2021 Encounters

Encounter #45 - July 1, 2021
K26

K26

Photo by Michael Weiss

K37

K37

Photo by Michael Weiss

K22 and K33

K22 and K33

Photo by Michael Weiss

K12

K12

Photo by Michael Weiss

K26

K26

Photo by Katie Jones

K42

K42

Photo by Katie Jones

Photo by Katie Jones

K26's new nicks

K26's new nicks

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K34

K34

Photo by Katie Jones

K20

K20

Photo by Katie Jones

help
CAN
we
TOGETHER

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

EncDate: 01/07/21

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 45

ObservBegin: 10:50 AM

ObservEnd: 05:07 AM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit, Michael Weiss

Other Observers: Katie Jones

Pods: K

LocationDescr: Rosario Strait, Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 26.48

Start Longitude: 122 47.46

End Latitude: 48 27.75

End Longitude: 123 03.13

EncSummary:

On June 29th, Jared Towers forwarded a photo to us that he had received of a group of killer whales heading east in Johnstone Strait around 1400. One whale had an open saddle and looked like it was probably K22. This, of course, got everyone down here excited that we would probably have southern residents within 48 hours. SRs used to take three to four days to make their way down from Johnstone Strait but are now not stopping much to forage on the way. Lots of people were up early on the morning of July 1st in anticipation of SRs showing up. The SR3 Drone team was off the dock first and made it up to the East Point area to wait for any whales coming down. Michael and Dave were both over at CWR before 0845 and eventually made a plan to go help in the search. While we were loading up in the driveway, Katie called to relay a sighting of whales heading south near Thatcher Pass from our friend Traci Walter who was on the morning ferry. Traci said it looked like a good group of whales and could very well be residents. This changed our plan of heading up toward Alden Bank and we ended up headed down the west side of SJI instead after leaving Snug Harbor at 0945. Haro Strait was fairly sloppy until around False Bay which slowed our progress but it then smoothed out. The day ended up being calm but there was an annoying leftover lump that had us all still rocking when we got home later. We made it on scene at the south end of Rosario Strait by 1050 about mid-strait off Watmough Head.
The whales were very spread out and foraging. The first whales we saw were K12 and K37 who were spread by a couple of hundred yards and pointed southeast. A third whale was in the area but slipped away. After looking at photos later, this third animal turned out to be K38. The next whale we saw was K20 and then K38 also showed up in the general area. The whales turned east past Lawson Reef toward Deception Pass. We could tell that there were others over nearer to Deception Island but they were too far away to keep track of. We saw K33 pointed southwest about a mile and a half southwest of West Point on Whidbey Island. K22 showed up and briefly joined K33 before they spread out again and began to head west. After a little searching, we then spotted a lone sprouter about a mile to the north of us. This turned out to be K42 and he was charging west in that annoying calm lump. K42’s dorsal fin had grown significantly since we last saw him about seven months earlier.
By 1300, all the whales were heading quickly west spread out from near the south Lopez Island shoreline to several miles offshore. We found K27 and K44 spread by about 75 yards charging west. Then we found K22, K33, and K37 again all roughly paralleling each other with several hundred yards between them. After that, we saw K20 and K38 again-also spread. K34 was the whale furthest offshore-a good three to four miles off of Iceberg Point. The whales turned northwest and began heading up San Juan Island off South Beach.
>From the whales we had been seeing, we knew we had the K12, K13, and K14 matrilines present. While we felt confident at that point that the K16s and K21 were not present, we still needed to find the rest of the K14s and K43. We eventually spotted K26 off the flagpole at American Camp. He was also charging up island but then found a fish and stopped to give chase. We briefly saw K14 and K36 inshore up closer to Eagle Point. We then had a couple of backlit whales speed past us heading north. This was K43 and K44 and they started milling too. K26 approached from the south and goosed K43 as she did a big spyhop. He then headed north in a straight line and we were able to get some good shots of him. K26 has three new nicks in the top half of his dorsal fin. We also got a few more shots of K14, K36, and K44 as they moved up towards Hannah Heights. Around 1610, several whales turned due south and began heading offshore. We turned around too and briefly saw K20 and K36 again before we decided to head back inshore one more time. There were a few whales moving slowly down island just south of False Bay. We saw K33 again and then K12 and K37 behind him. K12 looked like she might have been chasing a salmon before she continued slowly southeast about a mile northwest of Eagle Point. We ended the encounter there at 1707 after K12 arched and gave us a nice right side shot.