In mid-August two killer whales were observed to be trapped in Barnes Lake, near the small community of Coffman Cove, in Southeast Alaska. Through an amazing collaboration between residents of Coffman Cove, NOAA, scientists and others, the whales were successfully rescued and guided back to open water on September 29th. Jared Towers, director of Bay Cetology joins us to tell the story of the rescue and how he helped to guide the whales out of Barnes Lake.
Our discussion begins with Jared talking about Barnes Lake, a saltwater lagoon with entrances to the north and south, and the challenges of getting in and out of the lake from open water. Jared also discusses an incident in 1994 when offshore killer whales were trapped in the same area for several weeks. He also discusses his involvement in previous killer whale rescues with T046C2 and T073B, the challenges of whale rescues and the available methods that can be used.
Jared helped to identify the two Bigg's killer whales that were trapped in Barnes Lake, T051, a 42-year-old male, and T049A2, a 16-year-old male. Prior to their sighting in Barnes Lake in mid-August they had been last reported together off the west coast of Vancouver Island on July 9th.
Our discussion with Jared covers the incredible collaboration that took place to rescue T051 and T049A2 and the detailed considerations and contextual knowledge behind the specific vocals he played to help guide the whales out of Barnes Lake.
Jared tells the story in detail of how the first attempt failed to get the whales free through the kelp bed at the north entrance. He continues by describing how the team regrouped the following day to successfully free the two whales through the south entrance.
Our discussion with Jared concludes by talking about Finwave, an online photo-identification database he helped develop to streamline identification and cataloguing sightings information, and how it is currently being used to track Bigg's killer whale data.
Sara and Jeff finish the episode talking briefly about recent whale sightings around the San Juan Islands and meet the matriline with the T049As.