2021 Encounters

Encounter #41 - June 16, 2021
T46B6 tail wave

T46B6 tail wave

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B6

T46B6

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Turn Island light

Turn Island light

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B6 and T46B4

T46B6 and T46B4

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B3

T46B3

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B4

T46B4

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B2

T46B2

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B2

T46B2

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46B4 and T46B

T46B4 and T46B

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

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Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

EncDate: 16/06/21

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 41

ObservBegin: 08:15 AM

ObservEnd: 09:00 AM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit, Michael Weiss

Pods: Transients

LocationDescr: Turn Island

Start Latitude: 48 31.83

Start Longitude: 122 57.60

End Latitude: 48 31.67

End Longitude: 122 57.58

EncSummary:

Michael called Dave to relay an early morning report of a group of killer whales heading down San Juan Channel. It was reported to be a group of twelve animals so we decided to go see who they were. We headed down to Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 0740. We were passing Friday Harbor when Michael spotted whales off the east side of Turn Island. The whales were milling and the encounter began at 0815. The first two whales we saw were T46B2 and T46B3 and they were circling and diving in the same general area. They went down on a long dive and then T46B, T46B4, and T46B6 came up and began circling and milling in the same area as the other two. It was obvious that the whales had a seal pinned on the bottom and were taking turns waiting it out. While she was up for her short dives, T46B6 came over to the boat (shutdown) once to check us out. The trio went on their long dive and then T46B2 and T46B3 came up again. While they were up, T46B2 and T46B3 also came over to the boat to check us out. T46B2 surfaced slowly right alongside the boat and she seemed to be a very big whale and was extremely round around the middle. At age 13, she is likely to be pregnant. These two went down again and the other three began surfacing. While they were up, T46B6 appeared to get bored and she began doing tail waves.
Around 0840, the whales began heading west toward the Turn Island shoreline like they may have been shadowing a seal making a break for it. We never saw the seal, though. All the whales went on a long dive and they came up near the reef on the north side of Turn Island. The whales then moved right back to where they were milling before and continued milling again off the east side of Turn Island. The whales were still milling off the east side of Turn Island when we ended the encounter at 0900. We were just a little disappointed that we only had the T46Bs but it was a gorgeous morning so we decided to head down SJ Channel and go on a whale search. We headed out Cattle Pass and did a big loop around Hein Bank before heading back toward San Juan Island but did not see any more whales. We met up with “Moja” off False Bay and Michael switched boats in order to fly the drone over the T46Bs for his behavior study and to help look for whale poop. Dave headed to the fuel dock and then went home. Later in the day, T46B1 and T46B1A showed up and joined the rest of the T46Bs who had headed south in SJ Channel and had exited Cattle Pass earlier. These seven whales headed up the west side of San Juan Island. Dave watched from shore as the whales chased some harbor porpoise off Edwards Point before continuing north past Landbank by mid-afternoon.

NotesComments: