J50 and J16
J50 and J16

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J41 & J51
J41 & J51

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Big Mamma
Big Mamma

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J50 and J16
J50 and J16

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Encounter Summary: 

Early Wednesday morning Jeanne Hyde heard J pod calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophone and called both Ken and Dave around 0750. We all scrambled to Snug Harbor and Jeanne joined Ken aboard Tonto while Dave jumped in Orca and both boats left the harbor at the same time a little after 0830.
The encounter started soon after at about 0850 at the north end of Mitchell Bay and the south tip of Kellett Bluff. Tonto found the J19's, including J51, immediately and headed north with them. Orca found the J16's and most of the J17's spread out as they came out of Mitchell Bay and around the southern end of Kellett Bluff. J26 was seen chasing a fish before he pointed west and disappeared. Other than the loose group of J16's and part of the J17's along Kellett Bluff, the whales were incredibly spread out across Haro Strait and hard to find. The J16's and J17's loose group dissipated before they got to Battleship Rock leaving Orca with just J16 and J50 while the others foraged by themselves. Both J50 and J51 appeared energetic and more filled out than the last time we saw them.
The whole rest of the day was an effort in trying to find and photograph individuals we hadn't seen yet that day. The whales were so spread out and taking such long dives that even when we found whales, they would often go on a long dive and disappear, finally showing up again a long distance away. We saw a few individuals chasing fish throughout the day but thought probably more of that was going on at depth rather than at the surface.
J2 and L87 were found way over by Gooch Island, just a little northwest of Tom Point. A humpback whale appeared in their general area a little east of Gooch Island. This turned out to be BCY0324, otherwise known as "Big Mama" who is well known by local whale watchers. She stayed in northern Haro Strait between Gooch Island and Turn Point for the rest of the afternoon.
The whales continued slowly north still spread out from one side of the strait to the other. Some whales moved into Boundary Pass as least as far east as Bedwell Harbor before heading back north into Swanson Channel. Some small groups began forming well up Swanson Channel. J27 and J45 were fooling around with one another for over an hour and were later joined by J38.
The leaders seemed to be waiting for the trailers to catch up near Active Pass and did not enter into the pass until all of J pod and L87 were passing Enterprise Reef. Orca ended the encounter at 1515 after all the whales had entered Active Pass.







Tonto and Orca

Ken Balcomb,Jeanne Hyde aboard Tonto

Dave Ellifrit aboard Orca

J pod and L87




J46, J47,J49,J50,J52,L87

Haro Strait & Swanson Channel






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Encounter #12 - March 18, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits