Encounter #11 - Feb 26, 2020
Enc Date: 26/02/20
Enc Seq: 2
ObservBegin: 01:20 PM
ObservEnd: 02:16 PM
Staff: Dave Ellifrit
Other Observers: Katie Jones
LocationDescr: Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca/Smith Island
Start Latitude: 48 18.83
Start Longitude: 122 48.07
End Latitude: 48 15.52
End Longitude: 122 47.35
While Katie and Dave were out on J pod (Encounter 10-1), we received a report that Allison Engle had seen and photographed T77A and T124C from the Washington State ferry as the whales were heading south along the Turn Island shoreline. We filed this info away while we continued our J pod encounter with hopes that they would take us close enough to Cattle Pass that we could rationalize temporarily leaving the residents to take a look at the pair of transients.
When we were near Hein Bank with J pod, we received another report of a group of whales near MacArthur Bank that did not seem like it could be J pod whales. Since we were having trouble finding the very spread out J pod whales that we knew were around, we decided to go investigate. Our search took us over towards Iceberg Point and then we headed over to the Whale Rock area in Cattle Pass hoping that T77A and T124C got lost in Griffin Bay for a couple of hours. When we were near Whale Rocks, we received another report that someone had seen a pair of male killer whales about halfway between Colville Island and Smith Island. The weather and water were beautiful so we decided to keep searching and turned around and headed southeast toward Minor Island. The sighting conditions were excellent so it was a little discouraging that we hadn’t seen anything yet as we approached the area just a little north of Minor Island. We were about a half mile east of Minor Island and beginning to think the pair of Ts had disappeared as they had lots of directions that they could have headed. We were feeling a bit disappointed and, since we were there, decided to circumnavigate Smith and Minor Islands before heading home when Katie spotted the whales to the south of us in the middle of a sun streak.
We got to the whales at about 1320 about a half mile south of Minor Island right as they went on a long dive. When they came up again the two were tight together heading slowly south-southeast. After their next long dive, the pair surfaced about a quarter mile apart, paralleling each-other's course. Around 1355, the two whales turned and began approaching one another at a bit quicker pace making us think that they may have found something. We then noticed a large, very freaked out Steller sea lion performing evasive maneuvers. While we never saw the whales surface near the sea lion, it was obvious they checked it out and briefly tested it before, disappointingly, moving on. When the pair came up again, they were back together traveling slowly south-southeast. The encounter ended at 1416 with T77A and T124C still traveling slowly south-southeast about halfway between Minor Island and Partridge Point on Whidbey Island, just a little north of the eastern part of Partridge Bank.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388