UAV Encounter #16 - Oct 1, 2022
Your financial support makes our work possible
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
Operators:Mia Lybkær Kronborg Nielsen
Other Observers:Darren Croft, Federica Spina
LocationDescr:San Juan Channel
Start Latitude:48 38.25
Start Longitude:123 05.64
End Latitude:48 24.47
End Longitude:123 58.56
In the late morning, the team heard reports about a group of killer whales heading southwest down President Channel. They got off the dock at 11:30 and headed up Mosquito Pass and through Spieden Channel to find the whales. They arrived on scene at 12:05, with the T100s heading towards the north side of Spieden Island.
The whales travelled in a typical tight group, cutting past Green Point without taking a swipe at three Steller sea lions sitting in the kelp, and then headed into the east side of Spieden Channel. They tucked into a cove on the San Juan shoreline and made the first of many harbor seal kills we would observe during the encounter, and then proceeded to process and share the kill as they headed south down the San Juan shoreline.
The whales made another kill before reaching the mouth of Friday Harbor, although they mostly caught the seals at depth, so the drone could only observe the prey sharing afterwards. The whales continued into Griffin Bay. We heard reports that there was a minke whale very nearby, however the minke ended up avoided the T100s. The killer whales continued to sleepily make their way across Griffin Bay.
As the whales neared the south side of the bay, they woke up again and began hunting. From the drone, we observed T100E kill a harbor seal with her flukes. T100C then grabbed the seal and immediately passed it over to his mom, T100. The whole matriline then spent some quality time sharing their kill.
The whales made two more seal kills in Griffin Bay before continuing towards Cattle Point., where they made one last kill that we observed. The whales continued heading offshore, and then cut northwest. We used up our last batteries and then left south of Cattle Point at 16:53, heading back up the west side of San Juan Island.