Kimberly Pratt, July 10, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kimberly Pratt
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
July 2 – 24, 2005

Mission: Ecosystem Wildlife Survey
Geographical Area: Pacific Northwest
Date: July 10, 2005

Orca pod
Orca pod

Weather Data from Bridge

Latitude: 38,55.2 N
Longitude: 124.22.003 W
Visibility:  < 1miles
Wind Speed & Direction:  200 degrees, 8 knots
Sea Wave Height: 1-2
Sea Swell Height: 5-6 ft.
Sea Level Pressure: 1016.2
Cloud Cover: cloudy and foggy
Temperature:  21.8 Celsius

Scientific Log

Orcas found! Yesterday evening, approximately 8 Killer Whales were tracked and observed off the bow of the McARTHUR II. Scientists are right now trying to determine if they are resident, off-shore, or transient whales.  This they will do by looking at their saddles, the area just under the dorsal fin.  It has already been determined that this pod did not have a large bull as none of the whales had the very large dorsal fin.  Male bull fins can be as large at 6ft high. A southern resident Killer Whale is reported to be over 100 years old. Attached are 2 photos of the group we observed last night, and also an  older picture of a baby Orca, as evidenced by the yellow/pinkish coloring.  Thanks to Holly Fearnbach for the photos.

Orca dorsal fin
Orca dorsal fin

Today we are heading closer to the California coast, north of Bodega Bay. It has been foggy all day with no chance to do observations.

Personal Log

I had to get these out to all of you. Seeing so many wild Orcas was breathtaking. The flying bridge was full of oohs, and awes as everyone ran to get their cameras.  One of the animals spy-hopped to look around and we observed them for about 40 minutes.  I also thought you might enjoy the “baby” orca picture. Last night there were some juveniles in the group, as evidenced by the smaller dorsal fins.

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