UAV Encounter #11 - May 28, 2022
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Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
Operators:Mia Lybkær Kronborg Nielsen
Other Staff:Dave Ellifrit
Other Observers:Rachel John
Start Latitude:48 37.69
Start Longitude:123 09.76
End Latitude:48 42.26
End Longitude:122 59.51
After hearing about several groups of transients making their way up San Juan Channel, the team met at Snug Harbor and left in the boat at 1628. We arrived on scene at 1701 about midway up President Channel. T2B, the T60s, and the T109Cs (nine animals total) were traveling slowly up the Orcas Island side of President Channel. We had heard that the T65Bs and T75Bs were traveling north off the west side of Waldron at the same time and that the T123s had also passed north through the area earlier. Around 1750, as our group was passing Point Doughty on Orcas Island, we began seeing the boats watching the T65Bs and T75Bs as they rounded Skipjack and Bare Islands. Our group began pointing northwest toward the other group of whales who looked like they were now pointed east.
After a long dive, all the whales in the immediate area surfaced together in a mixed loose group. They then moved right over to Point Doughty and began socializing. While T2B, the T60s, T65Bs, T75Bs, and the T109Cs were socializing, Michael spotted some more whales to the north of us in the direction of Patos Island. We wondered if this was the T123s who had been seen earlier in the afternoon. The new whales headed in the direction of the socializing whales and went on a long dive. When this group came up again, they were a little past us heading slowly toward Pt. Doughty in a tight group. We were able catch up to them before they joined the others and it was indeed the T123s. For several minutes, the socializing continued with lots of whales milling at the surface and there were several individual and double spyhops. We tried to end the encounter there and were slowly departing the scene when, rather abruptly, several whales began porpoising southwest toward Waldron Island’s eastern shoreline. We caught up to this group as they slowed down a little on the Waldron side of the channel and it was our original group of T2B, the T60s, and the T109Cs. We got one more right side pass on them and ended the encounter at 1902.