2021 Encounters

Encounter #8 - Feb 17, 2021
L86 and L125

L86 and L125

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L86 and L125

L86 and L125

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L86, L125, and L106.

L86, L125, and L106.

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

K34

K34

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J26 and J42

J26 and J42

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Katie Jones ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Katie Jones ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Katie Jones ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Katie Jones ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Katie Jones ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J46 and J53

J46 and J53

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L106

L106

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L125 and L86

L125 and L86

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L106 and L86

L106 and L86

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L106

L106

Photo by Dave Ellifrit ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L86, L125, L106

L86, L125, L106

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L86, L125

L86, L125

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L72

L72

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L87

L87

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L118, L123

L118, L123

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L86, L125

L86, L125

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L55

L55

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J39

J39

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J38, L105

J38, L105

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J27

J27

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J26

J26

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

L105

L105

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

J47

J47

Photo by Mark Malleson ©Center for Whale Research 2021

EncDate: 17/02/21

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 08

ObservBegin: 10:14 AM

ObservEnd: 11:13 AM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers: Katie Jones

Pods: J, K, L

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 39.39

Start Longitude: 123 12.93

End Latitude: 48 41.88

End Longitude: 123 14.91

EncSummary:

Jane Cogan called Dave at 0655 to report that they were hearing SR calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophone. Dave then called Katie so she could get ready for a potential encounter. Also, Dave’s car was still stuck in his driveway due to piled icy snow from last weekend’s snowy weather. So, if any encounter was going to happen, Dave needed a ride. Mark later called to say he and Joe were heading out on the Canadian side. A little before 0900, Jane reported that she had spread out whales trickling by their place. Dave called Katie again and she came and picked him up and they headed to Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 0945.
We got word from the SR3 drone team that the trailers had rounded Kellett Bluff about 30 minutes previously. It was sunny but breezy and Haro Strait was pretty lumpy but we were already out so we decided to try to catch up to the whales. We slogged our way through 2-3 footers in a boat whose deck was covered in ice and snow as we headed in the direction of Turn Point. Mark and Joe were also bouncing their way up the Canadian side of Haro Strait just a little ahead of us.
We finally saw our first whales right after Mark, who had better sighting lighting from his angle, told us they were just ahead of us. The encounter started at 1014 about a half mile south of Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island. We saw several peripheral singles and pairs and a larger group inshore. K34 was the first whale we got a good look at and he was traveling with a sprouter who turned out to be L109. We moved in toward the large which was getting larger as some of the peripheral whales joined it. This large group consisted of the bulk of J pod along with all of the L4s and L87. J27 and L87 were part of the group furthest from the boat and those two were taking long dives and not surfacing as much as the others. The J16s were the closest whales and they were doing a good job of running photographic screen for the animals on the other side of them. Due to some back lighting along a dark shoreline and the J16s constantly coming up perfectly in the way of everyone else, it was hard to get an idea of who all exactly was in the group. Oh, and did we mention that we had choppy seas and a boat with a deck covered in ice? We were seeing young calves but it was hard to tell who the mothers were as saddles disappeared behind swells. We were convinced that both J57 and J58 were present but-who was that other calf? We finally got a decent look at it and its mother and it was definitely a new calf coming up next to L86. The calf had a much larger left eyepatch than both J57 and J58. J57 and J58 actually looked larger than the third calf and they are both going through a stage that all young calves go through when their skin has a very mottled appearance. You could still see fetal folds on the new calf and it had a closed saddle with a small finger on the left side. The new calf had filled out some and we estimate its age to be between a month and a month and a half old. L106 was also in close attendance with his mom and new sibling. Interestingly, it was J44 and J47 who were closest to the L86s but they seemed like they may have been more interested in L106 than the new calf. The whales filed past Turn Point around 1055 and entered an even chunkier tide rip in the intersection of Haro Strait and Boundary Pass. L86 and her new calf L125 disappeared in the slop and we ended the encounter at 1013 right near the border with a tight, rolling group consisting of J46, J53, J56, J57, and J58. The whales kept heading north toward Swanson Channel and Mark and Joe continued on the Sequence 2 part of the encounter.

EncDate: 17/02/21

EncSeq: 2

Enc#: 8

ObservBegin: 10:18 AM

ObservEnd: 01:35 PM

Vessel: Mike 1

Staff : Mark Malleson

Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro

Pods: J, K, L

LocationDescr: North Pender Island

Start Latitude: 48 39.9

Start Longitude: 123 15.6

End Latitude: 48 48.4

End Longitude: 123 19.7

EncSummary:

Mark and Joe hit the water in Victoria just after 0900 to join Dave in north Haro Strait with a large group of Southern Resident killer whales that had initially been heard on hydrophones around dawn. They travelled north in Haro Strait until they spotted many scattered, small blows along the Stuart Island shoreline and to the south. As Dave was arriving on scene, Mark and Joe decided to slog their way north through some uncomfortable seas, hoping for lee while they waited for the northbound whales to cross into Canadian waters. They found some calm seas to the northwest of Turn Point and waited for some action. All of the animals were moving quickly and whether they chose to go north or east from Turn Point, they would soon be nearing Canadian shores.
The first animals to reach Swanson Channel were J38 and J22 and Mark and Joe began their encounter sequence at 1018 at 48 39.9/123 15.6. They were steaming north at a good pace, along with J39 and a couple of the K13s, K20 and K44. More animals were spread east toward the Pender Bluffs, so Mark and Joe picked their way carefully that way.
A large group quickly arrived from the south, slightly offshore, so the Mike 1 crew zigged that way. This group turned out to be a mix of Js and most of the L55s! The five L55s that were most recently encountered by researchers in January in Johnstone Strait - and later that week seen from shore heading southwest from Hannah Heights, San Juan Island - have apparently rejoined the rest of the 18 Ls (and L87) that they are more often associated with. The group milled in place for a few moments, before also turning north. Letting these animals pass, Mark and Joe were next met by a group of five Js and Ls, also northbound tight together. J38 and L105 towered next to J47, L115 and L118. As Mike 1 maneuvered inshore to stay clear of the group, Mark spotted what they had been hoping for…L106 and L86 alongside the newest Southern Resident L125! The trio was working north along the beach, and eventually met the rest just meters off Mouat Point, North Pender Island. All then surged north for Active Pass, dazzling many shore base viewers as they went. Mike 1 ended the encounter at 1335 (48 48.4/123 19.7) and made way for Victoria.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388