Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Southern Resident killer whale tagging of L95

Southern Resident killer whale tagging of L95

29 February update - As of our last update on 25 February L95 and some of L pod were just north of the Columbia River heading north. When we relocated them on Friday morning they were north of the Columbia River heading south. The whales were very spread out and visibility was low due to fog and drizzle, making keeping track of then challenging as they were not vocalizing. In the early afternoon they started calling again and we heard K pod calls and observed some K pod whales in the area with L pod. We continued to monitor the whales into the evening acoustically. However, Friday morning was the last transmission we received from L95s tag such that when the whales stopped vocalizing early on the morning of the 26th we lost track of them. When we saw L95 the day before we did not detect a tag attachment issue and he was resighted on the 27th. We were able to relocate Ks and Ls on the 27th, again just north of the Columbia River and stayed with them well into the night until they stopped vocalizing near Tillamook Head. Seas were rough that day so we could not conduct small boat work but we could observe them from the Shimada and besides documenting the presence of all 3 of the L pod calves born this past year we also witnessed another episode of multiple breaches by numerous whales over a period of about 30 minutes, very similar to a bout of breaching we observed on the 2015 cruise. High winds and seas curtailed our efforts to conduct a broad search for K and L pods on the 28th, and with the extended forecast calling for continued high swell and winds we headed north and as of the 29th we are near the entrance ot the Strait of Juan de Fuca searching for J pod

killer whale  

25 February - On the previous update posted on the 24th, L95 and likely most of L pod were off the Quinault Canyon on the evening of the 23rd, trending southeast. They continued south and we were with them most of the day on the 24 off the Grays Harbor area. The whales were extremely spread out such that we lost contact with them for a couple of hours due to reduced visibility and no vocalizing. By the afternoon we relocated them and were able to stay with them all night. This morning (the 25th) they were off the entrance to the Columbia River and after traveling a few miles south, they turned north and were just north of the shipping channel entering the Columbia River by this evening. Weather conditions in the afternoon were spectacular and we were able to conduct small boat operations with the whales.

25 February  

24 February - Research teams from the NWFSC, Cascadia Research Collective, and Biowaves Inc departed on Sunday 21 February aboard the NOAA vessel Bell M. Shimada from Newport, Oregon. We transited north to the area where the most recent signals from K33 had been obtained before the tag stopped transmitting on 17 February - between the Columbia River and Westport. After three sweeps through that area with no detections we headed up the Washington coast Monday night in the nearshore waters. As we neared LaPush this morning, with 25 knots of wind howling out of the east, we saw numerous small blows close to shore heading south. About an hour later we were able close on the whales and confirm that we were with members of L pod. The wind subsided about noon allowing us to launch our research boat from the Shimada. About 1400 we were able to deploy a tag on adult male L95 - (see attached photo). The whales have moved offshore this evening - near the head of the Quinault Canyon (see map). We are hoping for a tag attachment duration that allows us track L pod for the rest of the cruise to gain insights about not only their movements but also their behavior in their coastal winter range.

24 February