Close Encounter of the Whale Kind

Lara from Germany was my assistant this week. She is studying biology in school and also loves the whales.

Lara taking photos
Lara taking photos

We had an amazing experience on Aug 24th when we had the i15′s – Northern Resident Orcas come very close. On Aug 24th they passed CP heading West… one whale turned around and came right up to the deck – it was high tide. He looked at me and stayed in the same spot for a little while looking up. This whale came in so close to where I was… I had to say hi to him… “Hi whalie”, you are so beautiful. The i15′s on Aug 24th on the Johnstone Strait.

underwater looking up at me
underwater looking up at me
I see you
I see you
Eye to Eye
Eye to Eye
Heading back West to join his pod
Heading back West to join his pod
A screen shot from Lara's short video clip, i15's continue heading West
A screen shot from Lara’s short video clip, i15′s continue heading West

See a video that I shot of the whale saying hello…

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I have been enjoying editing photos and video clips at my little editing station in the hut- Lara took this photo of me…

my editing station in the hut
my editing station in the hut

Last night we had some lovely clouds… Aug 25th…

Soft clouds on Aug 25th
Soft clouds on Aug 25th

A Lightning Storm to Remember, Good Friends & Orca Whales Doing What They Do

This week I was lucky and thankful to have Phinn at the hut as my assistant. Phinn is from England, he is studying marine biology in Maine and has a lot of knowledge  of the southern resident orcas in the San Juan Islands and Friday Harbour area. He is a positive guy and is quite an artist. If I am ever feeling down he always puts a smile on my face. One evening we decided to test out Phinn’s camera on the tripod. We took a couple of funny photos…

Phinn and Nat Aug 16th
Phinn and Nat Aug 16th
Phinn and Nat Aug 16th
Phinn and Nat Aug 16th

A photo of Phinn as he was making a beautiful wood carving out of a piece of drift-wood that he found…

Phinn carving his piece of art - Aug 14th
Phinn carving his piece of art – Aug 14th
Phinn's carving - almost done!
Phinn’s carving – almost done!

On August 17th we witnessed one of the saddest things I have ever seen. The resident orcas were chasing after a humpback whale.  It was later ID’d to be resident orcas- A23′s and humpback KC of the northern humpbacks of the johnstone strait area… have a look at the video…

[vimeo 47759569 w=500 h=281]

Orca whales chasing down a humpback on August 17, 2012 from Natalie Lucier on Vimeo.

Living in the hut has had its challenges. Some days I feel like I wish I could fly away and have a hot shower and give my family and friends a big hug… and some days I just love being here. Yesterday was one of those days where I wanted to be anywhere else but here… waking up in the wet and cold weather and feeling homesick and sad… I reluctantly started my day… by late afternoon… the clouds covered the area and we could hear thunder in the distance… and then the lightning came and lit up the sky. I was amazed. I stood and watched and decided to film it. I was lucky to capture a moment in time when the lightning hit the land. It was a strong and fierce thunder storm that hammered the Johnstone Strait… reminding me how powerful mother earth can be.

Lightning on August 17th on the Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada
Lightning on August 17th on the Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada

After the storm had settled… the sunset was calm and beautiful…

pinky,purple, orange sunset last night - August 18th
pinky,purple, orange sunset last night – August 18th

Rainbows & Clouds + Yoga & Whales

At the beginning of August we had a full moon. I’m not sure of the exact day but this was the night before the complete full moon. The moon was bright and shining strong lighting up the mountains as a beautiful silhouette landscape.

The beautiful moon
The beautiful moon

It was a dreamy morning on Aug 2nd 2012. As the sun peeked through the clouds, a rainbow appeared and a beautiful sailboat came by. It was a quiet day on the water and this was a special moment.

Aug 2, 2012 on the Johnstone Strait, BC Canada
Aug 2, 2012 on the Johnstone Strait, BC Canada

On August 5th, I was lucky enough to witness 4 transient whales hunting dolls porpoise. They were splashing and porpoising straight out of the water! Transient dorsal fins have sharper points and more triangular look to them. I shot some video of the spectacular hunt that took place at the entrance to Blackney Pass, although the whales were mid-pass and pretty far, I could still make out the whales splashing and porpoising out of the water! About an hour or so after the hunt…the transients came passed CP (the hut) around sunset. I shot video of them as they passed by…
[vimeo 47115269 w=500 h=281]

transients-aug5th from Natalie Lucier on Vimeo.

