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.

Tail Slaps & Breaches! This is Heaven on Earth

Yesterday (July 29 2012 ) was a day to remember! I sighted my first spyhopping Orca whale! An adult spy-hopped and all I could see was white! It was crazy! I was lucky enough to get some footage of a baby spyhopping next to mum. (which I will try and post a link to at some point…) I also got some footage of mum and baby doing tail slaps! See a short video clip:

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/46594289 w=398&h=294]

After a busy day of watching the orcas foraging… I was lucky enough to see a humpback breaching on the Johnstone Strait! It breached about 4x in a row and I was lucky enough to capture a clip on video!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/46601861 w=403&h=297]

The evening was amazing with a pink sunset and the A11′s foraging by the hut. Momoko and I heard the A11′s calling above the water! Their calls echoed through Blackney pass and the Johnstone Strait very loud and clear… there were no boats in the area so absolutely no boat noise. It was a very special moment.

A photo of the evening sky just before the pink sunset (which I captured on video…)

Heaven on Earth ~ July 29, 2012 - Johnstone Strait
Heaven on Earth ~ July 29, 2012 – Johnstone Strait

 

Summer dreamland at CP on the lookout for orca whales

It feels like heaven out here on CP (West Cracroft Island – Cracroft Point) which is located on the Johnstone Strait. Paul Spong drove me out here in “the car” with all of my camera gear on July 24th 2012:

Dr. Paul Spong - The founder of OrcaLab - July 24th 2012
Dr. Paul Spong – The founder of OrcaLab – July 24th 2012

I am posted at CP with Momoko from Japan. She will be posted out here with me for the last week of July and then I will have a new assistant in weekly rotations. We arrived on July 24th and it is officially our third day living in the hut on the Johnstone Strait. See a photo of Momoko doing dishes below:

Momoko on July 24th at CP
Momoko on July 24th at CP

The afternoon we arrived on July 24th – we had 2 humpbacks greet us and then shortly after that we had a family of orcas come through. They were foraging and I took some nice photos. I love the mum and baby shots that I took. I recorded audio of the orcas as well. I hope to post a link to it soon.

Mum and Baby of the A30's in Johnstone Strait July 24th
Mum and Baby of the A30′s in Johnstone Strait July 24th
Baby orca of the A30's foraging with mum and family on the Johnstone Strait July 24th
Baby orca of the A30′s foraging with mum and family on the Johnstone Strait July 24th

Today we were awakened by 2 humpbacks blowing right in front of our hut at CP just after 6am (July 26th). See photo of our hut:

CP Hut at West Cracroft Island - Cracroft Point, BC Canada
CP Hut at West Cracroft Island – Cracroft Point, BC Canada
Photo of Natalie morning of July 26 - photo credit Momoko
Photo of Natalie morning of July 26 – photo credit Momoko

I just love it out here.

Natalie at CP July 25th - photo credit Momoko
Natalie at CP July 25th – photo credit Momoko
Momoko looking for whales July 26th
Momoko looking for whales July 26th

More to come soon.

Dreamland - July 26th
Dreamland – July 26th

Natalie

Blows & Breaches: An OrcaLab Update

Blows & Breaches: An OrcaLab Update

Blog post by: Natalie

We attended the 10 year Springer Reunion at Telegraph Cove. We had a booth set up representing OrcaLab there July 13-15th. We played audio recordings of orca calls and also sold CD’s of Springer’s own vocalizations of when she first was reunited with her pod. There were a lot of people attending the event who were instrumental in the rehabilitation process and in reuniting Springer with her pod back in 2002.

Telegraph Cove

Momoko and Paul at Telegraph Cove

Leah on the Gikumi boat tour - Springer Reunion

Paul Spong with assistants Momoko, Kirsty and Krissi on a beautiful sunny day on Hanson Island – July 18th 2012

Paul Spong with assistants

On board the June Cove on route to CP (Cracroft Point on West Cracroft Island ) on July 19th where we cleaned, sanded and painted the deck with a great view of the Johnstone Strait. We watched two male Orcas of the A36 matriline (Kaikash, A46; Plumper, A37) for a couple of hours foraging.

