2020 Encounters

Encounter #70 - Dec 22, 2020
J58

J58

©Center for Whale Research 2020

Play

Play

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J41, J58

J41, J58

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J38 lob

J38 lob

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J58

J58

©Center for Whale Research 2020

©Center for Whale Research 2020

Js, Ks

Js, Ks

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K42, K26

K42, K26

©Center for Whale Research 2020

K34

K34

©Center for Whale Research 2020

K27

K27

©Center for Whale Research 2020

K26, K36

K26, K36

©Center for Whale Research 2020

K26

K26

©Center for Whale Research 2020

K20

K20

©Center for Whale Research 2020

K14, K26

K14, K26

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J58

J58

©Center for Whale Research 2020

Js

Js

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J58

J58

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J57

J57

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J56

J56

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J41

J41

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J40, J27

J40, J27

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J38

J38

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J31, J56

J31, J56

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J26

J26

©Center for Whale Research 2020

J19

J19

©Center for Whale Research 2020

©Center for Whale Research 2020

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Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

EncDate:22/12/20

EncSeq:1

Enc#:70

ObservBegin: 10:48 AM

ObservEnd: 02:24 PM

Vessel: Mike 1

Staff: Mark Malleson

Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro

Pods: J, K

LocationDescr: Victor Hotel

Start Latitude: 48 20.0

Start Longitude: 123 25.1

End Latitude: 48 21.0

End Longitude: 123 24.6

 

EncSummary:

Mark received a report of killer whales from spotter extraordinaire Gord Rowles at 0909. After a week of stormy weather in the south Vancouver Island-Juan de Fuca region, he was ready to pounce! Mark had Joe Zelwietro meet him at Mike 1 and they departed the harbour at 1035. Initially spotted near Pedder Bay, NE of Race Rocks, Gord reported the whales as northeast bound for the Victoria waterfront. After stopping five minutes out of the harbour to photograph a westbound humpback, Mark spotted a single bull foraging his way north in the distance. They slowly made their way to him, the low winter sun illuminating more blows to the south and west. The encounter began at 1048 (48 20.0/123 25.1) with J27 working northward for the VH buoy. From there, Mark and Joe began carefully working through the spread out members of J pod. They next encountered J19 and J39 a few hundred meters ENE foraging solo. The whales seemed to be working as far east as a line south from the VH buoy before turning right around and heading back for Albert Head. No obvious success was observed, but several chases were, and there was certainly something keeping the animals on the spot! As far as Mark and Joe could ascertain, the spread was roughly two nautical miles north-south, and at least a mile and a half east-west. They spent a few minutes tracking J38 and J22, and then a quite playful J37 and young J49, who rolling on top of one another and vocalizing quite audibly at the surface. They eventually carried on, jetting off to the east in a blur.
After an hour of picking their way through only a handful of whales, they considered ending the encounter and hoping for more cooperative behaviour tomorrow. The whales were doing long foraging dives and members of each matriline but the J16s had been identified, including both late summer additions J57 and J58. Back toward Parry Bay was a pocket of three or four animals working some fish, well south of the main aggregation. Hoping for the missing whales the Mike 1 crew looped south and after an extended dive from what proved to be J16 and J42, there were suddenly six to seven animals converging just 200 m west of the shut-down vessel. Within moments it became apparent that all of the J pod animals were coming together! Patience had paid off, and Mark and Joe were pleasantly surprised to also spot K26 arriving with two others from the direction of Albert Head. No K pod whales had yet been spotted, but given the direction they were arriving from, it is possible they were foraging in Royal Roads, inshore of the Js. The animals met and milled around, briefly moving south, but shortly the 24 members of J pod split to form two distinct groups and move north, led by the J14s, J17s, J19s. The new arrivals from K pod turned out to be the nine whales comprising the K13 and K14 matrilines. They joined the lead group of Js, which now included J22 and J38, though J38 and a sprouting K42 fell back to bring up the rear. The J11s and J16s trailed by a couple hundred meters and took two or three sequences to catch up by 1415. The Mike 1 crew took advantage of the tight grouping to pick off their missing IDs before ending the encounter at 1424 (48 21.0/123 24.6), leaving the whales moving peacefully eastward but making little way.
* Evening reports from shore-based whale-watchers placed these animals westbound from south of Clover Point, pointing back in the direction of William Head. Perhaps they will be around tomorrow?

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