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UAV Encounter #2- March 18, 2024
Screenshot 2024-06-24 at 8.58.34 AM.png
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ObservBegin:03:07 PM

ObservEnd:04:34 AM

Vessel:KCB III

UAV ID:Columbia

Pilot:Michael Weiss

Operators:Michael Weiss

Other Staff:Dave Ellifrit

Other Observers:Katie Jones

Pods: Bigg's killer whales

LocationDescr:Haro Strait

Start Latitude:48 26.75

Start Longitude:123 09.22

End Latitude:48 25.60

End Longitude:123 00.60



The team was working in the office when we saw that Mark Malleson had posted on the sighting app that he had T87 and a good group of other Bigg’s southeast of Discovery Island heading northeast. It was a beautiful day, and the whales were heading towards us for the time being, so we loaded up our gear and headed down to Snug Harbor. We left Snug in KCB3 at 1440 and headed toward Discovery. We found Mark in his yellow boat and the whales about a mile east of the Beaumont Shoal buoy and the encounter began at 1507.
The whales were in a fairly tight group and were now generally heading east-southeast. T87 was at the rear of the group while still being a part of it. The other whales present were T46C2, the T46B1s, and the T124As minus the T124A2s. T124A1 had a new calf with her that we had heard had been first seen the week before. We only had good lighting for right sides so we spent some time getting those on everyone in the group, including the calf. The calf was not showing a lot of eye patch and was often hidden behind T124A1’s dorsal fin but we got what we needed on it. Once we were happy with our right side IDs, we decided to launch the drone for some behavioral data. Once the drone was up, one of the first things that was noticed was that the calf was trying to nurse but T124A1 kept rolling away from it. Whenever the calf made an attempt, T124A1 would do a little spin with the calf chasing the mammary slits around. By the second launch, the whales had split into two groups with T87, T46C2, the T46B1s, and the T124A1s a few hundred yards to the southwest of the rest of the T124As. On at least one occasion on the second flight, T124A1 did not roll, and the calf was able to make a more normal attempt to nurse. We ended the encounter at 1634 after the second flight with the whales now heading more easterly about two miles southwest of American Camp.

Photos taken under Federal Permits


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