2021 Encounters

Encounter #96 - Dec 31, 2021
breach

breach

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T124A7, T124A

T124A7, T124A

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T124A4

T124A4

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T124A, T124A7, T075C

T124A, T124A7, T075C

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T124A

T124A

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T075C3, T075C, T124A

T075C3, T075C, T124A

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T075C3, T075C, T124A

T075C3, T075C, T124A

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T075B

T075B

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T068C3, T124A4

T068C3, T124A4

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

T068C

T068C

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

LM_JF1-25924

LM_JF1-25924

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

MLM_JF1-25994

MLM_JF1-25994

Copyright © 2021 Center for Whale Research

J58_20201222JAZ_JF1 (5).jpg
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CAN
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TOGETHER

EncDate: 31/12/21

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 96

ObservBegin: 04:14 PM

ObservEnd: 04:39 PM

Vessel: Mike 1

Staff: Mark Malleson

Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro

Pods: Transients

LocationDescr: South of Oak Bay Flats

Start Latitude: 48 21.6

Start Longitude: 123 15.6

End Latitude: 48 20.9

End Longitude: 123 17.3

EncSummary:

Mark and Joe departed Victoria at 1600 in fading daylight, but were hopeful for a short and sweet encounter to end 2021 with some Bigg’s killer whales off the Victoria waterfront. Mark had earlier found them east bound in the kelp bed at Trial Island while guiding a whale watch trip and watched them race past the Steller sealion haul out at Seabird Point, Discovery Island. A second group had recently been observed by George Hamilton, spotting from shore at Ten Mile Point lookout, that were porpoising south in Haro Strait on an intercepting course. With the help of Gord Rowles, spotting from his 23rd floor apartment “Crow’s Nest”, Mike 1 was able to locate the group within minutes of powering up at the entrance to Victoria harbour.
Mike 1 slowed at 1614 to begin the encounter with a group of whales that were milling on an apparent sealion ~4 nm SSW of Discovery Island. Shortly, the large Steller sea lion carcass rose to the surface, amidst the whales, who took turns revelling over their prize. As Mark and Joe arrived, they had observed two groups of whales, one milling and one southwest-bound for that milling group. In hindsight, they realized that the group arriving was an additional one to what Mark had observed on the waterfront earlier in the afternoon.
The original group of whales, the initiators of the sea lion predation, were identified as the T068Cs and the T124As. Both matriarchs had young animals in tow, T068C5 being born in late 2020 and young T124A7 having been observed for the first time last week off the north end of Vancouver Island by colleague Jared Towers of DFO’s Cetacean Research Program and Bay Cetology. With her 7th confirmed calf, T124A joins an elite but growing list of Bigg’s matriarchs to have given birth to at least seven offspring. T060 was the first known to do so in mid-2019, and T109A joined her in spring 2021.
The new group welcomed from Haro Strait proved to be sisters T075B and T075C with their offspring, including a very young calf travelling alongside T075C! The animal appeared just slightly younger than T124A7, with folds still clearly visible along the trailing edge of his/her dorsal fin, and it was glued to mom’s side. This youngster has been designated T075C3, and is her second in just over two years after T075C2 was first observed in late 2019! The rest of the animals were difficult to identify in evening light with their unpredictable surfacing while feeding, but as many as 17 were present if all those presumed are accounted for after a more thorough analysis. The whales were still milling around the sea lion and active as the last light faded and Mark and Joe ended the encounter at 1639 and headed for the dock.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388