May 26th - Whale Research Trip with Keta Conservation is a Giant Success!

We were thrilled to host our first Whale Research Tour on Saturday, and the trip couldn't have gone better! We were fortunate enough to find orcas in the morning, and during the humpback research portion we found "Anvil" the humpback whale! The Keta team was able to collect data and ID photographs of "Anvil" as well as discuss humpback conservation and biology with our guests.

 As usual, our day started with a safety briefing (and a few giggles!) before leaving the dock. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

As usual, our day started with a safety briefing (and a few giggles!) before leaving the dock. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

After leaving the dock we began our trip with a cruise south toward Saltspring island where we caught up with the T101 family (a mother and her three sons) traveling stealthily northward.

 T101B surfaces in the calm waters near the Saltpring island shoreline. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

T101B surfaces in the calm waters near the Saltpring island shoreline. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

We watched as the family of four quietly spread out across the channel moving slowly North, perhaps in search of a seal or sea lion. Orcas use sound to locate their prey, and we think the T101 family may have been emitting high-frequency echolocation "clicks" underwater as they silently moved past us.

 Almost all of the T101 family coming up for a breath of air in the gulf islands archipelago. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

Almost all of the T101 family coming up for a breath of air in the gulf islands archipelago. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

Next, we crossed the Strait of Georgia, where Keta researchers collected data and ID photos of a humpback whale known as "Anvil". Markings on the underside of the fluke are used to identify individual humpbacks, and "Anvil" wasn't fluking much, but expert photographer Natalie Reichenbacher was able to snap a photo that confirmed the whale was indeed "Anvil".

 The biggest set of nostrils we've ever seen! "Anvil" the humpback whale surfaces for a massive breath. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

The biggest set of nostrils we've ever seen! "Anvil" the humpback whale surfaces for a massive breath. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

 "Anvil" never fluked entirely, but this partial fluke was enough to confirm the whale's identity. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

"Anvil" never fluked entirely, but this partial fluke was enough to confirm the whale's identity. Photo by Natalie Reichenbacher

One of Keta's research goals is to determine how humpback whales like "Anvil" are using the Salish Sea, including their diet, and potential feeding hotspots. These "Urban whales" are especially vulnerable to ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, and understanding their diet and small-scale movements could help us to mitigate some of the threats they face while summering in The busy Salish Sea.

 Keta researcher Andrea Hardaker discusses humpback whale conservation while Natalie Reichenbacher collects ID photos. Photo by Jilann Campbell

Keta researcher Andrea Hardaker discusses humpback whale conservation while Natalie Reichenbacher collects ID photos. Photo by Jilann Campbell

All-in-all this was an extraordinary day at sea, packed with both wildlife and information! All proceeds from this tour were donated directly to Keta's conservation initiatives.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you'd like to join our next exclusive Whale Research Tour. 

 

 

Jilann LechnerComment