Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ways of the Whales Workshop - January 28

The annual Ways of the Whales Workshop sponsored by Orca Network is scheduled for January 28 at Camp Casey on Whidbey Island. For more information and to register:

Harbor Porpoises Returning to San Francisco Bay

After an absence of 60 years, Harbor porpoises are returning to San Francisco Bay. They left largely due to pollution from heavy industrial activity during WWII and after. But in the 1970s as a result of the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Bay was cleaned up.

Gray Whale Migration is On

This is an excellent article on the gray whale migration south from the Arctic region. Apparently, it was a very good feeding summer as the whales appear to be fat and in good condition. NOAA plans to conduct aerial surveys to identify pregnant females.

New Zealand Orca Attacks Sharks

On December 27 a male orca was seen attacking sharks in the surf off New Zealand. Local people videoed the event.

It is believed there were other orcas present but they were herding fish into the shallows. One shark beached itself to get away, but then was harassed by a dog! Apparently, the shark attacks went on for a couple of hours.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"The Whale" Movie Is Gaining Momentum

A recent update from Suzanne Chisolm and Michael Parfit, producers of "The Whale," the story of L-pod orphan Luna, indicates that the movie (already shown in a lot of major US cities,) is gradually spreading out to smaller cities and towns. Check out their website for info on how you can help spread the word. Hopefully the DVD will be released sometime in 2012.

A Nice Christmas Present - New J-Pod Calf!

December 17 was the first sighting of J-48, a new calf born to J-19, Slick. It is estimated that the calf, seen in Puget Sound the morning of the 17th with fetal folds still visible, was probably just a few hours old. This is Slick's fifth calf since her first (J-26) was born in 1991. It will be interesting to find out (hopefully,) who's the baby's father.

Creosote Log Removal Project Very Successful!

The removal of creosote logs from Lopez beaches this fall (reported here in October,) was a very successful project! Three and a half miles of beachfront were cleaned up, including Fisherman Bay Preserve, Weeks Wetland, and Odlin Park, with over 65 tons of logs left the island. Kudos to Tim Clark, Land Bank manager, Lisa Kaufman of DNR and her group of volunteers for a job well done.

Celebration of Successful Indian Island Season

On Friday, November 18, Beach Watchers, Kwiaht and Orcas High School students gathered at the Eastsound Community Center to share with the community the results of their 3rd season of research and monitoring activities. About 120 people participated in the evening's activities, more than double the number who attended last year. Guests circulated around the room viewing various exhibits explaining what Indian Island Marine Health Observatory volunteers have been learning. Hands-on activities included identifying microscopic plankton samples, learn more about why micro-plastics are a serious problem on Eastsound's beaches, and watching experiments on how salt water and fresh react to each other. During the evening's program, student and adult volunteers were recognized, and Russel Barsh presented a slide show showing how the summer research is carried out and some of the more interesting findings. One of the season's highlights was the successful fledging of three oystercatcher chicks! Volunteers have helped to protect the parents' nest for two seasons now. One chick survived last year, and now three! Music and delicious food rounded out the evening. Among the Orcas Beach Watcher volunteers who organized and participated in the evening were: Sheldon Gregory, Marcia Spees, Nancy Alboucq, Kim Secunda, Rusty Diggs, Ron Kinner, Margo Shaw (with apologies to anyone we've forgotten to mention!) Here are a few photos:

Friday, December 9, 2011

As a Citizen Scientist You Can Learn to Recognize Whale Calls and Be A Part of The Whale Song Project

Listen to Whale FM and learn how to recognize whale calls and be a part of The Whale Song Project., which is sponsored by Scientific American.

Click on is one of several projects using crowd-sourcing to work through huge datasets where human senses are better than computers at picking out patterns. It is run by Zooniverse, a developer of citizen science projects that started in 2007. With the data collected, scientists hope to research whether the killer whales and pilot whales have specific dialects within family groups. They may also get some insight into how commercial shipping, oil drilling and other noisy ocean activities are affecting whale life.

Happy listening and learning.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

No Limit to Killing Endangered Sea Lions in New Zealand

Unfortunately, New Zealand sea lions like squid, but so do people. So guess who loses this battle? The sea lions are a bykill of the nets used to catch the squid. Read the story at:

Puget Sound Science Review Website

This is a new site you should all have bookmarked. The Puget Sound Science Review is a publication of the Puget Sound Institute at the University of Washington, and is founded as part of a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Puget Sound Partnership. Here is the link: