Encounter #9 - Feb 25, 2020
Enc Date: 25/02/20
Enc Seq: 1
Observ Begin: 10:10 AM
Observ End: 01:00 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro
Location Descr: Race Rocks
Start Latitude: 48 22.0
Start Longitude: 123 23.8
End Latitude: 48 17.2
End Longitude: 123 34.6
Mark received a morning report of faint resident vocals heard on the Lime Kiln hydrophone that were thought to be J pod calls. He and Joe quickly mobilized Mike 1 and departed Victoria harbour at ~ 0940. With some helpful shore-based spotting from Gord Rowles they were able to head straight to a loose aggression of killer whales at the edge of Constance Bank south west bound. The encounter began at 1010 at 48 22.0 N/ 123 23.8 W as the two slowed for the first animal they spotted. Just south of the VH Buoy, they confirmed J27 followed by several juveniles and/or females with J37 among them.
Within a few hundred metres was J26, followed closely by J47, who looked like was picking up scraps from a snack, though no obvious predation was observed. The pair were soon joined by J35 and J27 and this group of four socialized for several minutes before they split up and J47 continued following J26 in his slipstream. Mark and Joe travelled roughly two miles SSE in search of two larger dorsal fins they had been tracking in the distance. As they closed in on the southern edge of the group, several females and the odd juvenile also appeared, J19 and J41 among them. J39 was nearby and with the clear winter light they decided that he was one of the two bulls seen from afar looking bigger than he is. At the same time, roughly .75 nm east they spotted J38 who they decided was the other bull had seen in the distance earlier.
After J38, J39 and a few others passed to the west, Mike 1 swept south of Race Rocks in search of several animals that had slipped between the young bulls and the ecological reserve. The ebb current was slowing, but the animals were moving west with good pace, averaging about 6 knots.
They then located J53 and J56 swimming alongside each other with J31 less than a quarter mile away offshore.
While J53 and J56 were frolicking in a tidal rip for close to 10 minutes J51 appeared and joined them. At one point they fanned out only to reconvene, milling in place for a couple of minutes as if they were prey sharing but no fish scraps or scales were observed.
The Mike 1 crew then worked their way to the north to confirm the identities of the trailers (J36, J35 and J44) and with the outflow winds picking up offshore, Mark and Joe ended the encounter at 1300 offshore of Church Rock (48 17.2/123 34.6). Representatives of each J pod matriline were confirmed. Notably absent was L87 though he was not confirmed with this group when they most recently entered the Juan de Fuca with K's on February 19th (Encounter #6) or in the Strait of Georgia with J's the following day (Encounter #7). Hopefully he is with K or L pod as he was in late November 2019 (see CWR Encounter #95).
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388