Encounter #94 - November 22, 2019
Enc Date: 22/11/19
Observ Begin: 04:17 PM
Observ End: 04:45 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelweitro
Location Descr: north east of Race Rocks
Start Latitude: 48 18.5
Start Longitude: 123 29.0
End Latitude: 48 19.4
End Longitude: 123 27.9
Mark and Joe left Victoria harbour at ~0930 with plans on heading west out the Juan de Fuca Strait. They worked their south past the western edge of Constance Bank and south of Race Rocks. Mark called his friend Gord to have a Big Eye scan from his 23rd floor apartment in case J's were in sight as they were traveling south in the Strait of Georgia outside Galliano Island the evening before. They suspected that J's would likely show up off Victoria's waterfront before the day ended so continued west with hopes to find K's and L's or some more exotic killer whales. They headed west out the middle of the Juan de Fuca and spotted blows between Pillar Point and Clallam Bay and confirmed they were humpbacks. With large swell and minimal wind they decided to push on knowing that to allow any time for a killer whale encounter and make it as far as Swiftsure Bank there was no time for humpback ID's, especially with the short daylight hours. The swell increased to 3 - 4 metres but they managed to get to the Bank. Although there was a tremendous amount of bird life they only spotted a few humpback blows near Tatoosh and a distant breach of a likely humpback at the west end of Swifsture Bank. The conditions for spotting killer whales was less than ideal with the massive swell so they decided to work their way back along the Vancouver Island shoreline. At 1355 they both received a report that J pod had been found near Constance Bank west bound. At this time Mark and Joe were slightly west of Port Renfrew so for them to have a quick look at them before dark there was no more time to stop and scan.
At 1617 as the sun was setting they arrived in the area where J's were last reported (~2 miles north east of Race Rocks) and spotted J27 foraging along with J39. With minimal light they were able to see others to the north and east. They found J31 taking a break from J56 who was playing with a couple of the juveniles. It seemed as though they were all trending back to the east. They were only able to photograph a few of the individuals as they were very spread out doing long foraging dives. They ended the encounter in the dark at 1645 with a distant look at J26 and slowly taxied back towards Victoria. They came across a couple of killer whales foraging amongst humpback whales on the way to the harbour.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388