2022 Encounters

Encounter #6 - Jan 22, 2022
L pod

L pod

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L105 spyhop

L105 spyhop

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L22 breach

L22 breach

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L83 and L122

L83 and L122

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L25, L72, and L105

L25, L72, and L105

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L125

L125

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L115 and L121

L115 and L121

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L106

L106

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L113

L113

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L105 and L85

L105 and L85

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L85

L85

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L116, L22, L82, and L77

L116, L22, L82, and L77

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L72 and L105

L72 and L105

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L55 and L109

L55 and L109

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L87

L87

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L105

L105

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

L55

L55

Copyright © 2022 Center for Whale Research

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EncDate: 22/01/22 

EncSeq: 2

Enc#: 6

ObservBegin: 11:06 AM

ObservEnd :04:10 PM

Vessel: Orcinus

Staff: Dave Ellifrit

Pods: L

LocationDescr: Haro Strait

Start Latitude: 48 38.52

Start Longitude: 123 13.72

End Latitude: 48 21.68

End Longitude: 123 05.15

EncSummary:

Mark called Dave to say that he had received a report of a large number of whales coming down Boundary Pass. Kelley and Katie were busy that Saturday morning so Dave collected his stuff and headed to Snug Harbor. Dave left Snug at 1040 and headed north toward Stuart Island, arriving on scene off Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island at 1106. The whales were so spread out that there were hardly any whales in sight. Dave got a dot shot on a sprouter almost a mile to the east and then took a few shots of a single cryptic, backlit whale that turned out to be L116. It was another twenty minutes before another whale could be found and this was L118 traveling south by herself maybe about a mile and a half west of Battleship Island. Dave then moved southeast toward Kellett Bluff where he had seen a blow in the distance. This turned out to be L82 and she was also traveling slowly south before she turned northeast and began milling. A little later, L116 showed up and he and L82 traveled slowly south together loosely spread out off of north Kellett Bluff. Dave then back-tracked north a little until a spread out female and sprouter appeared north of Kellett Bluff. This was L55 and L109 and they came together as they traveled south along the bluff. When these two made it to the north end of Mitchell Bay, Dave began slowly working his way west to see who was on the other side of Haro Strait. Near the south end of Mitchell Bay, L116 started chasing a salmon while L82 continued slowly south nearby.
All the way on the other side of Haro Strait, about a quarter mile east of Kelp Reef, L87 and L90 were traveling about fifty yards apart from one another. These two spread out some more and Dave moved a few hundred meters to the west and L105 appeared. He milled briefly before fast traveling south. L72 showed up about a hundred yards ahead of L105. Dave began heading back east in hopes of finding new whales and saw L87 again. After spending a few minutes with L87 as he cruised south, there were no more whales in sight who were not all the way over on the SJI shoreline. Dave headed southeast towards False Bay but did not see any whales for about twenty five minutes. Two whales were then seen a little to the southwest and this was L72 and L105 again. The L72s cruised south steadily and were relatively cooperative. L90 appeared again and was about a hundred and fifty meters to the east of the L72s. She eventually joined them briefly before splitting off again. L90 currently has the sway-backed look she has had in the past when we have suspected her to be pregnant. After leaving the L72s, Dave headed inshore and pointed toward the area between the south end of False Bay and Eagle Point. The L86s had been reported inshore so that was the best chance of finding whales that had not been photographed yet. On the way over that direction, L91 and L122 showed up a little less than two miles southwest of False Bay. These two were loosely spread and heading south. About a quarter mile east of them L83 and L110 showed up traveling slowly south tightly together with Mt Baker in the background.  

While with the L83s at 1425, a male and maybe a couple others appeared about a half mile to the south. And then a group appeared about a quarter mile south of the male. It looked like a good sized group-too big to be the remaining L pod whales who had been inshore. The male passed heading north a couple hundred yards away and it was L85. The L12s had arrived and must have come in from the west. The group was a large, tight group of socializing Ls. Present were L22, L77, L124, L82, and L116 in one tight group and nearby were other socializing whales. The L72s, L83s, L91s, L25, and L119 were just a little behind the first group. L85, L87 and L90 also showed up and were in the mix. The socializing whales were going on lengthy long dives of ten minutes or more and often moved around unpredictably during that time. The socializing groups had individuals join and drift off for the rest of the encounter as they all moved southwest. There were multiple larger groups and many peripheral individuals and pairs. One of these socializing pairs was L110 and L119 with L110 very excitedly chasing L119 around. The encounter ended at 1610 about halfway between Middle Bank and the northern part of Hein Bank with the whales still heading southwest.  

The L54s and L88 were not present during this encounter. Everybody else in L pod was photographed by the end of the day with the exception of L89. Our friend and colleague Jared Towers had had the L12s up off northern Vancouver Island in front of Alert Bay on January 13th and L89 had not been present then either. L89 was last seen on November 5th, 2021 and he looked normal at that time. This is worrisome but we will continue looking for L89 until the rest of the southern residents are thoroughly documented in 2022.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388