Encounter #15 - March 15, 2020
Observ Begin: 03:05 PM
Observ End: 04:55 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro
Location Descr: Brotchie Ledge
Start Latitude: 48 24.3
Start Longitude: 123 24.5
End Latitude: 48 24.8
End Longitude: 123 23.7
Early in the afternoon, Mark got a report that a cow and bull pair of killer whales had been spotted near Albert Head and were making their way towards Victoria. He and Joe mobilized Mike 1 and departed the dock in Victoria at 1450. By the time they reached Ogden Point, the whales were almost in sight of the harbour, just north east of Albert Head. The female had not been seen in roughly 40 minutes prior to their arrival, but a large bull was clearly visible on the horizon. Mark and Joe slowed and began the encounter at 1505 at 48 24.4 N/ 123 24.5 W (a mile and half south of Ogden Point).
The bull surfaced nearby and was confirmed to be T010C, so it was assumed that his mom T010 was the second whale. Sure enough, after ~10 minutes tracking the large male a second animal appeared just ahead of him, milling in place. With the distinctive notch near the base of her dorsal fin T010 was confirmed. The two whales continued working the area, apparently after a seal, though no other marine mammal was ever observed. The predation event began at 1522 at 48 23.7 N/ 123 23.6 W. For close to an hour the pair circled and dove, disappearing for over five minutes at times, only to reappear in the same spot, drifting closer to the waterfront with the current. They finally finished the hunt at 1617 at 48 24.0 N/ 123 23.6 W. The smell and oil slick at the surface drew in all the local gulls and the whales turned back to the west once they had finished prey sharing. They initially looked as though they were going to enter Victoria harbour but chose to cross the mouth and continue west towards Royal Roads.
The T010's are two of only a handful of Bigg's known to enter the harbour on more than one occasion, having done so several times in the past decade, the most recent being just over two years ago.
Mark and Joe ended the encounter there at 1655 at 48 24.8 N/ 123 23.7 W and taxied into the harbour.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388