Encounter #55 - Oct 9, 2020
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
Enc Date: 09/10/20
Enc Seq: 1
Observ Begin: 12:08 PM
Observ End: 04:19 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Location Descr: Bechey Head
Start Latitude: 48 18.5
Start Longitude: 123 40.4
End Latitude 48 19.5
End Longitude: 123 42.8
Mark left Victoria harbour on Mike 1 at 1140 to attempt to acquire the T059's spotted in the vicinity of the T123's near Sooke. Both groups were last seen slowly eastbound off of East Sooke Park.
At 1204 Mark stopped within 1/4nm south of Church Rock and pulled out his binoculars for a scan. He spotted dorsal fins amongst the coho sportfishing fleet south of Bechey Head. On his approach, he confirmed the T123's but no sign of the T059's. He continued scanning throughout the area while he watched the T123's moving amongst the feeding birds.
At 1227 they started to move quickly northeast, and Mark could see that they had located a large Steller sea lion feeding on a fish (48 18.7/123 40.4). They went to work. T123A stayed on the peripheral while T123 and her other two offspring took turns making quick passes by the Steller.
With long breaks between these rushes, they drifted slowly northwestward with the ebb current as the taunting continued.
At 1325 Mark decided to head west as a couple of commercial whale watch boats out of Victoria were now on scene, and he had a report that killer whales were seen westbound off of Otter Point an hour earlier, likely the T059's. The steller hunt had now been going on for over an hour, and it didn't appear to be ending anytime soon.
Mark continued west as far as Jordan River, now 8 miles past the shore-based report off Otter Point an hour and a half later. He decided that they may have made it further with the help of the strong ebb current, so he turned around in the grey skies and light rain and headed back east closer to the shore with hopes that he had gone by them. The consolation prize was to return and watch the T123's finish the Steller hunt.
He arrived back on scene at 1448 and could see they were still at it 2 hours and counting, now slightly to the northwest less than a mile south of Secretary Island. At about the 3-hour mark, T123A joined in the efforts and took his fair share of rushes on the Steller.
At 1609, they finally put the Steller out of his misery after drowning him 3 hours and 42 minutes after the start of the hunt.
Mark ended the encounter at 1619 (48 19.5/123 42.8) while the T123's were starting their prey sharing as a large slick was forming throughout the area, and numerous gulls arrived to pick up any leftover crumbs.