Encounter #52 - August 15, 2019
Encounter Number: 52
Enc Start Time: 11:05
Enc End Time: 16:40
Observers: Dave Ellifrit
Pods or ecotype: J pod
Location: Haro Strait
Begin Lat/Long: 48 29.54/123 08.24
End Lat/Long: 48 28.48/123 06.08
Reports of residents on the west side of San Juan Island had been filing in during the morning along with a report of a fog bank lurking at the south end of Haro Strait. Dave left Snug Harbor at 1015 and headed down the west side as the fog bank began to roll up it. By the time the boat made it to Edwards Point, most of Haro Strait was completely engulfed in fog. Despite this, whale watch boats were catching occasionally glimpses of the whales as they headed north up the west side of SJI. Dave saw his first whale at about 1105. This was J36 somewhere near Land Bank and she soon disappeared again into the fog. There was a just enough of a break in the fog near Bellevue Point to see the leading whales turn around and head back down island into the fog again. Around 1150 near shore, somewhere around Pile Point, J36 showed up in the fog with J16. These two traveled south for about five minutes before J26 showed up in the gloom just ahead of them. The three of them continued south for another seven minutes or so before being lost in the fog again a little southwest of False Bay.
After another thirty-five minutes of putting slowly around in the fog, the whale watch fleet and whales were found again near Edwards Point. Most of the rest of J pod were in a loose group pointed slowly south. There was a little socializing going on and J44 did two belly flops. J pod began to spread out in small groups and singles as they moved south and some individuals began actively foraging. Most of the fog in Haro Strait had completely cleared up by 1300. After another half hour or so, several small groups had moved back inshore and began heading north again up SJI. Several whales were still foraging and J35 was seen carrying a salmon for several minutes as she traveled slowly north with most of the rest of the J17s and J40. A larger group about a quarter mile ahead of them that included the J11s, J16s, J19s, and J45 traveled in tight group and made it as far north as the County Park before they turned around and headed back down the island again just before 1500. J pod traveled down SJI and the encounter ended at 1640 due to deteriorating sea conditions.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388