UAV Encounter #9 - Aug 17, 2023
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Other Observers:Darren Croft, Alyssa Kelley
Pods:J, K, L
Start Latitude:48 26.80
Start Longitude:123 10.75
End Latitude:48 34.75
End Longitude:123 12.05
Mark and Joe had followed J, K, and L pod in from out west, and Dave, Rachel, and Molly had picked them up as they moved further east (see Encounter 44). Michael, Darren, and Alyssa geared up to catch them on the US side of the strait to do aerial observation, getting off the dock at 13:28 and heading southwest. The aerial observation team arrived on scene at 13:54 in the middle of Haro Strait, east of Discovery Island.
The whales were in a few tight groups, moving east fast. The team started a focal follow on one large group, consisting of members of the J16s, J14s, J22s, and L55s. The whales were very active and social as they quickly made their way to the west side of the island, headed towards Pile Point. They eventually made a turn to the left, heading up island.
The whales spread out a bit and began foraging; J39 foraged offshore of the group, and L118 also broke off from the main group to catch a fish, which she brought back to the surface. The group was soon joined by K43 and K27 as they moved lazily up island.
After a few flights, the team switched to another group a bit further north. This group turned out to mostly be adult and sprouter males: J27, K35, K42, L116, and L106 were all together, with K16 and J40 nearby. K35 linked up with his mother K16 and the two of them broke off, while J27, K42, and L116 continued to socialize.
The K16s and K42 met up with the J19s, K26, K43, J39, and K37, who all briefly headed down island. Nearby, K36 foraged on her own. Further down island, K33 and L115 foraged about a hundred yards apart from one another.
The team headed up island to try to find some larger groups, as all the whales down island were starting to spread out. North of Lime Kiln they found the K22s and the J35s socializing on their way north. After a couple flights with this group, Dave radioed and told Michael that two large groups had formed off Open Bay. The team headed that way, and caught up with a good sized group rounding Kellet Bluff. This group turned out to be many of the whales the team started the day with, J pod whales and L55s.
As the whales continued north, the team decided to head back towards home. South of Kellet, they found the L12s heading south. The team did one more flight with this group before heading home, ending the encounter at 18:29.
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388