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No Go zones in the San Juans and Gulf Islands

 
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colbysmith



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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 10:13 am    Post subject: No Go zones in the San Juans and Gulf Islands Reply with quote

This is the first I've seen this, so thought I'd share here. There are a few zones in the Gulf Islands that are seasonal, and one that is all year long along the sw shore of San Juan Island.

https://waggonerguide.com/no-go-zones-in-gulf-islands-and-san-juans/
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colbysmith



Joined: 02 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading that article closer, looks like the zone near San Juan Island is voluntary.
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thataway



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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how they get the Orcas to stay within the 340 yard wide corridor off the S Shore of San Juan Island. (100 yard for "hand powered" kayaks, and 1/4 mile off for motorized vessels. Smile )

In all seriousness, one needs to stay the prescribed distance from both individuals and pods.

Quote:

A vessel within 1⁄2 mile (800 yards) of a whale is considered to be in the vicinity of whales.

A vessel entering the vicinity of whales within 1⁄2 mile of a whale is considered to be in the slow approach zone and should operate at a low wake speed. A vessel within 1⁄4 mile of a whale is considered to be in the slow zone and should operate at a recommended 7 knots or less, with a reduced wake.

The speed transition should be observed in reverse while a vessel is departing the vicinity of whales.

When possible, all sonar, depth sounders, fish finders and other underwater transducers should be shut off whenever a vessel is in the vicinity of whales..



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hardee



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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2022 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There may or may not be an Orca escort vessel along with the whales. If so, they will let you know if you are in an area where the Orca are. If you ignore them, you will be photographed and could be ticketed.

Harvey
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johnr



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="thataway"]I wonder how they get the Orcas to stay within the 340 yard wide corridor off the S Shore of San Juan Island. (100 yard for "hand powered" kayaks, and 1/4 mile off for motorized vessels. Smile )


[quote]

The Orcas stay there because that's where all the salmon are that they eat. The salmon run right next to shore on their way to the Fraser River. That's also why LIme KIln Park is so popular, you can see the Orcas, very close, from the shore
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ssobol



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnr wrote:
... That's also why LIme KIln Park is so popular, you can see the Orcas, very close, from the shore


From the park you can often see the Orcas much better than from one of the whale watch boats. Especially with the new restrictions.

The whales have to cooperate and go by the park though. Can be weeks between sightings there.
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JamesTXSD



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="johnr"][quote="thataway"]I wonder how they get the Orcas to stay within the 340 yard wide corridor off the S Shore of San Juan Island. (100 yard for "hand powered" kayaks, and 1/4 mile off for motorized vessels. Smile )


Quote:


The Orcas stay there because that's where all the salmon are that they eat. The salmon run right next to shore on their way to the Fraser River. That's also why LIme KIln Park is so popular, you can see the Orcas, very close, from the shore


Five years of driving commercial whale watch boats, just for a reference. "All the salmon" probably means different things to different people (or Orcas): the number of salmon out there is significantly down from years past. The Southern Resident Killer Whales (the salmon eaters) are in a world of hurt because of that greatly diminished food supply. I haven't been keeping track lately, but in 2017, the salmon run was 7% of normal. Yes, that is 93% LESS than normal. They are having to go further in search of a dwindling food supply.

In years past, the salmon would get pushed in on the tidal current, and you would see Orca on the west side of San Juan Island frequently... because that is where the salmon used to be. The Orca don't stick around when they can't find food. As a result, they are out in the Pacific far more than they are in the Salish Sea these days.

You want to find animals? Go where their food is. The majority of Orca sightings in the San Juans and Gulf Islands the past two years have been transient Killer Whales (the mammal eaters); they are less surface active, and seem to be less curious about boats. But, their food source, harbor seals and harbor porpoise, are plentiful.

Southern Resident Killer Whales and boats have co-existed for decades. The boats AREN'T the problem - the lack of salmon is the problem. That said, I saw people on boats violating the distance rules almost every trip out; it was rarely the commercial operators, because they know the rules and know they are always under scrutiny when around the whales.

If you think the distance rules on the west side of San Juan Island are for the protection of the whales, you are fooling yourself. There are homeowners (expensive homes) on the west side who would like to see ALL boats prohibited, all the time. If you are on the west side of San Juan Island and don't see other boats around and think you have that area all to yourself, I assure you that you are being watched. No, I am not paranoid - I know the rules and had a rangefinder at the helm to keep track of distance.

Getting to see all the wildlife in the Salish Sea on a daily basis was a special time for me. I miss being out there, but I do not miss the political aspects of rules that aren't getting to the root of the problem with the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Sadly, I think we are beyond the tipping point for saving those magnificent mammals: a slowly starving population and fewer animals of breeding age. Add in the fact that this population is full of toxins (mostly from what man has put in the water) that create a survival issue for newborn Orcas (the toxins are transferred from the mother, males have no way of getting rid of the toxins).

Restricting boats to a half mile distance is a "looks like we're doing something" result, rather than actually helping to save this mammal population.
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johnr



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2022 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not making any comments here about the effectiveness of the ban, I'm just explaining to Bob (above) that the resident Orcas actually are within that protection zone because that's where the salmon are (when there are salmon).
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JamesTXSD



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2022 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trying not to belabor the facts, but my last year of driving commercial whale watch boats, the SRKW were rarely in that "protection zone" along the west side of San Juan Island. And when the timing was right that they were in that area, they were just passing through. I made far more trips to Boundary Pass or the Strait of Georgia than to the west side of SJI. When the whales were in Haro Strait, they were more often seen towards the middle of the Strait than close in to San Juan Island.

On a day off, we rode our scoots to the park at Lime Kilm Lighthouse. They keep track of whale sightings. Far more "no sightings" days than "sightings." There are also hydrophones used in that area to listen for whale sounds - same results. Records kept with the Pacific Whale Watch Association showed that when the SRKWs were in the Salish Sea, they spent less than 5% of that time along the west side of San Juan Island.

The sightings bear it out: the SRKWs just aren't there like they had been in years past. Yet the tales of "that's where the whales are" continue.

Bob's comment was tongue-in-cheek. "The whales didn't get the memo," used to be a joke.
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