UAV Encounter #15 - Sept 28, 2022
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Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
Operators:Mia Lybkær Kronborg Nielsen
Other Observers:Federica Spina, Rachel John
Start Latitude:48 29.58
Start Longitude:123 08.17
End Latitude:48 28.07
End Longitude:123 03.91
After encountering J pod the previous evening, the team received reports in the morning that Js were still present along the west side of San Juan Island. They left the dock at 11:13 and headed down island.
By 11:32, the team had found whales off Hannah Heights and launched the drone a few minutes later. Initially, they found a group composed of the J19s, J37 and J59, along with J22. These whales were engaged in some high energy socializing before splitting up. The team stayed with the J19s as they continued to slowly move down island.
After a couple flights with the J19s, the team moved towards False Bay to see what other groups were around to survey. They found J35 and J57 headed down island. The pair broke offshore, and soon met up with J35's teenage son, J47. These three stayed in tight formation as they arced back towards shore.
The team then moved on the their next group of whales, which turned out to be the entire J14 matriline, including new calf J59. These whales also moved in a tight, social group. They seemed to be following the J19s, who were a few hundred yards ahead of them, back towards San Juan Island. Once the whales were closer to shore in front of False Bay, they stalled out and milled as the J35s came up island to meet them.
The team left this subgroup and headed towards Eagle Point, where they found a very social group of adult females from a few different matrilines: J31, J36, J42, and J46. These whales were mainly interested in socializing, but at one point did pause to briefly chase a fish, although they didn't appear to catch it. Some ways away, J53 and J56 worked together to chase their own fish, which J53 eventually caught and appeared to share with J56.
After collecting over two hours of behavioural footage, the team had used up all of their batteries. The team ended the encounter at 15:36, as the whales continued to mill between False Bay and Eagle Point.