Resident orcas declining. Transient orcas increasing.

alexsidles

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The Atlantic ran a great article today on the decline of the southern resident orcas and the rise of the transient orcas. We are now down to just 74 southern residents, but we are up to 349 transients. As the article says, the transient population is "well on its way to replacing the residents as the dominant killer whale in the Salish Sea."
  • Trip report of a close-range kayak encounter with resident orcas off San Juan Island, 2014.
  • Trip report of a close-range kayak encounter with transient orcas in south Puget Sound, 2017.
(Both identifications confirmed at the Orca Network archive of sightings).​
Alex
 

kayakwriter

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Interesting. And in part because the transients are the hunter/meat eater tribes. I wonder if there are any implications for kayak safety? (When I first moved out to the West Coast in 1989, there was pretty much only one published guide to kayaking out here. It was my bible. And there was one sentence in it that was reassuring, at least until you thought through all its possible meanings. It went (more or less) "There are no reported instances of Killer Whales attacking kayakers...")
 

mick_allen

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Do the transient orcas come through the Salish sea [ie near the more populated areas] where there'd be more contact?
And I think it's just amazing that the residents cannnot convince themselves to try out other food. Sounds like a dead-end scenario unfortunately - but maybe with the fishfarms reducing there's a ray of hope.
 
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AlphaEcho

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"There are no reported instances of Killer Whales attacking kayakers..."
7E946072-FE89-43D2-9E31-8629615B036F.jpeg


Note: This is firmly tongue in cheek. There are many orca populations in the world. Fearsome as they have been observed to be with other marine mammals, human predation is not a thing they are known for.
 
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alexsidles

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Do the transient orcas come through the Salish sea [ie near the more populated areas] where there'd be more contact?
They do, that's what the Atlantic article is saying. Transient orcas are now pervasive in Puget Sound, the San Juans, Gulf Islands, and the Strait of Georgia.

Here are pictures from my 2017 Hammersley Inlet trip (linked above). These are transient orcas (confirmed by Orca Network), and as you can see, they are very close to my and my dad's boats, and swimming right in front of people's houses! They are not shy of us kayakers! However, they did not become aggressive.

06 Adult female and calf in Totten Inlet.JPG


05 Family group Squaxin Passage.JPG


04 Adult male screens off kayak.JPG

Alex
 

jefffski

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Jan 2, 2014
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Orcas use echolocation--they know where you are! The real danger to all boaters are humpback whales as they do not use echolocation and when they surface, they can only use their eyes to spot obstructions. These animals get hit by ships and boats often. So, in the land of humpbacks, stay close to shore and don't approach the area where you see them dive.
 
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