Encounter #64 - Dec 1, 2020
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
EncSeq: 1 & 2
ObservBegin: 10:16 AM
ObservEnd: 12:43 PM
Vessel: Mike 1 (sequence #1), Orcinus (sequence #2)
Staff: Mark Malleson on Mike 1, Dave Ellifrit on Orcinus
Pods: K pod
Location Descr: Trial Island
Start Latitude: 48 22.8
Start Longitude: 123 20.7
End Latitude: 48 28.6
End Longitude: 123 12.3
While Mark was at Gonzales lookout to spot for whales at 0930, he received a call from his friend Gord who had just spotted eastbound killer whales north of Constance Bank. Through Big Eyes, Gord felt they were a small group of Southern Resident killer whales. With J pod reported the day before exiting Active Pass northbound into the Strait of Georgia, perhaps some K's or L's were coming in.
Mark made his way downtown and powered up Mike 1 at the entrance to Victoria harbor at 1011 and at 1016 spotted them ~1 nm south of Clover Point (48 22.8/123 20.7) headed for the southern tip of Trial Island. At first glance, Mark figured they were a group of 8 or 9 Biggs from a distance, but once he was abeam of them, he immediately could see they were Southern Resident killer whales. The lead group consisted of 3 animals, K20, K34, and K38. Less than 1/4 nm behind was another group of 6 animals, K14, K26, K27, K36, K42, and K44. With great spotting conditions and confirmation from Gord on Big Eyes, it appeared that only the nine individuals, the K13's and K14's, in the area.
Once the lead group got to Staynes Point, the southern tip of Trial Island, they turned around the corner of the island, getting out of the main ebb current, which allowed the others to catch up. The group then proceeded across the Oak Bay Flats towards Discovery Island and worked into the shoreline along the kelp line as they approached Seabird Point lighthouse. They became quite animated, as if they were flushing out salmon from the kelp bed with several tail lobs and a breach from K27. The large aggregation of Steller sea lions that have been wintering here the last few years seemed startled and extremely riled up as many of them in the water started porpoising along the shoreline as the K's approached. These stellers then grouped up, and the rest that were still hauled out on Brinn Rock anxiously watched them swim past.
From Seabird Point, the K12's and K13's worked their way northwest up the middle of Haro Strait on a line between Kelp Reef and Kellett Bluff, and Mark ended the encounter at 1243 at 48 28.6/123 12.3 (~1.5 nm NW of Beaumont Shoals).
Dave went out later in "Orcinus" and had a brief encounter with the K13's and K14's from 1420 to 1440 off Mitchell Bay. The whales were traveling quickly up mid-Haro Strait near the border in a tight group and taking lengthy long dives.