2022 Encounters

Encounter #4 - Jan 20, 2022
J44 inverted half breach

J44 inverted half breach

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L110 and L83

L110 and L83

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L86 and L125

L86 and L125

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J22

J22

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L105 surfing

L105 surfing

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J44 inverted half breach in front of Turn Point

J44 inverted half breach in front of Turn Point

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L87

L87

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L105

L105

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J44

J44

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L83. J22, and J38

L83. J22, and J38

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L83 and L110

L83 and L110

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J38, J22, and L83

J38, J22, and L83

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whales with freighter

whales with freighter

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J36 rainbow

J36 rainbow

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J57

J57

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L105

L105

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L109 and J22 disappearing behind swells

L109 and J22 disappearing behind swells

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

20210930KMJ_SJ1_3.jpg
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EncDate: 20/01/22 

EncSeq: 1

Enc#: 04

ObservBegin: 11:09 AM

ObservEnd: 12:43 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers: Kelley Balcomb-Bartok

Pods: J, L Pod

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 34.90

Start Longitude: 123 11.78

End Latitude: 48 41.29

End Longitude: 123 14,45

 

EncSummary:

Dave was getting ready to head over to the CWR office when Jane Cogan called to say that they were hearing J pod calls on their hydrophone. They were not hearing anything on the Lime Kiln hydrophone suggesting the whales were coming down from the north. The day was windy and there was a small craft advisory in the San Juans so, while it was not going to be a day to go out, there might be a chance to get some photos from shore. Dave arrived at CWR about a half hour later and he and Kelley went to the porch to see if any whales could be spotted. Haro Strait was pretty nasty looking-not necessarily death defying in the north part of Andrews Bay but sloppy enough to look like a good day to stay ashore. There were also a lot of logs out there. We finally saw some whales at least a mile offshore in the direction of D’Arcy Island and they looked to be milling or heading back north. We saw some more whales a little farther away in the same direction and suddenly there was good number of whales spread out in the same general area. The whales were too far away to ID but we saw at least two adult males plus a suspicious looking young sprouter that didn’t really look like J pod whale. The whales were definitely pointed back north and traveling with the seas. Reasoning that the water wasn’t THAT bad and might be better north of Kellett Bluff, Kelley and Dave decided to give it a try and go see if it was more than just J pod out there. We then headed down to Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 1100.

We headed west in Mitchell Bay and saw our first whales about a quarter mile south of Kellett Bluff. J26 was seen but not photographed. The water was not better north of CWR and we knew it was going to get worse as we got closer to the tidal slop near Kellett Bluff. Photography was put on hold for a few minutes while we followed the whales through the four foot standing waves at Kellett. The water got marginally better north of the bluff and we were able to catch up to the whales we had kept in sight. It was hard to stand up much less getting a good visual ID while trying to keep the whales in the frame but photos revealed the first three whales we got photos of were J22, J31, and L109. We saw an open saddled male-smaller than J26- behind us that we figured was L105 so we knew we probably had the L4s, L47s, L72s, L87, and L90 somewhere around, at least. L105 soon showed up and traveled loosely with J22. L90 was also in the area. L105 caught a wave and surfed away with water flying off his dorsal fin. He then disappeared and we looked for other whales. L90 joined J22 and those two traveled tightly together for a brief while. L72 was about a hundred meters to the west of them. We then moved up ahead and to the west a little and found two loosely spread mom/calf pairs. This was J35 with J57 and L86 with L125. These whales then spread out a little and headed northwest with J57 and L125 charging around together. L87 suddenly appeared on our port side and J45 was also nearby. J27 showed up two hundred yards or so to our east at the same time and water streamed behind his dorsal as he surfed a wave for a moment. We were somewhere around mid-Haro Strait by this point-between Gooch Island and Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island. We moved east toward Stuart Island and got on a newly formed tight group of four that included the J22s and the L83s. We could see another group forming closer to Turn Point and went there next. We saw the sprouter L109 again and then a tight socializing group that included J40, J42, J46, J53, L103, L118, and L123. This group logged briefly and was tactile. There was another small group nearer to the point that had at least J41 in it but we could not get to them before they disappeared into rougher water. While the water had improved slightly nearer to Stuart Island, there was an ugly tide rip with lots of big logs about a half mile north of Turn Point so we were not going any further. There was one group still behind us so we waited for them to pass us by. J16 passed by followed by J36 who blew a nice rainbow. They were followed by L05 and J44 who were traveling together as they passed us. We ended the encounter there at Turn Point at 1243 with the whales heading northwest toward Swanson Channel. We went home via Boundary Pass and Johns Pass to avoid the bulk of the lumpy seas blowing up Haro Strait. It was a wet, rocking and rolling day, though, and we had to clean a lot of salt out of our ears when we got home.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388