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UAV Encounter #6- April 23, 2024
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ObservBegin:12:54 PM

ObservEnd:03:43 PM

Vessel:KCB III

UAV ID:Skagit

Pilot:Michael Weiss

Operators:Michael Weiss

Other Staff:Dave Ellifrit

Pods:Bigg's killer whales

Start Latitude:48 28.07

Start Longitude:123 09.34

End Latitude:48 37.48

End Longitude:123 09.34



After receiving reports of multiple groups of Bigg’s heading north in Haro Strait, Michael and Dave headed to Snug and left in KCB3 at 1235. We arrived on scene with a group of whales about a mile north of the Beaumont Shoal buoy at 1254. T19, T19B, and the T49As (minus T49A2) were in a single, tight group heading slowly north. The brothers T49A3 and T49A4 were surfacing together towards the rear of the formation. We stayed for one right side pass on this group before leaving them for another group that was spotted almost a mile to the southeast.

The new group was the T36As and they were now heading north-northeast towards San Juan Island. We had one pass to get a few left side IDs and then decided to launch the drone. It was mostly a drone encounter for the rest of the day as the T36As headed slowly up the west side of San Juan Island. The T19s and T49A group had continued north on the Canadian side of Haro Strait and we soon lost sight of them. The group of six T36As split into two in Andrews Bay with T36A1 and T36A1A being at least a hundred yards or more to the inside of the rest of the T36As. The widest spread between the groups was off Kellett Bluff with the T36A1s being several hundred yards inshore of the others. Then the two groups switched positions off north Henry Island and the T36A1s took the offshore line. By the time the whales made it to Battleship, the T36A1s were heading back east. It looked like some of the whales may have gone through the slot between Battleship and McCracken Point on the north tip of Henry Island but at least one whale went around the top of Battleship. The six whales came back together and were traveling east off the west entrance to Roche Harbor. From the drone footage, the T36As appeared to be slightly more social now than they had earlier in the day. Also, while we knew at least one of the young T36As was a male, we were able to confirm from drone footage that both T36A5 and T36A1A are males. We had one last right side photo-ID pass before ending the encounter at 1543 just north of the east entrance to Roche Harbor.

Photos taken under Federal Permits


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