UAV Encounter #7 - May 21, 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:North Side of Orcas Island
Start Latitude:48 43.14
Start Longitude:122 55.41
End Latitude:48 39.90
End Longitude:122 43.51
The team had received reports of a small group of killer whales making their way southeast from the Belle Chains. After fuelling up, the team headed out to meet them as they reached the north side of Orcas Island. On the way, the group was identified as the T34s.
The team arrived on scene at 15:40 between Point Doughty and Parker Reef. They first saw a pair of whales identified as the T37Bs, far away from other whales. The rest of the group was near the reef, apparently hunting seals. The team got in position and launched the drone to start behavioural observations.
The whales spread out and moved east, splitting first into two groups. The lead group was composed of the T37s, travelling extremely spread out. The team dropped back to the trailers, and first found T34 travelling with T34B, porpoising towards the leaders. The whales eventually slowed down, and were joined by another whale, T34A. The team took a few photographs during this period to identify the whales involved while on scene, but primarily focused on behavioural observations with the drone.
From the drone, the team observed T34A bring a seal to the other two T34s, first passing the seal to T34, who then immediately passed the prey item to T34B. The whales milled, sharing and processing the kill, for several minutes before heading towards the Barnes Island shoreline.
As the whales approached the island, they picked up some speed and clustered into a single group. The team continued to follow the whales as they made their way towards Rosario Strait.
The team ended their encounter at the northern entrance to Rosario Strait at 18:05, as the whales continued travelling south.