2019 Encounters

Encounter #15 - Mar 13, 2019

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Encounter Number:15

Enc Start Time: 15:30

Enc End Time: 17:45

Vessel: Orcinus

Observers: Dave Ellifrit and Katie Jones

Pods or ecotype: Transients

Location: Spieden Channel

Begin Lat/Long: 48 38.30/123 08.16

End Lat/Long: 48 38.58/123 11.20

Encounter Summary:

After a series of phone calls from Jane Cogan relaying reports of a group of transients heading up San Juan Channel, Dave and Katie met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat a little after 1500. We arrived on scene at about 1530 in Spieden Channel. The whales, already identified as the T90s and T101s, were traveling slowly west near the southeastern shoreline of Spieden Island. Most of the whales were in one tight group with T101A being the lone outlier traveling a couple of hundred yards ahead of the others. The whales moved a little offshore as they moved west. When they were adjacent to Sentinel Island, they began to wake up and T101B did a big belly flop which he followed with a half breach.
Soon after, the whales started to loosen up and began feeding on something. They may have made an inconspicuous kill then but there is also chance that the whales had killed a sea lion prior to our arrival and were carrying it for most of the way through Spieden Channel before feeding upon it. We never did get a good look at what they killed but the whales were feeding and socializing in the same area around the west end of Spieden Island for over an hour and a half. Since the whales weren’t going anywhere, much of the encounter was spent with the engine off while the whales milled around. We did photo T102 with two big whiskers coming up from the other side of his head so we know they got at least one large pinniped. T101A and T101B were hanging out together around the periphery of the group with occasional forays into the middle of the action. At one point, the two brothers were seen with a large chunk of something while the other whales were feeding on something else a short distance away. Throughout the encounter there were lots of taillobs and other percussive behavior. T90C breached several times and, later in the encounter, was spyhopping repeatedly. Towards the end, the whales were socializing and acting quite confident. We ended the encounter at 1745 off the west end of Spieden Island with the T90s and T101s beginning to move northwest toward Stuart Island.

Photos taken under Federal Permits


Video taken under Be Whale Wise Guidelines

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