Encounter #3 (Seq# 2) - Jan 25, 2020
ObservBegin: 02:11 PM
ObservEnd: 04:30 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro, Lili Wilson
Pods: J, K, L
Location Descr: Victoria waterfront to west of Race Rocks
Start Latitude: 48 21.07
Start Longitude: 123 24.48
End Latitude: 48 17.77
End Longitude: 123 33.55
Killer whales were reported exiting Puget Sound at ~ 0800 and again at 0830 approaching Hein Bank. They presumed to be the Southern Residents that were in the Sound the last couple of days. Jane Cogan relayed this information to Mark as he was preparing to head out on a 1000 whale watch trip for Prince of Whales. He called his friend Gord Rowles and told him to have a look with the Big Eyes from his perch on the 23rd floor to the south of Discovery Island towards the ODAS buoy. As Mark was working his way off towards that area Gord spotted multiple blows well south of the ODAS and slightly east of the Romeo buoy. At 1100 Mark was able to confirm members of J, K, and L pods moving steadily west at 48 15.2/123 12.9. Morningstar was also out looking for them so Mark relayed the location and departed several minutes after they arrived to take his guests to Race Rocks before returning to Victoria harbour at 1300.
Mark and Joe departed Victoria on Mike 1 with colleague Lili Wilson at 1345 to assist Dave Ellifrit on Orca with confirming all individuals present. The first whales they encountered were ~ 1 nm from the VH buoy, and turned out to be foraging J pod whales. They began the encounter there at 1411 at 48° 21.07’ N / 123° 24.48’ W and watched J22 and J31 with J56 chasing fish for a few minutes. J38 eventually joined the mother/calf pair and the three were observed prey-sharing at 1424. Fortunately, some scales floated free and Mark was quick on the net, collecting 2 for analysis.
As the whales turned southwest, the Mike 1 crew moved on to the south towards a denser grouping offshore of Albert Head. This turned out to be L110 and K42 socializing, and K34, L106 and L116 doing the same under a half mile south. As these whales were joined by J40 and settled into southerly travel, Mark, Joe and Lili carried on to more whales travelling south of Race Rocks. These animals were spread out and travelling quickly west while doing roughly five-minute dives. Among others and from south to north, L109, K21, K33, K12, K27, L87, L116 and L82 were present.
With light fading and the whales making good progress west, Mark, Joe and Lili moved inshore to collect proof-of-presence photos for K26 and L72 with L105 before cruising back towards Race Rocks. They ran into J39 and a female foraging just west of the park bounds at Race Rocks, and ended the encounter at 1630 at 48° 17.77’ N / 123° 33.55’ W. En route back to Victoria the crew once again encountered J31 and J56, who were now travelling southwest with J27 at 1655 at 48° 18.05’ N / 123° 29.8’ W. Dave reported leaving the J16 matriline nearer to VH, and it seemed that between the Morningstar crew's observations, Dave on Orca and the Mike 1 crew it appeared that all members of the clan except the L12's and L54's were present.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388