Encounter #59 - Nov 1, 2020
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
ObservBegin: 11:46 AM
ObservEnd: 03:06 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: George Hamilton
LocationDescr: south west of Constance Bank
Start Latitude: 48 19.2
Start Longitude: 123 26.7
End Latitude: 48 17.6
End Longitude:123 21.6
Mark and Fin, along with George Hamilton, left Victoria harbour on Mike 1 at 1115 with hopes to find killer whales on a search to the south and west of Victoria.
They stopped ~3 miles south of the harbour for a couple of humpbacks when Mark received a second-hand report of a single bull spotted by a fisherman at 48 20.0/123 23. This was less than 2 nm to the southwest of where they were. Likely the illusive T049C again, they trolled slowly in the direction of the report. After a few minutes of scanning in all directions, Mark figured they needed all the help they could get, so he called Gord to see if he could scan from his 23rd-floor apartment perch.
Gord eventually spotted a bull dorsal fin well to the southwest of them and was able to get Mike 1 close enough to confirm it was T049C before he gave them the slip.
Mark's friend Keith was with his family near Constance Bank on his sailboat, looking for humpback whales and had given him a call to see if any were in the area. Mark told him to head towards them to help them relocate T049C as they continued scanning the area and assured him he would at least come across humpbacks on route. When Keith was within a mile of Mike 1 he called to say he spotted a bull killer whale eastbound to the south of him. Mike 1 was able to see T049C moving quickly eastbound towards the anchored freighters at Constance Bank before he disappeared for another 30 minutes. Mark figured that they must have missed a dive sequence by him altering his track to the south into the sun glare, so they worked their way slowly in that direction. George eventually got a distant glimpse of an eastbound dorsal fin at the edge of the sun glare, and after another 30 minutes, they finally located him a mile to the north of them after overshooting him.
At 1334 he finally found something to prey upon at 48 17.6/123 21.5. Although there had been a couple of Dall's porpoise observed high tailing it out of the area moments before, there was no sign of a chase, so likely it was an unsuspecting seal that he grabbed. He milled around the area for over an hour after doing several cartwheels, several tail lobs, and a couple of incredible full breaches. He didn't leave any crumbs behind during his feasting that the Mike 1 crew could collect for analysis as the gulls would beat them to them, nor did they want to disrupt his feeding in any way. They put the net away when he finished snacking to observe the interaction between him and a humpback. The humpback had been observed earlier to the east while T049C was feeding, but it appeared that the curiosity got the better of it, and it came to check him out. The pair circled around one another for ~10 minutes before T049C proceeded westward, and Mike 1 ended the encounter at 1506 (48 17.6/123 21.6).