Encounter #75 - Dec 31, 2020
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
ObservBegin: 12:49 PM
ObservEnd: 03:39 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro
LocationDescr: south of Constance Bank
Mark and Joe departed Victoria harbour at 1210 and were met by a foraging humpback approximately three miles south of the harbour mouth. It has become increasingly common to find humpbacks throughout the Salish Sea in winter months, to the point that they are now seen every month of the year.
While photo-identifying the individual, shore-spotting colleague Gord Rowles sighted a single male dorsal fin to the south of Constance Bank. Mark and Joe easily locked on to the animal in mirror-like seas as they neared the area. He was surfacing unpredictably, showing three different headings before diving for approximately eight minutes. When the animal reappeared Mark quickly recognized him as T227 (formerly U039), an outer-coastal wanderer that he has encountered every few years since the mid-2000s. The elusive bull was foraging for the duration of the encounter, but no predation was observed.
Earlier, on approach to T227, a group of animals had been spotted southeast of him travelling east. Though no obvious interaction was observed, T227 appeared to have been shadowing them before pausing to forage; he had been observed doing this with another group on November 11th as well, the last time he was encountered. Mark and Joe departed T227 at 1358 in search of these animals.
The group had continued east, and Mike 1 caught up with them well east of T227, still travelling quickly. They were identified as the T073A and T167 matrilines, two families of four that are far more common in SE Alaska than the coastal waters of BC and Washington. The T167s in fact have only been observed in BC coastal waters five times ever! The encounter was short but sweet, as the animals were moving quickly in a tight formation. After collecting a sequence each of left- and right-side identification photos, Mark and Joe left the animals still eastbound aiming at a distant Smith or Whidbey Island.