2021 Encounters

Encounter #71 - Sept 12, 2021
K14s and K16s

K14s and K16s

Photo by Michael Weiss

J41

J41

Photo by Michael Weiss

J57

J57

Photo by Michael Weiss

L91, L122, and L72

L91, L122, and L72

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L72 and L105

L72 and L105

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K35, K26, and K42

K35, K26, and K42

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J41 and J19

J41 and J19

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J58

J58

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K34 chasing salmon

K34 chasing salmon

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K34 chasing salmon

K34 chasing salmon

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L105

L105

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K33

K33

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

help
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TOGETHER

EncDate: 12/09/21

Enc#: 71

ObservBegin: 12:21 PM

ObservEnd: 05:54 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit, Michael Weiss

Other Observers: Charli Grimes

Pods: J, K, L

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 30.57

Start Longitude: 123 09.20

End Latitude: 48 26.05

End Longitude: 123 02.26

EncSummary:

Reports of southern residents on the west side of San Juan Island had been coming in all morning. Since the whales were acting like they were going to stick around for the day, the team let the morning drippy-ness clear off before meeting at Snug Harbor. We left in the boat at 1204 and got on scene about a half mile southwest of Lime Kiln. The encounter began there at 1221.
The whales were very spread out from Edwards Point to south of Eagle Point and were all generally heading down island. We saw J27 and one or two others spread out foraging inshore off Edwards Point. Offshore of them, we found L83 traveling south by herself. Near Pile Point, we found K33 while J45 was inshore of him and closer to the rocks. J31 and J56 passed us on the sunny side of the boat and offshore of those two we found J44 and L110 traveling together off False Bay. L83 joined them briefly before moving off and traveling by herself again about a hundred yards ahead of them. We then moved inshore towards Eagle Point where we had seen some whales, getting a few photos of J45 traveling by himself along the way. The whales foraging near Eagle Point included J16, J42, J51, and L105 and they were spread out and coming up irregularly as they searched for fish. L105 then started traveling quickly east past American Camp when he stopped short and began milling like he found a salmon. Offshore of him we found the J41s and J46 loosely spread out and actively foraging. J53, J35, and J57 were also in the general area. Offshore of South Beach we found L90 and K34 also actively chasing fish. L90 was in the middle of chasing her fish when K34 came over to help briefly. L90 was still milling when K34 moved offshore a small ways and found a fish of his own. K34 was active and splashy in his fish chase and made a few contortionist moves before he apparently caught his fish and began moving southeast. To the southwest of K34, we found the J19s traveling south toward Hein Bank at a good clip in a tight group. J51 and J58 were a bit feisty and charged out a little ahead of J19 and J41 and did a double cartwheel together. The whales were still very spread out and we were having a hard time finding whales we hadn’t already seen. The whales we could see in the distance were whales we had thought we had got photos of and most of them were heading due south toward Hein Bank. We moved back north a little and briefly saw J31 and J56 again as well as J44 and L110 still traveling rambunctiously together. We briefly saw and got a nice arch out of J26 plus a passing backlit shot of J42 before going on a search around 1530 to find the whales we hadn’t been seeing.
There had been a group of transients (reported to be the T65As and T65Bs) moving up from the Eastern Bank area all day. The boats going back and forth between them and Cattle Pass had reported seeing a large tight group of southern residents somewhere south of Cattle Point heading in the direction of the transients. We were several miles southeast of the other residents who were in the north Hein Bank area when we found a group of three that turned out to be the J22s and J40. These three were non-directional and acting kind of furtively so we left them to find the larger group the boats kept talking about. The boats watching the transients had reported that the residents had suddenly shown up in amidst the socializing transients. The transients then dove and came up a distance away porpoising east. The residents stayed and milled in the same area where the incident happened. We arrived on scene not long after at 1625 in time to see the now distant transients porpoising off and the milling residents form up and start heading north. The whales in the group were the K14s and K16s (the K3s when they are together) along with the L72s, L91s, and L90. The group soon split into two with the K3s moving about 300 or so yards to the east of the five Ls. Both groups traveled slowly north toward the north Hein Bank marker where other groups of whales were forming. We got good shots of the Ls first and then the K3s as they headed toward the other whales. If there had been any sort of a physical confrontation with the transients, the residents showed no obvious fresh rake marks that we could see. Both groups eventually joined an even larger group that was milling in the area near the north end of Hein Bank. This group started heading slowly north back toward San Juan Island. The large group seemed to have all of J pod, the K13s, K14s, K16s, L47s, L72s, and L90 in it when we first saw it. However, the Ks and Ls quickly vanished out of the group and we had just J pod in a single tight group heading north at a medium speed. We ended the photo-ID portion of our encounter at 1754 a little north of Hein Bank. Michael and Charli wanted to get a drone flight over J pod so we put ourselves where we wanted to be and got set up for that. Michael got nearly a full flight’s worth of footage of the Js before we called ourselves happy with the day. We left J pod about two miles south of the flag pole at American Camp still heading north toward San Juan Island.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388