“Canopener” (Photo by Bob Stewart)
Oh, ocean creatures are just amazing! While you’ve likely heard about the oarfish carcass that washed up near Catalina Island, we’ve had some fantastic sightings closer to home, too. Orcas aren’t quite as exotic as oarfish, but they’ll impress you with their beauty, speed and mad predatory skills – who else (other than humans) goes after sharks?
Coastal sightings of these killer whales are rare. Out at sea, however, odds of seeing orcas increase and the folks at Naked Whale Research are hoping more people will share their stories and photos. Researcher Jeff Jacobsen recently relayed a couple:
On October 5, Robert Reed and Bob Stewart were fishing near the Eel River Buoy when a pair of killer whales happened by. Stewart took photos of the male, which Jacobsen sent to Alisa Schulman-Janiger who maintains the killer whale photo-ID catalog for California. She identified the male as CA60 aka “Canopener,” who was first identified off of Humboldt on Sept. 20 1980 – 1980!
Canopener’s been seen from Santa Rosa Island off of Santa Barbara to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), most frequently in Monterey Bay lately. He is a mammal eater, a “transient” ecotype, maybe the biggest one in her catalog. And despite his fearsomeness, he always travels with his mom.
The next day, Jim Yarnall and wife were in the same general area and saw another transient pair, a male and a female. Schulman-Janiger identified the female as the rarely seen CA136 and is still trying to match the male.
CA136 (Photo by Jim Yarnall)
Unknown male (Photo by Jim Yarnall)
Jacobsen explained that a rich history exists on most of the killer whales traversing the coast and, importantly, that individual whale background can be accessed via a simple photograph – providing it shows enough detail of the side, trailing edge of the dorsal fin and overall shape, and the gray saddle patch behind it.
You can be part of things! Report sightings and upload photos at the Naked Whale Research website.
Here’s some more fun local orca facts:
The mammal eaters – “transients” – seem to run a trap line along the coast, keeping that element of surprise on their side by not hanging out in one area for long.
The salmon-eating “residents” from the Salish Sea area (Puget Sound) also pass back and forth – the K pod made the news because researchers were able to track one of the whales from a satellite tag placed temporarily in his dorsal fin.
And, no doubt, Jacobsen says, the third and less-known type, the “offshores,” who tend to spend most their time west of the shelf break in deep water feeding on sharks, can be seen here too.
Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Today
Us101 N Sr255 E Ofr / Samoa Blvd (Humboldt office): Traffic Hazard
8064 Mm101 (Garberville office): Trfc Collision-No Inj
3165 Gold Valley Dr : AMBER Alert
Safety Corridor : CLOSURE of a Road
Spyrock Rd / Mm101 (Garberville office): County Roads
Times-Standard Breaking: Willow Creek grocery store robbed at gunpoint
SoHum Parlance: I want my kids in a school with this Principal!
Marin Independent Journal: Want to learn to code? There’s an app for that
Fred’s Humboldt Blog: Minimum Wage Stuff
PREVIOUSLY: Dead Fisher Found at Marijuana Cultivation Site
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department press release:
The necropsy of the deceased young male adult Fisher located in the marijuana garden in Six Rivers National Forest on 07-31-2013 was recently completed by a scientific team of researchers. The necropsy confirmed suspicions that the Fisher was in fact killed due to Carbamate insecticide poisoning, specifically Methomyl. Methomyl is a highly acute toxic insecticide, its use restricted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Fisher also had Brodifacoum a 2nd generation anticoagulant rodenticide detected in its system. The researchers believe the Fisher experienced convulsions, muscle tremors and respiratory distress during its death.
There were pieces of meat believed to be hotdog inside the Fishers stomach. It was pointed out that if this hotdog were eaten by any other animal it would be toxic to that animal and this toxicant can travel through the food chain, so any scavenger eating an animal poisoned with this would also likely become ill or die.
The researchers believe this is also a public safety issue. See below from Cornell University:
TOXICOLOGICAL EFFECTS - ACUTE TOXICITY: Methomyl is potentially a highly poisonous material in humans (6). It is highly toxic if it is ingested or absorbed through the eyes, moderately poisonous when inhaled, but of lower toxicity with skin, or ‘dermal,’ exposure (18, 30). Methomyl is a highly toxic inhibitor of cholinesterase, an essential nervous system enzyme. Symptoms of anti- cholinesterase activity include weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, abdominal cramps, chest discomfort, constriction of pupils, sweating, muscle tremors, and decreased pulse. If there is severe poisoning, symptoms of twitching, giddiness, confusion, muscle incoordination, slurred speech, low blood pressure, heart irregularities, and loss of reflexes may also be experienced. Death can result from discontinued breathing, paralysis of muscles of the respiratory system, intense constriction of the openings of the lung, or all three (6, 16). The onset of symptoms may be delayed up to 12 hours (16). The route, duration, and concentration of methomyl exposure will affect the severity of poisoning and the number and types of symptoms that occur. Complete recovery from an acute poisoning by methomyl, with no long term health effects, is possible if exposure ceases and the victim has time to reform their normal level of cholinesterase and to recover from symptoms (7, 26). (For more information on cholinesterase, please refer to the Toxicology Information Brief on Cholinesterase- Inhibition).
