Encounter #72 - Dec 23, 2020
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
ObservBegin: 01:46 PM
ObservEnd: 01:55 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro
Location Descr: South east of Constance Bank
Start Latitude: 48 19.8
Start Longitude: 123 17.4
End Latitude: 48 19.4
End Longitude: 123 17.0
At 1343 Mike 1 was cruising east attempting to acquire a group of killer whales that had been spotted from Victoria when Joe spotted a blow and single male dorsal fin a little over a mile south of them. As Mark turned, a tight group of roughly ten animals appeared halfway between the bull and the boat, so they began the encounter at 1345 (48 19.8/123 17.4)
Even from a distance the sharp, roughed-up dorsal fins gave away the group as a motely crew of Bigg’s killer whales! The group was comprised of T036, her daughter T036B and her own youngsters, T075B and hers, T137 and a couple of oddballs, T036A1 and T037A1. T037A1 has been travelling with the T036 and T137 group in recent weeks, both in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, though T036A1 joining them was news to Mark and Joe. They wondered if perhaps others were around, though none were seen. They spent just two sequences with the group, enough to identify all eleven animals present and assess the behaviour given their proximity to the incoming J and K pod whales. Several changes of direction were observed, but the no predation occurred and the whales seemed more indifferent than anything else as they lazily moved east.
The male was still surfacing south-southwest of the group, but making way for them. Mark and Joe had a hunch as to his identity, and as they approached were able to confirm it was indeed T137A. T137B and T137D have departed their natal group for the moment, travelling with the T035A and T038A group since late September of this year, and were not present in today’s encounter.
They ended the encounter at 1355 (48 19.4/123 17.0) with the whales moving slowly east, but not with great intention. After a final scan south for any others, the Mike 1 crew made way for Victoria.
See Encounter #71 for an encounter with J and K pod en route to Victoria.