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UAV Encounter #1 - June 14, 2023
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ObservBegin:01:13 PM

ObservEnd:03:22 PM


UAV ID:Columbia

Pilot:Michael Weiss

Operators:Michael Weiss

Other Staff:Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers:Rachel John, Alyssa Kelley


LocationDescr:Spieden Channel and Haro Strait

Start Latitude:48 37.48

Start Longitude:123 07.47

End Latitude:48 36.02

End Longitude:123 12.87



The team got reports of a group of whales headed towards Spieden Channel and left Snug to find them at 12:50. After just a quick run out, the team arrived on scene with the T124As (without the T124A2s) along with T124C at 13:13 as the whales headed west through Spieden Channel along the northern San Juan shoreline.

The team launched the drone to conduct behavioral observations. The whales were moving slowly in a resting pattern at first, although the youngest members of the group were pretty energetic at times. T124C consistently stayed behind and ended his long dives earlier than the rest of the group. Between surfacing sequences, the six females and juveniles would often split into two groups and then reform into a single group while at the surface.

The whales emerged out the west side of Spieden Channel and took a big left turn around Battleship Rock to head down Haro Strait. The team followed them as they rounded Kellet Bluff and headed into Open Bay. As they came out of the bay, the whales grouped up and started acting much more social. At a couple points, T124A7 lifted her head above the water with her mouth open. The behavior under the water appeared similar to prey sharing, but the aerial video doesn't seem to show any prey items.

The whales did a large turn and began headed back north. The team followed them as they headed back north past Kellet Bluff before ending the encounter at 15:22.

Photos taken under Federal Permits


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