Encounter #16 - March 19 , 2020
Enc Date: 19/03/20
Enc Seq: 1
Observ Begin: 02:10 PM
Observ End: 05:45 PM
Other Observers: Katie Jones
Location Descr: northern San Juan Islands
Start Latitude: 48 44.56
Start Longitude: 123 03.67
End Latitude: 48 42.95
End Longitude: 122 47.43
Ken called Dave to relay a report that “Spirit of Orca” had found a group of whales heading northeast in the Blunden Island area. Dave and Katie met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 1335. We arrived on scene about a mile and a half west of Skipjack Island around 1410. The whales were very active with one main group of young whales doing most of the splashing and rolling around. This group was doing all sorts of behaviors-very few of them fitting nicely into our behavior categories. A few of the older whales were loosely spread within a 100 yards of the play group. Another pair of sub-adults were rolling around together a few dozen yards to the side of the younger whales. At least one of these two was a male. The transients turned out to be the T49As and the T71s-11 whales in total. One of the two subadults was T49A3, who we know to be a male, but the other was T71C and he (?) certainly looked and acted like another pre-sprouter male. The youngest whales present (T49A5 and T71B2) switched back and forth between traveling slightly ahead with their mothers and going back to join the fun in the rear play group.
The T49As and T71s traveled northeast toward Patos Island. They briefly looked like they were heading for the east end of the island before turning and heading back west. The whales rounded Alden Point on Patos Island and then turned east again along the north side of the island. They then continued east along the north side of Sucia and Matia Islands passing, at various points, Steller sea lions and harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. Other than a couple of brief periods where the whales spread out a little and did a little milling, no serious hunting was observed and the whales remained social for the entire encounter. We ended the encounter at 1745 about a mile northwest of Barnes and Clark Islands with the whales heading southeast.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388