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UAV Encounter #13 - Sept 9, 2023
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ObservBegin:03:47 PM

ObservEnd:06:33 PM


UAV ID:Columbia

Pilot:Michael Weiss

Operators:Michael Weiss

Other Staff:Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers:Molly Henling, Federica Spina


LocationDescr:Haro Strait

Start Latitude:48 22.32

Start Longitude:123 19.03

End Latitude:48 28.59

End Longitude:123 05.42



The team had been monitoring reports of SRs coming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the late morning and early afternoon. The SR3 drone team made it out there first and ID’d the whales as J pod coming in near Race Rocks. Once the whales were a little west of the Victoria waterfront, the team mobilized, met at Snug Harbor, and left in the boat at 1510. We arrived on scene about two miles southeast of Trial Island and the encounter began at 1547.

J pod was in at least three different groups. The first group included most of the J17s (minus J44) along with J40 and J45. The J16s were due north of this group by about two hundred yards. Another group behind the J16s included the J19s, J22s, J37s, and J39. These groups were all moving fairly quickly and members of the J17s began porpoising briefly as they headed northeast toward Discovery. J42 joined this group while they were off the Chain Islets. The J31s and J27 were several hundred yards to the southwest of the J17s group and J44 was traveling by himself somewhere in between the two groups. All the groups got closer together as they passed Seabird Point and then they began to fan out again. The J16s were the furthest north group as they headed northeast toward San Juan Island. J42 was back with J16 and J26 while J36 was now off with other whales. There was a larger group south of these whales that included the J14s, J22s, J31s, and J27 and we had lighting to get some nice lefts on them. As they got closer to SJI, this group also began to fan out. About halfway across Haro Strait, we got the drone up over the J31s and J27 and the day became a drone encounter for the remaining hour of it.

We did three flights over various whales as they foraged along the SJI shoreline between Hannah Heights and False Bay. We ended the encounter at 1833 with the few whales we were with heading down island from the south end of False Bay.


Photos taken under Federal Permits


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