Encounter #4 - Jan 19, 2021
ObservBegin: 10:59 AM
ObservEnd: 12:10 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro
LocationDescr: Trial Island
Start Latitude: 48 22.8
Start Longitude: 123 17.1
End Latitude: 48 21.3
End Longitude: 123 10.8
Mark received a call at 0947 from colleague Brenden Kelly, who had spotted several killer whales from shore on Victoria’s waterfront. The animals were apparently working their way east across Constance Bank so Mark and Joe quickly got in gear and departed the harbour on Mike 1 at 1040.
They aimed southeast of Trial Island and before long picked up two distinct male dorsal fins on the horizon, along with a couple more blows between them. They slowed and began the encounter at 1059 (48 22.8/123 17.1). From a distance, based on the group composition and time of year, Mark and Joe had hopes that the animals would be the T085s. As they approached the southernmost killer whale, they were able to confirm T085A! While rare in the Salish Sea, when the T085s do make an appearance it tends to be around mid-late January.
The animals were spread in a loose north-south line, travelling ESE. T085A was the first whale encountered; the 29-year-old bull was roughly .5 nautical mile south of T085 and her youngest, T085D. These two were travelling close together but difficult to confirm as they zig-zagged E to SE and were taking as few as three breaths before a five- or six-minute dive. After collecting identification shots of them, the Mike 1 team moved on to confirm T085B, the second mature bull in the group. He was another half mile north of the pair, but had a lot more south in his stride and eventually met his mother and younger sibling as all four animals reached the border northeast of the ODAS buoy. All of the whales, including a lone T085A still well south of the rest, continued east as Mark and Joe ended the encounter at 1210 (48 21.3/123 10.8)). On their way out of Victoria they had spotted several feeding humpbacks very near the harbour mouth, so headed that way hoping to identify some southbound migrants on their way to warmer waters and the breeding season.
T085C was not present during the encounter, nor was she present when CWR last encountered the T085 group in early 2019. At 15 or 16 years old it is possible that she has dispersed from the matriline.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388