Saturday, July 31, 2010

Orca Study - Round 3

Hi Everyone!

A lot has happened in the past few weeks up here on the Island.  Giles, our boat driver took off for Oregon for a wedding so we enlisted the help of some AWESOME volunteer drivers.

Sam, the Endowed Chair for the Department for Conservation Biology drove for us in some crazy weather with huge waves. We did see porpoising whales though which was incredible!  Jeff, a Soundwatch driver took the wheel one afternoon when the weather was too good to pass up. He did a fantastic job and we found a great sample! And our final volunteer was Doug.  He was a superstar reading the wind and scooping poop! He was even scooping as he drove! Raise a paw to the volunteers! Thank you!!

This last week we had a couple cameras around us which made things exciting.  We had a perfect day on the water on Monday. 7 pancake size samples, whales everywhere (85 to be exact), calm water, great wind, and the whole team was back together. We couldn't have asked for a better day to start our week.  Of course though, the next few days were a little more trying as the water was never quite ideal and the weather provided us with pea soup fog.

The cameras hung around though and were able to capture Tucker celebrating after a training sample.  The video shows the Tucker dance and Tucker playing around with his Westpaw Design Huck (a floating ball that I attached a rope to).  If you all see us celebrating on the water, feel free to join in on the Tucker dance, Tucker loves the attention!

Tucker celebrating with his Huck

Friday, July 2, 2010

Orca Study 2010 - Round 2


So I think our crew is finally out of the training season and into the big leagues!!  We have had an awesome week working out on the water.  Tucker is constantly showing us what an incredible nose he has and he is such a trooper! The weather and the whales have been perfect. We could not ask for better conditions especially since we are out on the water early now. The water has been smooth as glass. You can see jellyfish like 10-15feet below the surface. It's unbelievable.

We have been working with Orca whales from all three pods (J, K and L) this past week and it seems like our hard work is paying off. We have added 6 samples to our freezer!  One was so incredible! We were transecting behind the whales at a 90 degree angle close to a bunch of whale watching vessels.  Tucker had this fantastic change of behavior and before we knew it we were heading into the boats, right in front of the Clipper! (It is this huge boat, with 3 stories of windows and two balconies.)  Anyway, Tucker hit the sample and we realized as we were slowly driving past the Clipper that the poop was everywhere!! There was so much. So Tucker is on the bow of the boat, whipping his ball around and playing tug, I'm bouncing up and down and doing the Tucker dance and the ladies are runnning around like mad trying to scoop the sample before it gets run over. All within meters of this gigantic Clipper boat!! Everyone on board was cheering for Tucker. It was amazing. ( By the way, the Tucker dance is waving your hands in the air while saying "Yea!!!!" Followed by a quick shake of your backside while saying, " Tucker found it!!") As you can imagine, a little embarrassing but tons of fun.  Right before that we had found a sample and right after that we found a sample. It was a great day.

We'll keep you posted.  Have a great 4th of July!!

Liz, Tucker and Sadie May