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UAV Encounter #11 - Aug 21, 2023
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ObservBegin:11:31 AM

ObservEnd:02:06 PM


UAV ID:Columbia

Pilot:Michael Weiss

Operators:Michael Weiss

Other Observers:Darren Croft, Alyssa Kelley, Molly Henling

Pods:J, K, L

IDsEncountered:J16, J26, J27, J31, J35, J40, J44, J46, J53, J56, J57, K14, K20, K22, K26, K36, K38, K42, K45, L94, L113, L127

LocationDescr:Lower Haro Strait/Hein Bank

Start Latitude:48 37.33

Start Longitude:123 09.98

End Latitude:48 38.14

End Longitude:123 13.46



The team received reports of whales coming down Rosario in the early morning, and later heard reports that they were on the west side near Eagle Point. They decided to head out and get some drone footage before the wind was forecasted to pick up later in the afternoon.

After getting off the dock at 11:09, the team found a small group of whales in the middle of Haro Strait, directly between Landbank and Discovery Island. This group was K14, K26, and K42, heading southwest. After IDing the whales, the team decided to head east to see if they could find groups closer to shore where the water would be more conducive to aerial observation.

After seeing J16 and J26 offshore of False Bay, the team found a small group of whales near Eagle Point. The team launched the drone, and began observation of this spread out group composed of J35, J44, J46, and J57. The whales were headed south towards Hein Bank. J44 and J53 socialized while J57 goofed around near his mom.

After following this group for half an hour, the team moved offshore towards a larger group of active whales. There they found the K20s, along with K36. K20 had apparently just caught a fish and shared half with K38. K45 spent some time investigating kelp mats, seemingly very comfortable swimming away from mom for an extended period of time. In general, the whales seemed to be spread out and in foraging mode, with the team able to see many more whales than those they were able to get the drone over. All of the whales seemed to be moving south, following the western edge of Hein Bank.

Further south, the team found K33 milling near the surface. As the team watched, K22 swam in from the north with a salmon in her mouth, which she broke in half to share with K33.

The team found the L94, L113 and L127 socializing with J35 and J57. L113 was playing babysitter for L127 for much of the time, while L94 was presumably off searching for fish. J57 and L127 were both very active at the surface and social with one another. Nearby, J27, J31, and J56 travelled with J40. Like the other young whales we saw that day, J56 was very surface active, performing several breaches.

Around 14:00, the wind and waves began to really pick up, and the team decided they needed to end the encounter and get home. They called it a day at 14:06, with the whales still headed south along Hein Bank.


Photos taken under Federal Permits


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