2019 Encounters

Encounter #51 - August 11, 2019

The Southern Resident orcas need your help like never before.
together we will be a strong collective voice for the whales.

Date: 11-August-19

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 51

Enc Start Time: 14:15

Enc End Time: 17:33

Vessel: Mike 1

Observers: Mark Malleson, Joe Zelweitro

Pods or ecotype: Southern Residents

Location: Clo-oose

Begin Lat/Long: 48 35.4/124 51.9

End Lat/Long: 48 34.1/124 44.5

Encounter Summary:

Mark and Joe left Victoria harbor at 0730 on Mike 1 to head west out the Juan de Fuca to search for whales with hopes to see the large concentration of humpbacks seen off of Sombrio Point the last few days with hopes to get out towards Swiftsure Bank to find the Southern Residents.
They entered fog slightly east of Sombrio Point, so they stopped to listen for blows. The occasional single blow could be heard, so they continued a bit further west and stopped to listen again. More blows could be heard slightly to the northwest, so they continued another mile in that direction. The fog cleared up, and they came across a large concentration of humpbacks at 48 27.0/124 22.5 _~30 individuals. After getting most of their flukes photographed, they decided to continue west towards Swiftsure Bank taking advantage of the near-perfect conditions with minimal swell and wind. As they approached the western entrance to the Juan de Fuca, there was a moderate southwest breeze with a 2 - 3-foot chop. They tacked off towards the south edge of the bank and came across a small aggregation of humpbacks 7 miles southeast of the bank (48 30.1/124 50.1) and were certain they saw a breaching killer whale as they approached that area. After several minutes they concluded that it must have been a small humpback so continued on. Once reaching the southeast corner of the bank, they took a tack across the eastern edge of the bank on a line for the Nitinat river mouth. As they went north, the seas flattened out. When they got within 5 miles of the Vancouver Island shoreline and had a good scan before they took a line to the southeast. Bingo! At 1415 they spotted killer whales on the bow at 48 35.4/124 51.9 (~4.5 nm southwest of Carmanah). We quickly confirmed that we were seeing members of the Southern Residents and that representatives of all three pods were present and from the spread, we guessed that the entire clan was there. We were able to find J31 with her new calf J56 as well as L77's calf L124 that was first identified by CWR in January near Constance Bank when the entire clan was last observed on the inside. They all continued on a line towards the Vancouver Island shoreline spread from the mouth of the Nitinat river to slightly west of Carmanah. Once they were within a mile of the shore, they actively foraged (48 39.6/124 52.5) for close to an hour before they headed southeast past Carmanah. We ended the encounter at 1733 (48 34.1/124 44.5)

Photos taken under Federal Permits


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