2021 Encounters

Encounter #68 - Sept 9, 2021
K37

K37

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J38

J38

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Spyhop

Spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K26

K26

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Socializing whales

Socializing whales

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L105

L105

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L105

L105

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L116 and K44

L116 and K44

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K16 breach

K16 breach

Photo by Charli Grimes

K42

K42

Photo by Charli Grimes

Logging whales

Logging whales

Photo by Charli Grimes

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Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

EncDate: 09/09/21

EncSeq: 2

Enc#: 68

ObservBegin: 04:40 PM

ObservEnd: 07:19 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit, Michael Weiss

Other Observers: Charli Grimes

Pods: J, K, L

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 27.85

Start Longitude: 123 10.65

End Latitude: 48 38.24

End Longitude: 123 12.97

EncSummary:

We had been hearing occasional reports of resident killer whales coming in from off Sooke since mid-morning. J pod was thought to be in the Strait of Georgia and Mark Malleson had had an encounter with the L12s, L54s, and L88 off the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island (Encounter 67) that morning. Mark had K pod and the rest of the Ls the day before out there too and we were hoping this was who was coming in. When the whales got closer, Michael, Charli, and Dave met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 1615.
We got on scene at 1640 about halfway between Hannah Heights and Discovery Island a little over the Canadian border. Most of the whales were spread out in singles and small groups heading quickly north up Haro Strait. Some whales were porpoising and, except for grabbing some quick pics as some whales flew by us, we were left in the dust. We were forced to play catch up for the first part of the encounter but we did see enough whales to confirm to us that we had K pod and the Ls that Mark had out west the day before. Some whales had made it over to the American side and were closer to San Juan Island but many were on the Canadian side of the border heading up the Kelp Reef line. As we tried to keep up with the fast traveling whales, we had K44 and L116 pass us as they were traveling together. The L86s, including L86’s newest calf L125, porpoised by us backlit by the sun. We also saw the L103s. Since we weren’t keeping up with the whales moving up the western side of Haro Strait, we moved east toward SJI in hopes of having a better angle on whales heading up the other side of the strait. We saw L109 traveling by himself up mid-Haro looking wobbly and well sprouted. To the southeast of him, we found L55, L83, and K36 all spread out and heading up island. We saw a little group south and inshore of the spread out whales ahead of them. We got on this group as they were off Bellevue Pt. and it included the K16s and the L72s. The L91s were another couple of hundred yards inshore of the two pairs. Also in the area were K38 and L115 who were traveling rambunctiously together in Andrews Bay. As the whales on the east side of the strait rounded Kellett Bluff, many of them took a westerly course and traveled quickly in the direction of Gooch Island and the other whales on the west side of the strait. Earlier we had seen splashes way in the distance to the north and we had heard that J pod had been coming down Boundary Pass from East Point. We wondered if the whales on the far side of the strait were already meeting J pod whales so we headed over there to find out. There were several groups of whales milling and socializing in the Gooch Island area. We quickly identified some J pod whales mixed in with the Ks and Ls. The whales were behaving in a Superpod manner with tight groups of socializing whales spending lots of time at the surface. Several whales vocalized in the air. The whales continued socializing for the next hour that we were with them, mostly in the area just a little southwest of Gooch Island although there were a few small groups and individuals spread out to the eastern side of the strait. Some of the groups looked like they may have been heading south but there was still a lot of milling going on. We ended the encounter at 1919 mid-Haro Strait about halfway between Gooch and Spieden Islands with K37 and J47 traveling together as they followed J19 slowly south.

NotesComments: