Encounter #12 - Feb 23, 2019
Encounter Number: 12
Enc Start Time: 16:10
Enc End Time: 17:05
Vessel: Orcinus and Tonto
Observers: Dave Ellifrit on Orcinus and Ken Balcomb on Tonto
Pods or ecotype: J pod
Location: Haro Strait
Begin Lat/Long: 48 34.11/123 12.45
End Lat/Long: 48 36.41/123 15.90
Jane Cogan called Dave at home around 1425 to report that she was hearing a single repeated call on the Lime Kiln hydrophone. She then called back a half hour later to relay a report that whales had been seen heading north near Lime Kiln. Dave grabbed his stuff and headed first to the County Park to take a look from shore. At least one whale was seen way offshore of the park and “Sea Lion” came from the north and slowed down for something offshore of CWR. Jeanne Hyde reported seeing a small group of whales to the southwest of the leaders. Dave then headed on to Snug Harbor and left in the boat around 1550.
As “Orcinus” putted out of the harbor, “Sea Lion” was seen nearing Kellett Bluff and Ken was also out in “Tonto”. “Orcinus” headed southwest out of Mitchell Bay to try to find the group Jeanne had seen. Jane called on the radio to report that the three whales who had passed her place were the J19s and that was who was probably near Kellett Bluff. After about 20 minutes of searching, Dave finally saw his first whale mid-strait off Mitchell Bay. This was J39 who foraged a little before passing the boat and continuing north. There were no other whales in sight so “Orcinus” headed in the direction of Kelp Reef. After another fifteen minutes, a small group was seen about three quarters of a mile to the north of Kelp Reef. This was J16, J36, J42, and J31 traveling in a group together. At least two males and a possible third whale could now be seen spread back across the strait off the south end of Mitchell Bay. All the whales were taking extremely long dives and were easy to miss when they finally came up again. Dave overshot the nearest male who was at least a half mile to the southeast of the small group and went to see the far male instead. This was J27 and he was foraging about a mile off Kellett Bluff. The other male seen earlier was seen again well to the west off the southeast end of Sydney Island. This was J26 and the encounter ended at 1705 with him heading north about a half mile east of Halibut Island.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388