2021 Encounters

Encounter #74 - Sept 15, 2021
Inverted tail lob

Inverted tail lob

Photo by Michael Weiss

L123

L123

Photo by Michael Weiss

L125 with L72, L82, and L83

L125 with L72, L82, and L83

Photo by Michael Weiss

K42

K42

Photo by Michael Weiss

K35

K35

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K37 and K12

K37 and K12

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L125, L82, and L83

L125, L82, and L83

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L115 and K38

L115 and K38

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L83 and L118

L83 and L118

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L118 and L125

L118 and L125

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K16 and K35

K16 and K35

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L82 spyhop

L82 spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

K14 and K26

K14 and K26

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Photo by Charli Grimes

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CAN
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TOGETHER

EncDate: 15/09/21

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 74

ObservBegin: 09:25 AM

ObservEnd: 12:36 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit, Michael Weiss

Other Observers: Charli Grimes

Pods: J, K, L

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 34.97

Start Longitude: 123 13.67

End Latitude: 48 42.11

End Longitude: 123 14.01

 

EncSummary:

J, K, and over half of L pod were off the west side of San Juan Island since the early morning. The team met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 0920. Charli had seen a group of five or so whales head north past the Center earlier.


We putted out into Mitchell Bay and immediately saw whales and the encounter started at 0925. The whales were very spread out and we saw one whale that was right off Smugglers Cove and another that looked like it was Canadian side of the Strait. There was a male about midway between the two and we went to him first. This was L87 and he was traveling north-northeast toward Open Bay. North of him we found J22 and K36 spread out and foraging off Kellett Bluff. We then headed to the northwest toward a group north of Halibut Island and saw J38 actively foraging by himself along the way. The group ended up being the K14s (minus K36) and the K16s. They were in a tight group and were pointed northeast when they went on their long dive. L91 and L122 were a couple hundred yards to the southwest of this group and went on their long dive soon after the K3s did. After a nine minute long dive, the K3s and the L91s all surfaced together about a half mile to the east-northeast of us heading slowly south in a tight group just a little north of Kellett Bluff. There were other whales spread out from the south end of Kellett Bluff to the other side of the strait still coming north. The L91s moved a little ahead of the K3s as they surfaced slowly pointing south. They all gave us a nice left side arch on their long dive and we moved to a new group rolling around about quarter mile to the north of us. This turned out to be most of the L55s-a group we were looking for to get better pictures of. We had L55, L109, L118, L103, and L123 and they were socializing and being tactile as they slowly headed south. They also gave us some nice lefts before their long dive. The L91s were a couple hundred yards to the west of the L55s. The L55s came up from their long dive still socializing but were now rolling in a more northerly direction. The K3s had moved several hundred yards offshore of the L55s with the L91s between them and all three groups were pointed slowly north. After a little while, L118 disappeared from the L55s and K42 joined them.

After getting some good right side shots on the L55s, we moved to a large group that was charging north about a half mile behind them. L118 had moved back to this group that also included J19, the J37s, L72s, L83s, L90, L82, L123, and L125. The J22s were also nearby. There was a lot of socializing going on in this group too. L123 and L125 were charging around and playing in amidst the other whales. Several of the other whales were occasionally rolling around or splashing too. L82 did a big spyhop next to the boat. A little after 1100, we left this group and moved a good three quarters of a mile north towards Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island and a whale we thought we hadn’t seen yet. This turned out to be K34 traveling by himself and he gave us a nice right side shot before his long dive. There were a few other spread out whales around in and one was K20. She also gave us a nice right side. About a hundred yards to the southwest of K20 was K38. One of the other single whales in the area was L115 traveling by himself. This was our third encounter in a row where we have photographed all the L47s except for L47 herself. We had heard that a DFO team had not been able to find her from their field work out in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca earlier in the Summer. Unfortunately, it is indeed looking like L47 is missing. K38 soon joined L115 and the two began traveling together. Most of the K3s were about three quarters of a mile offshore of this pair.

The large group that we had seen earlier, with a few additions like the rest of the J19s, J40, K27, and L106, was now porpoising north and catching up to the K3s. A loose group of whales coming up rowdily behind us in a tide rip was the L55s again-this time with L82 and L116. J35 and J57 surfaced in the middle of the L55s unexpectedly and vanished just as quickly. Some of the K12s were a couple hundred yards to the west of the L55s. Almost all the whales made their way over to the Stuart Island shoreline and headed northwest along it toward Turn Point. The K16s had stayed a little offshore and K35 chased a fish about a quarter mile northwest of Turn Point as the other whales were approaching it. The whale spread out in groups as they passed Turn Point but there was still a lot of milling and socializing going on. The Ks and Ls continued moving slowly north spread out in groups while the J pod whales quietly disappeared from the groups we were watching. We ended the encounter at 1236 about a mile north of Turn Point with the Ks and Ls heading north toward the Pender Bluffs. The whales back near Turn Point, who were mostly J pod whales, were milling and looking like they wanted to go back south. We headed home east into Boundary Pass and through Johns Pass before getting back to Snug Harbor around 1315. Dave got off the boat while Michael and Charli went back out to get some drone footage of J pod. They got some good stuff as J pod headed south along Henry Island and Andrews Bay during the afternoon.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388