Encounter #9 - Feb 20, 2021
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
ObservBegin: 08:52 AM
ObservEnd: 11:03 PM
Vessel: Mike 1
Staff: Mark Malleson
Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro
LocationDescr: Victoria waterfront
Start Latitude: 48 22.5
Start Longitude: 123 20.7
End Latitude: 48 18.5
End Longitude: 123 32.2
Late in the afternoon on February 19th, Southern Resident killer whales were seen heading down the Strait of Georgia from the shores of Gabriola Island, B.C.
Mark received a message from Jane Cogan at 0610 the following morning that she heard faint SRKW calls on her private hydrophone.
At 745, Mark spotted a breach south of Great Chain Island from his living room window and confirmed with binoculars a bull killer whale on its second breach along with others quickly westbound in the Oak Bay Flats.
Mark got a hold of Joe to get in gear, and they left Victoria harbour on Mike 1 at 0840.
They saw their first whales ~ one nautical mile east of the VH buoy on the Victoria waterfront still plowing quickly west through the building seas. The encounter began at 0852 at 48 22.5/123 20.7, with L55 leading the charge. The whales were spread both north and south of her; L105 was the next whale seen, traveling near L72 and L123. The seas were 3' and with 25 knots of headwind, it made for challenging photo identification.
Mike 1 continued to slog its way west, tracking the animals as they made their way towards distant flatter water in the lee of Parry Bay between Albert Head and William Head.
The next pair of whales that Mark and Joe spotted simultaneously was L86 and her new calf, L125! They were racing quickly westward, and L125 appeared to have no trouble keeping up with his/her porpoising mother. The pair joined up with L55, L90, and several members of the L47 matriline just as L72 and L105 also arrived.
By this point, both Mark and Joe were fairly confident that only the sub-group of L's that they and Dave had encountered with the J's and K's two days prior (see Encounter #08) were present. Sure enough, reports of J's and K's heading south in San Juan Channel a few minutes later confirmed their suspicion.
The western whales shortly slowed down and spread out as they neared Parry Bay, and William Head and the Mike 1 crew were able to add L82 and L87 to their census for the day. The animals picked up the pace once more as they passed Pedder Bay and powered into the 6' seas in Race Pass as they rocketed west with the building ebb current.
Mark and Joe ended the encounter at 1103 at 48 18.5/123 32.2 and put their stern to the huge seas while they watched the last of the L's clear the Pass and head out the Juan de Fuca Strait.