2020 Encounters

Encounter #14 - March 9, 2020

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Enc Date: 09/03/20

Enc Seq: 1

Enc#: 14

Observ Begin: 01:20 PM

Observ End: 04:30 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers: Katie Jones

Pods: J Pod

Location Descr: Minke Lake and San Juan Channel

Start Latitude: 48 42.22

Start Longitude: 123 05.14

End Latitude: 48 35.10

End Longitude: 123 03.63

Enc Summary:

Around 1215, Dave received a call from Jane Cogan saying that they were aboard their boat “Morning Star” and had found J pod in Boundary Pass. Dave and Katie met at Snug Harbor and left in the “Orcinus” shortly afterwards. We arrived on scene around 1320 about a mile southwest of Sandy Point on Waldron Island. The first whales we saw were the J16s traveling slowly southeast toward San Juan Channel. J36 detached from the rest of the J16s and moved on ahead of the other three. Another whale was about a mile to the southeast of the J16s and other whales could be seen spread out over a mile ahead of us in the White Rock area. A few spread out whales could be seen foraging deep in Mouatt Bay. We moved from one spread out whale to the next spread out whale as J pod moved slowly SE past White Rock and Flattop Island. Some whales moved toward Orcas Island and came around the corner of Jones Island while entering San Juan Channel while others moved over to the San Juan Island shoreline. We were seeing the occasional fish chase so foraging was going on.
Once the whales made it into San Juan Channel, one or two groups began to form. J36, J37, J40, and J49 formed a loose group where J36 and J49 were rolling around and splashing together. We also found J44 and J53 traveling quietly together behind most of the other whales. These two were being gently tactile with one another. Another large social group began forming as the whales approached the Wasp Islands. This large milling group included the previous foursome along with the J22s, J41s, and J39. We then dropped back to the trailing whales with hopes of finding individuals we had not seen yet that day. We found J27 but the other whales back near the trailers were a couple members of the J16s again. We ended the encounter at 1630 with J16 and J42 about a quarter mile off the San Juan Island shoreline and a couple miles west of Pt. Caution.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

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