2019 Encounters

Encounter #85 - October 12, 2019

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

Enc Date: 12/10/19

Enc Seq: 1

Enc#: 85

Observ Begin: 02:30 PM

Observ End: 04:35 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers: Darren Croft


Location Descr: eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca

Start Latitude: 48 18.42

Start Longitude: 123 13.55

End Latitude: 48 18.37

End Longitude: 122 55.56



After receiving multiple reports of a large but spread out group of transients coming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Dave and Darren met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 1340. As we were approaching the scene with the main group several miles south of Discovery Island, a whale watch vessel reported that a few whales had split off from the others and were now heading west. Before we left, we had heard that a few rarer Ts, formally known as CA166, CA173, and CA173A, were present along with several of our more regular T groups. These three whales had been coming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Fall and Winter the last several years but they had never made it east of the Victoria waterfront. We caught up to the west bound whales south of the Victoria waterfront at about 1430. This was indeed CA166, CA173, and CA173A who had recently been given the West Coast transient designations T251, T252, and T253. The threesome were slowly west bound and we left them at about 1455 to head for the other whales.
We got on the first of the other groups around 1520 about four or five miles to the southeast of the T252s. The T37As were the southern most group with the T49As and T123s about three quarters of a mile to the north of them. T123A left the group he was with before we got there and steamed south past our bow toward the T37As. The rest of the T49As and T123s traveled slowly southeast in a loose group. We left this group at about 1535. Another group was about two miles to the east of the T49As and T123s and this ended up being the T35As, T99s, and T38A. The whales were in a tight group heading quickly east toward the south end of Lopez Island. After looking at photos after we got home, it was noticed that T99 had been carrying a dead harbor porpoise by the tail. We also noted that T38A1 was not present with T38A and the T35As and may now be missing. We left this group at about 1605 and headed toward the T37As who were still several miles to the south. The T37As were traveling slowly eastbound in a tight group and we ended the encounter with them at 1635 somewhere in the Eastern Bank area.

Photos taken under Federal Permits


© 2019 Center for Whale Research

The Center for Whale Research is a 501c3 nonprofit organization registered in Washington State.

All rights reserved. No part of the material found on this website may be reproduced or utilized in any form, or by any means, without the prior written consent of the Center for Whale Research.  All members of CWR are non-voting members. 

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle