Just got an exciting email from Dr. Marla Holt, bioacoustician on the NOAA cruise that aims to understand how the southern residents utilize the outer coast of Washington. They departed last Monday and are scheduled to return April 9th, making for a significantly longer cruise than in past years.
Since big ocean-going research boats like the McArthur II cost on the order of $20k/day, it’s GREAT news that they have not only encountered L pod, but also obtained some information about what the orcas are eating. It will be fascinating to learn which fish they are consuming on the outer coast at this time of year…
Things are going really well. We found L pod on the 4th day at sea!!! The NOAA ship McArthur II detected all of L pod just north of Grays Harbor, WA in the middle of the night last night (~0330 March 26). We lost them acoustically but then found them visually and acoustically in the mid morning and were able to deploy the small boat (RHIB). The whales were spread out and traveling south most of the day. Brad and the rest of the crew got photo IDs and some prey samples, stayed with them day until 1830. Last visual sighting was at dusk when they grouped back up and became quiet. Hopefully we will stick with them through the night to get more samples tomorrow (3/27).
Congrats to Brad, Marla, and the rest of salty surveillance team!