2021 Encounters

Encounter #94 - Dec 27, 2021
Ls

Ls

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L125, L86

L125, L86

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L125

L125

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L125, L86

L125, L86

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L118, L86

L118, L86

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L115, L123, L103, L125, L86

L115, L123, L103, L125, L86

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L115

L115

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L105

L105

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L106, L87

L106, L87

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L105

L105

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L91, L122, L115

L91, L122, L115

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L87

L87

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L87

L87

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L83

L83

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L82

L82

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

L72

L72

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

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CAN
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TOGETHER

EncDate:  27/12/21

EncSeq:   1

Enc#:   94

ObservBegin :  11:10 AM

ObservEnd:   01:48 PM

Vessel:   Mike 1

Staff :  Mark Malleson

Other Observers :  Joe Zelwietro

Pods:   L

LocationDescr:   Victoria waterfront

Start Latitude :  48 23.54

Start Longitude :  123 25.68

End Latitude:   48 18.58

End Longitude:   123 29.81

EncSummary:   

Double-digit negative temperatures couldn’t keep Mark and Joe ashore, as they departed an icy Victoria just after 1100 to follow up a shore sighting from earlier in the morning. They shortly came upon a few scattered killer whales to the northwest of VH buoy just outside the harbour and began the encounter at 1115. The morning info placed the whales just meters off the beach along the Victoria waterfront, and after initially spotting only a single bull, they were thinking “Bigg’s.” Several more suddenly appeared, and with the large spread and erratic swimming patterns, they realized that they had stumbled into Southern Residents!
The first animal photographed was L82, but she quickly dove and was not seen again until much later in the encounter. The first few whales that the crew were finally able to lock on to were recognized as L72 and L105! L pod had not been sighted in the Salish Sea since early November when Dave encountered them in San Juan Channel (see Encounter #86). The other whales in the area were well spread and multi-directional in travel, making identification difficult. The group as a whole would disappear for several minutes at a time, presumably diving quite deep for winter chinook, which tends to be much nearer the bottom than their spring/summer counterparts in this area.
After around 45 minutes of trying to identify several juveniles and females with little success, the animals all suddenly aimed into the Royal Roads anchorages, where a small group was starting to form. L86s and L87 were joined by L91 and her youngster, L122, and they turned south with some L55s. Another group - L105, L72, and others - had formed just over a mile to the south, and only L82 remained on the periphery, well inshore of the rest, though every whale was now southwest bound toward William Head or Race Pass.
The two large groups travelled south for several breathing cycles until the northern one that Mike 1 was with briefly broke up to forage as they approached William Head. Several apparently unsuccessful lunges from L82 and L83 were observed, but shortly she and the other scattered whales reformed a tight group raced southeast to rejoin the once distant group that they had now overtaken. The two groups met at 1330 and swam steadily south toward Port Angeles, not giving away their afternoon plan. Mike 1 ended the encounter northeast of Race Rocks at 1347 and headed for the warmth of home, having confirmed each of the 19 killer whales making up this sub-group of L pod, including the youngest Southern Resident, L125, and the eldest male, L87.
Of note, Mark received a video from the early morning shore sighting when Mike 1 was inbound for the harbour, and it seemed to confirm that a second group of whales had been present, likely Bigg’s.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388