” whale protection zone off the westside of San Juan Island. Orca Relief Citizens Alliance is urging the National Marine Fisheries Service to adopt its outline and begin the formal public process of establishing a no-go zone. Emily Greenberg reports. (San Juan Journal)

Orca necropsy shows fetus died first: report – Times Colonist

It appears that the fetus died first and may have caused the death of the mother. Still no firm understanding if the fetus was impacted by environmental issues, or whether it was a natural death.


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