The public is being advised to not handle or touch any items located in any active or inactive marijuana garden site. The items in the site could potentially poison the person by the mere handling of the items; some of these chemicals can travel through exposed skin. Allowing your dog off leash in areas where one of these grows is located could also result in your dog being poisoned. If marijuana grow site is located leave the area immediately and notify local law enforcement.
Kym Kemp / Wednesday, July 3 @ 4 p.m. / wildlife
Doug Bryan of the Southern Humboldt Fire Chiefs Association Public Information Team is reporting that there is a fire in the Red Mountain area of Northern Mendocino and one on the eastern side of Reed Mountain in Southern Humboldt. Fire resources are responding and some are at the scene. They appear to be related to lightning strikes.
UPDATE 4:05 P.M: Two more fire reported by Bryan. One in Harris and one in the Jewett Rock area.
UPDATE 10:50 P.M.: Doug Bryan gave the following update on the fires:
There were three reported fires in the sohum area, 1) east of reed mt/west of bells springs, duggan (sp?) mill area, 2) red mt area, 3) the coordinates I heard placed the third fire appx 15 miles SE of Zenia, as opposed to the reported 1.5 miles south of Jewett Rock. There were five reported fires in Mendo, 1 in Fort Bragg, 4 in Nor Mendo, various locations.
The above video shows a fisher that scientists suspect was poisoned by rodenticides. According to the Youtube caption, “This fisher had four different anticoagulant rodenticides in its tissues: three SGARs (second generation anticoagulant rodenticide) and one first-generation rodenticide.”
Recent studies have tied the deaths of wildlife to the use of rodenticides (poisons used to kill rats, mice, etc.) The rodents eat the toxicants, become ill, then can more easily be caught and consumed by predators. Then those predators—hawks, owls, bob cats, etc.—in turn get poisoned.
One northern California study posited that marijuana grows on public lands have especially impacted fishers (a cat sized carnivore that is a candidate for Endangered status) because some growers bring large amounts of these products into remote areas where the fishers live. Besides the distance from traditional sources of the toxicants (agriculture lands or urban settings,) the reasons that the study authors believe marijuana grows to be a source of the animals’ exposure are the facts that large amounts of these products have been found at remote grows and most of the fisher deaths occurred during the spring when growers must protect their young plants from rats and mice.
Not only wildlife but an estimated 10,000 children a year are exposed to the rodenticides. In fact, the EPA has moved to ban some products because of the danger to both children and wildlife.
As the understanding of the role of rodenticide in poisoning spreads, there has been a backlash against the products. The anti-rodenticide movement is gaining momentum in Humboldt. It began in Southern Humboldt where several stores have begun removing rodenticides from their shelves. The Humboldt Co. Supervisors recently unanimously voted for a resolution to urging businesses to “stop the sale of all products containing” one of ten rodenticides.
There are several groups working to bring awareness of the problem. Raptors Are the Solution is a national organization that has local support. A local Facebook Group, Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Rat Poison, has over 200 members.
LoCO interviewed a member of that Facebook Group who has extensive experience with gardening and dealing with rodents without using rodenticides. Uti, as he is known, provided photos and detailed instructions on protecting young plants from rats without using chemicals.
The elephant seal beached at the North Jetty took a turn for the worse over the past few days. A wound on the seal’s left flank – possibly a shark bite – was festering and apparently rotting, necessitating the need for the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center to step in.
Volunteers met in the parking lot this morning for a quick planning session, then trucked out to the seal. They gathered around, called, “Let’s go!” and quickly straddled the injured seal and within a few minutes had lifted her into a crate. Next stop for “Robbie” – now named after Jetty caretaker Rob Franks, who’s been instrumental in keeping a eye on the seal – the Crescent City center, where she’ll receive antibiotics and care.
Volunteers: Lynda Stockton, Stranding Coordinator Northcoast Marine Mammal Center; Rob Franks; Bill Lydgate; Lana Ray; Brett Carothers; Brett Poirier; Nathan Freney; Jason O’Connell; Daniel Worley and Kaylee Savage-Wright.