Natalie, Phinn and Paul on the June Cove

Momoko, Krissi and Kristen on the June Cove

Phinn and his new best friend Solo the dog on board the June Cove

Cleaning and sanding the deck at CP

Kaikash foraging in front of CP:

Orca taking a breath

A young humpback was seen breaching in front of the lab around 8:30am on July 23. Krissi, Natalie and Momoko watched in amazement as it breached over and over again. Momoko later identified the young humpback as Galaxy in the 2012 version of “Humpbacks of the Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait area ID Catalogue.”

Galaxy the young humpback breaching

We are looking forward to the rest of the summer season here at OrcaLab. Bring on the whales!

Natalie

The 2012 Season Begins

The 2012 Season Begins

July 11, 2012 – Post by Natalie

We, the assistants, have arrived on Hanson Island for the summer of 2012. We first bonded by going on a hike on Hanson Island to a little cove called Dong Chong Bay. We were awed by the beautiful old cedar tree that OrcaLab has named “Grandmother cedar” which we passed along the way.

Grandmother Cedar

Grandmother Cedar

Hanson Hike

Hanson Hike

Some of us have enjoyed sleeping out on the deck of the Lab and have gone to sleep with the moonlight shining and the humpbacks blowing in the distance. I awoke to an amazing pink, yellow and orange sunrise on the morning of July 10th.

Orcas calling upon sunrise

Orcas calling upon sunrise

We have been cleaning and organizing our camp kitchen for the season and Phinn, from England, has painted a lovely orca on our new storage shelf.

Phinn the Artist

Phinn the Artist

Leah has given us all a tour of CP – Cracroft Point which is located on West Cracroft Island. This is where I will be stationed for the bulk of the summer season. I will be capturing footage, (filming and taking photos), of the whales in Johnstone Strait. This footage will be used in “An Orca Whale Documentary” as well as used to support OrcaLab. Photo below, Orcas – photo taken from CP – July 10th

CP

CP

A34s heading west past CP

A34s heading west past CP

We have been on 3 hour shift rotations in the Lab listening to the hydrophones and recording the beautiful calls of the orcas. Kristen is on her morning shift and looking in the distance for blows on the morning of July 7th.

Early morning Lab shift - Kristen

Early morning Lab shift – Kristen

Paul is from Germany. He caught this Greenling off of Kurt’s Point and we enjoyed it for dinner on July 7th. He also caught fish for dinner on July 10th. See photo below of Paul cooking the fish in the main house.

Paul

Paul

Paul cooking his fish

Paul cooking his fish

Fish

Fish

Kirsty, looking for whales

Wednesday July 4th 2012 OrcaLab Crew

Wednesday July 4th 2012 – OrcaLab Crew on the Lab deck – photo credit – Joe Alfred

VIDEO:

Resident orcas arrive in their summer home – calls heard on July 9th

New 2012 OrcaLab assistants hear calls for the first time in the Lab. Momoko teaches us how to record the sounds and make a written record of the calls.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/45609447 w=340&h=251]

OrcaLab 2012 – hearing calls for the first time in the lab on July 9th from Natalie Lucier on Vimeo.

I am very much looking forward to a fantastic summer here at OrcaLab. Keep checking the blog for updates.

Natalie

Photo and video credit: Natalie Lucier

Kiska in captivity at Marineland

I went to Marineland on opening day May 17, 2012. It was very hard to witness and see the sad lone killer whale named Kiska circling her pool. I took lots of photos and some video as well. You can see the sadness in her eyes. I will be posting more very soon. The is the one and only Orca whale in captivity in Canada at the moment. She was caught in the wild and has been living out her life in captivity. Why do we keep whales prisoners like this? Or any animal for that matter? For us to look at and entertain us? It is very sad.

I watched children say “Wooooowwww” and stand in amazement watching her. Most of them requested their parents to take a photo of them standing in front of the whale.

I sat with her on the edge of her pool in the underwater viewing area for a couple of hours. Sometimes there was a crowd watching her  and then after a few family photos, they would clear out and it would be empty again.

