Encounter #1 - Jan 23, 2020
Enc Date: 23/01/20
Enc Seq: 1
Observ Begin: 02:12 PM
Observ End: 04:10 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro, Valerie Messier
Location Descr: Trial Island
Start Latitude: 48 22.5
Start Longitude: 123 18.5
End Latitude: 48 26.0
End Longitude: 123 04.8
With no reports, but fair weather, Mark and Joe decided to head out on Mike 1, and were joined by their colleague Val Messier. They departed Victoria at 1145, working offshore of Victoria and across Constance Bank before turning to pass south of Race Rocks and search west along the inbound shipping lanes. They were south of Secretary Island when reports of killer whales near Victoria came in. They extrapolated that the animals must have been near or in Race Pass on Mike 1’s outbound search, and turned east to catch up to the animals.
At 1412 they spotted fins and blows just south of Trial Island and began Encounter # 01 for 2020 at 48 22.5/123 18.5. The first whales observed were T124C and T124A3 with her first calf, T124A3A. This trio was travelling quickly east in pursuit of a larger group approximately a half mile on. After quick proof of presence photos, the Mike 1 crew forged ahead to find the T090s and T124As travelling in two mixed groups. T090C was a few hundred meters to the north of his family travelling alongside T124A and her youngest, T124A6, while T124A4 travelled with the rest of the T090s. These whales were moving swiftly ESE into building southeast seas, but as they reached Middle Bank at 1520 the sea calmed and the group came together to stealthily snag a meal at 48° 24.5 N / 123° 07.9 W. The predation was quick; though no prey item was observed, the smell was faintly noticeable, a slick formed as some gulls picked up a few scraps and a short prey-share followed. The T124A3s and T124C did not join the predation, instead continuing ESE roughly .75 nm south of the group.
Meanwhile, a whale-watch vessel was departing a third group of killer whales, the T101's, approximately 2.5 nm north west of the lead animals. As the T090/T124 group resumed travel at 1530, the Mike 1 crew departed to rendezvous with them. At 1540 the three T101 son's large dorsal fins broke the surface almost simultaneously off Mike 1's bow. This group had initially been picked up at Trial Island by whale-watchers to the north of the T090/T124 group, and were roughly shadowing them. The whales were loosely spread, T101 and T101A travelling approximately 200 meters to the south of T102 and T101B. Eventually T101 took the lead and T101A joined his brothers to follow her east-southeast. As the rain began to fall and the wind picked up, the Mike 1 crew opted to head for Victoria after capturing proof of presence photos for all individuals, ending the encounter at 1610 at 48° 26.0 N / 123° 04.8 W.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388