See a photo of the transients:

Transients Aug 5th 2012
Transients Aug 5th 2012

Leah took a photo of me on the deck of the hut at CP –  just after I shot video of the transients on Aug 5th.

Natalie on Aug 5th
Natalie on Aug 5th

On August 6th – I was lucky enough to get a HOT Shower on Hanson Island! I felt clean and balanced on Aug 6th. Kristen took a photo of me.

Natalie doing yoga on the deck - Aug 6th
Natalie doing yoga on the deck – Aug 6th

I took a photo of Kristen as she was doing yoga to the sunset on Aug 7th.

Kristen doing yoga to the sunset - Aug 7th
Kristen doing yoga to the sunset – Aug 7th

Humpback whales have been making an appearance quite often as well. This photo was taken on Aug 8th.

Humpback taking a breath, Aug 8th
Humpback taking a breath, Aug 8th

We also enjoyed a lovely sunset last night, Aug 10th

Sunset Aug 10th
Sunset Aug 10th
Dreamtime clouds- August 2012 - Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada
Dreamtime clouds- August 2012 – Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada

Families are Forever… Breaching, Tail slapping, Spy-hopping, Happy Whales

As the summer moves on…my days have started when the sun rises and ends after the sun has gone to sleep…

I have been keeping my eyes and ears open for orca whales in the Johnstone Strait, tracking their behaviour and direction of movement. August 1st was a very special day on the Strait. I had been thinking about how I had gotten to see some pods and amazing orcas up close and I had gotten some video but it seemed to me… whenever they came by the hut (I am living in on the Strait)… they broke up and spread out along the strait… and I had not yet been able to capture them together as a pod… well yesterday was my day of glory! The A30′s travelling tight together out of Blackney Pass headed East stayed close together while travelling. I was able to capture most of the A30′s tight together as a family unit. (not all of them) but a good number together. Orca whales stick with their mothers for their entire life…. they mate with other pod members but live, play, hunt and travel with their mother and her offspring for life.

A Family photo. Orcas - A30's sticking together on the Johnstone Strait, Aug 1 2012. 1pm.
A Family photo. Orcas – A30′s sticking together on the Johnstone Strait, Aug 1 2012. 1pm.

We had a whirl-wind of pods colliding and reuniting here on the Johnstone. A superpod of R4s, A30s, I15s and the A36s identified so far… ;) The whales were very playful, grunting squealing and blowing like crazy…They were breaching, flailing about all over each other, spyhopping and tail slapping… We heard some really funny noises out there! It was like a dream to watch this and for most of the time… there were no boats in the water… it was just the whales themselves.

I was filming when I saw a whale jump straight out of the water and big splash! An Orca BREACHING! I managed to capture it on camera… (I will post video below…)

When Krissi (another OrcaLab assistant from Germany) and I were watching the whales frolicking about… in amazement with whale envy, we heard a gigantic CRASH!!!! And then looked to the right side of the hut and saw a humpback has just breached about 100meters away! As quickly as I could, I turned the video camera on the splash and waited… as I kept the video camera on the humpback… I saw my battery in the camera flashing…. battery… battery power getting low…. The humpback came up and tail slapped and rolled around backwards…. I jumped up keeping the camera rolling on the whale… and went to grab a new battery… in the 30 seconds I had left to get a new battery the humpback had BREACHED AGAIN!!!! I had kept the camera rolling in record mode… and when I returned, all I could see was another BIG Splashhh!!!! I couldn’t believe.it. Krissi said “You just missed it again”!!!!!!. I was jaw dropped looking at the splash and the video camera screen still said “Recording”!!!!! The battery had not yet died… I looked at Krissi and said “I think I got it on video”!!!!!!! And to my amazement… I did.

Here is a clip of the orca & humpback breaching. August 1, 2012 on the Johnstone Strait.

[vimeo 46795675 w=500 h=281]

Orca & Humpback Breaching Aug 1, 2012 – Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada from Natalie Lucier on Vimeo.