THE “ATLIN POST” TOWING A DEAD ORCA
The clouds parted today,so I got out for a shoot but no sooner had I launched my boat,than I noticed the Fog beginning to move in!
I knew the town would be covered soon,so I headed down the inlet. A friend told me there was a dead Orca at the Grice Bay ramp! I wanted to get some shots while they were doing their autopsy,but arrived too late! The Canadian Coast Guard cutter “Atlin Post” was already towing it out to sea!
Disappointed I headed up into Fortune Channel to look for bears? I found one & recognized it.It was a bear that was a bit skittish! I call it “Scaredy Cat”. I can’t get within 200 meters before it trots off into the forest!
Went over into Gunner to see what was going on & I did find a bear but the light was already gone & it was too far away to get anything crisp!
I knew my night was going to be poor with the fog moving in! I wouldn’t be able to get any shots of my eagle friends & the bears were not cooperating either! Big strike outs tonight! No Orca,bears (close up) or eagles!
I came back in early to lick my wounds! No light…..no shots!
UPDATE – (Sept 18th,2013) I received this info about that dead Orca from Rod Palm (Strawberry Island Research)
“September 12, at 14:00, 8 nautical miles off Long Beach, Claire Mosley (Biologist on Jamie’s
Whaling Station vessel “Leviathan 2”) spots something curious floating in the distance; a few
pleading words to Skipper Chris McCue and the course is altered to check it out. They didn’t
expect this but there it is – a big bull Kawkawin (Killer Whale) dead in the water. Chris calls us,
and the machine starts turning. Here’s the skinny: a call to Skipper Marcel Theriault (Ceara
Salvage) – says he could have his vessel “Beach Hopper” on scene within an hour; a call to
Graeme Ellis and John Ford (the top whale brass at the Pacific Biological Station [PBS]) – “Can
you guys budget a recovery?”; their network kicks into gear and within an hour Marcel is on his
way. “Meanwhile back at the ranch”–oops sorry, back at the whale, the whale-watch fleet has
been rotating a presence so that the location is not lost. A call back from PBS and Marcel is on
site and has the whale in tow by 17:30. Shortly after, the Coast Guard vessel “Atlin Post” takes
over to tow against the ebbing tide. Once they’re in the harbour, Marcel pulls it over to us here
on Strawberry Island, where we explore the body and bask in its aromatic splendour for 36+
hours. At dawn on Saturday, Marcel working in conjunction with the “Atlin Post” pickup the
whale and have it delivered to the Grice Bay boat ramp, where Long Beach Auto is able to drag
the carcass up out of the water. Graeme is first on scene and right away identifies the whale as
the 33-year-old Northern Resident I46, who generally ranges through the inside Northern waters
of Vancouver Island. Shortly after, a keen and able-bodied necropsy crew headed up by Dr.
Stephen Raverty (pathologist at the Provincial Animal Health Center at Abbotsford) is getting
down and dirty taking I46 apart and bagging organ tissue samples and de-fleshing the bones for
shipment to the Ottawa Museum. By mid-afternoon the deed is done, and Marcel along with the
“Atlin Post” take charge of the remaining meat, blubber and assorted body parts for disposal in
the open ocean.
I46 was a late middle-aged Kawkawin who appeared to have normal bodyweight, and had fairly
recently been eating, as was evident by the salmon bones that were found in the upper intestinal
track along with a barbless treble hook that had not traumatically obstructed digestion. No
major external or internal trauma was found, so it’s now up to the lab at Abbotsford to see what
they can find with their histo-, toxo- and all their other ologies. These folks are very thorough,
but it all takes time, so it may be a while before I can get back to you with any results.
Later…Rod firstname.lastname@example.org more images to follow”
(The images below are from Strawberry Island Marine Research Society)