UAV Encounter #10 - May 28, 2022
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Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
Operators:Mia Lybkær Kronborg Nielsen
Other Observers:Rachel John
LocationDescr:Flat Top Island
Start Latitude:48 37.70
Start Longitude:123 09.78
End Latitude:48 39.79
End Longitude:123 04.20
The team had heard about several groups of Bigg's killer whales to the east of San Juan Island, with the nearest group being at the north end of San Juan Channel. The team had successfully photographed all of J pod, and collected multiple hours of behavioural data on the group, so decided to collect some Bigg's behavioural data.
The team arrived on scene with the T65Bs and T75Bs at 13:55 as the whales headed east through Spieden Channel. The whales passed a group of hauled out Steller sea lions, taking a quick swipe at them before moving on. The Stellers responded by getting in the water en masse and apparently trying to mob the killer whales.
The whales angled towards Flat Top Island. The whales did a loop around the island, chasing a few harbor seals but not catching them as far as we could tell. After completing one loop, the whales headed towards White Rock. The whales, particularly the younger individuals, were being very social at this point. The team ended the encounter at 15:23 as the whales continued north east. These whales would later meet up with the T109Cs and T60s, along with the T123s (see Orca Survey encounter 29).