UAV Encounter #18 - Oct 6, 2022
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Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388
Other Observers:Darren Croft, Rachel John, Federica Spina
Start Latitude:48 30.00
Start Longitude:123 09.72
End Latitude:48 28.46
End Longitude:123 05.69
The team received reports early in the morning that J pod was around on the west side of San Juan Island. At 8:55, the team got off the dock and made their way down the west side, and soon found whales just south of Lime Kiln at 9:11. With great lighting and glass calm water, the team got the drone in the air to begin aerial observations of the whales' behavior.
The whales were spread and foraging, with members of the J19s, J22s, J17s, and J37s spread throughout the area. The team saw lots of prey searching and dives to foraging depth, but didn't see this group bringing many fish to the surface initially, except for one observation of J51 with a fish in his mouth playing keep-away from his sister J58.
The team moved down island and inshore to another small group of whales, composed of J42, J53, and J46. They watched as this group charged into a large school of fish, but they didn't appear to catch any. However, a few minutes later, J42 seemed to find a fish deeper in the water column, which she and J53 chased together to the surface, where J42 eventually made a the capture and shared half the fish with J53. Soon after, the team also found J31 and J56, already sharing a fish.
The next group the team found was the J35s and J40. After an unsuccessful prey chase, J40 split from the J35s. The J35s then successfully chased a fish to the surface, where J35 lunged to capture the fish and shared it with her two sons.
The team found males J45 and J44 nearby, searching for fish and chasing a few schools, but not seeming to have much luck. Down by False Bay, the team found a big group of females socializing. This was J31, J36, J40, J42, J56, and J58. The team stayed with this group for some time, until technical issues with the battery forced them to end the encounter and head back to the dock.