2021 Encounters

Encounter #15 - March 29, 2021
T36A and T49A

T36A and T49A

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T49A1

T49A1

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T36As and T49As

T36As and T49As

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T10C

T10C

©Center for Whale Research 2021

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T49A1

T49A1

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T10

T10

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T10C

T10C

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T68B1

T68B1

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T63

T63

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T63

T63

©Center for Whale Research 2021

T49A1

T49A1

©Center for Whale Research 2021

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Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

EncDate: 29/03/21

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 15

ObservBegin: 01:29 PM

ObservEnd: 03:03 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers: Katie Jones

Pods: Transients

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 33.21

Start Longitude: 123 12.43

End Latitude: 48 39.56

End Longitude: 123 11.87

EncSummary:

Dave was working in the CWR photo-ID office when he heard a report on the radio of a group of whales sighted off the County Park. He ran down to the deck of the main house with the spotting scope and began scanning for fins. “J2” came in to view at this time and headed to a spot where the whales should have been. Sure enough, dorsal fins soon appeared way out in the middle of Haro Strait in line with Johnstone Reef and looking like they were just over the Canadian side of the line. It was a large loose group that looked like it could very well be J pod coming across the strait. The whales were too far away with just enough haze to be able to identify them. Dave headed back up to the ID office and got on the radio with Jeff on “J2” and found out that the whales were a large group of transients including the T10s and T63-a popular whale known around here as “Chainsaw” due to two large nicks in his dorsal fin. Dave then called Katie and they met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 1310.
As we headed out of Mitchell Bay, “J2” informed us the whales had crossed the border and were heading north. Perfect. We soon saw the whales and the encounter began at 1329 off CWR-just barely on the US side of the border. The whales were still heading quickly north toward Henry Island in loosely spread groups. Our first pass was a semi-backlit one with a lot of whales coming up at once. We saw some hints of the T49As and T71s as they passed. “Chainsaw” is also easy to pick out of a crowd. He seemed to be in a group that included several young males slightly behind the others. By the time we got to the good light side, the groups began splitting up and many whales started traveling quickly toward Open Bay. Most of the T71s and a few others took a more northwesterly route perilously close to the border so we decided to go for the whales safely on the US side. Those whales were well on their way to Henry Island and, due to a breeze and their speed, were leaving us in the dust. T71C left whatever whales he (?) had been with and crossed our bow on the way back to the T71s. We then got a good pass on the T10s and T65 who were trailing the other groups heading toward Henry. There was a nasty tidal chop near Kellett Bluff so we decided to go around it and try to catch up to the lead group who were plastered to the rocks near north Kellett.
About twenty minutes later, we were starting to make an approach on the lead group of females and offspring as they neared Battleship Island when they went on a long dive and came up spread out and pointed back south. They then went on another long dive and pulled a vanishing act. We putted toward other whales who had also spread out while keeping an eye out for the group we hadn’t gotten a good look at yet. T49A1 passed us heading quickly north in the direction the lead group of whales had originally been traveling before they began milling. We had one more quick pass with the T10s, T63, and T65 while they traveled north-northwest near the border before heading off to look for the lead group again. We eventually found them at 1445 off the west end of Spieden Island. This was the T36As and the T49As (minus T49A2 and T49A3 who were not present today) in a tight group. T49A1 had joined them and they had finally slowed down as they traveled past the entrance to Reid Harbor and along the Stuart Island shoreline. We ended the encounter at 1503 about a half mile southeast of Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island. Once we got home and looked at our photos we realized that T68B1 and T68B1A were also mixed in with the T71s. These two brought the total number of whales photographed this day to 21 from the T10, T36A, T49A, T65, T68B1, and T71 groups.