I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered how she felt inside.

A Marineland whale trailer worker came up to me and asked me if I was a “Whale nut”? Probably because I was watching her for so long. He asked if I wanted to hear more information about Kiska. He told me how she was originally taken from Icelandic waters when she was young. And she has been at Marineland since the early 70′s. She used to be the main whale who did all of the whale shows at Marineland. She also birthed a few young but most of them have died. Now because of her age, she is considered “retired”.

She lives alone in a pool with artificial salt water (the park adds what they feel is the correct amount of salt to the fresh water) to keep the whale buoyant and to artificially replica the ocean.

There are a couple of rocks at the bottom of her tank and rock formations around the edges of the pool. She circles these rocks over and over again…

Her dorsal fin is wobbly and not strait. Her eyes stare deep to the bottom of the pool as she circles over and over again…

It is very sad.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4plHB92s6w&w=640&h=390]

I will be shooting a film this summer 2012 on Vancouver Island featuring the killer whales in their natural habitat. Support an Orca Whale Documentary here: http://www.indiegogo.com/orcadoc2012?a=507914

Support an Orca Whale Documentary!

How are humans affecting the Orca whales? How do our choices have an affect on the whales? This documentary will give Canadians insight into the lives of the Orca whales that live in the northern Vancouver Island waters. Their habitat is changing fast and their population is also at risk. Principal photography will be shot this summer July/Aug 2012 on the Johnstone Strait. I will be working in cooperation with Orcalab, a whale research station for 30+years in Canada that uses non-invasive research techniques to study the whales in their natural habitat.

This will be my first feature film. I am excited about the opportunity to work with OrcaLab to tell their story and inspire others to take action and make this world a better place. As a 2011 graduate of TV and Film, I am inspired to make a film that will have an impact and make a difference in our world.

As a filmmaker my goal is to raise awareness of the plight of orca whales, but more importantly to inspire viewers to take action to help protect our natural world. Ultimately, it is not just the orca whale that is at risk, but our own health and well being depend on conserving this treasured species and our planet.

See the fundraising campaign here: http://www.indiegogo.com/orcadoc2012 - Your support is needed and appreciated!

Watch a promo video for the documentary:

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/41518474 w=400&h=300]

Orca Whale Documentary Promo Video from Natalie Lucier on Vimeo.

 

The Whale

I recently went to see the film “The Whale” in Ottawa during the Environmental Film Fest April 21st at the Nature Museum. It was chosen from the Planet in Focus Film Fest that takes place in October every year in Toronto – See their site here http://planetinfocus.org/.

I was blown away and very moved by the film. It is a MUST SEE! The film is about a whale named Luna who is a lone killer whale living without his pod. He becomes very close to humans and shares a bond with many people. This film left the audience speechless. We were lucky enough to meet the directors through a Skype call that the museum set up after the screening. I met the directors on Skype and told them how I was very inspired by their film and also as a filmmaker, how I am very much looking forward to making a documentary film also about the killer whales – which I will be shooting this summer, in cooperation with Orcalab.

For more info on this film, see the website http://www.thewhalemovie.com/ and look for a screening near you!

The Museum of Nature also has a whale exhibit on as well.

The Whale

I recently went to see the film “The Whale” in Ottawa during the Environmental Film Fest April 21st at the Nature Museum. It was chosen from the Planet in Focus Film Fest that takes place in October every year in Toronto – See their site here http://planetinfocus.org/.

I was blown away and very moved by the film. It is a MUST SEE! The film is about a whale named Luna who is a lone killer whale living without his pod. He becomes very close to humans and shares a bond with many people. This film left the audience speechless. We were lucky enough to meet the directors through a Skype call that the museum set up after the screening. I met the directors on Skype and told them how I was very inspired by their film and also as a filmmaker, how I am very much looking forward to making a documentary film also about the killer whales – which I will be shooting this summer, in cooperation with Orcalab.

For more info on this film, see the website http://www.thewhalemovie.com/ and look for a screening near you!

The Museum of Nature also has a whale exhibit on as well.