Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J40 spyhop
J40 spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Encounter Summary: 

Tom Cogan called Dave at home a little after 8am to relay a report of whales heading west in Active Pass. Dave headed to Snug Harbor to board Orca and left at 0905 a few minutes after Tom and Jane Cogan left Snug aboard Morning Star.Both Orca and Morning Star headed north with Morning Star having about a two mile lead. Both boats were in the Enterprise Reef area about an hour after the last report of whales in that area which was at 0900. Both boats did an extensive search of the area with Morning Star going all the way through Active Pass in case the whales turned around and Orca checked out Navy Channel. We all took turns looking up Trincomali Channel before Orca went down the west side of Prevost Island and checked out Captains Passage and western Swanson Channel. Orca scanned over toward Sydney before coming around the west and south side of Moresby Island. By this time Ken and Barbara Bender were out in Tonto near Kellett Bluff and a Victoria whale watch boat was somewhere north of Kelp Reef. Orca then crossed Haro Strait again to about a mile north of Turn Point before heading up Boundary Pass toward Blunden Island. At about this time Dave got a call from Traci Walter saying she was hearing calls on the OrcaSound hydrophone so, somehow, the whales got by us all. Orca began charging south and everybody started looking in the Kellett Bluff, Sydney Island, and D'Arcy Island area and still could not find them. Both Jeanne Hyde and Traci Walter called Dave again to say they were hearing calls on the OrcaSound hydrophone again.Mark Malleson finally saw some breaching southbound whales a mile or so south of Kelp Reef and we all plunged south into increasingly rough seas due to a tidal lump.Orca arrived on scene at 1215 and Tonto shortly after. The whales were incredibly spread out (between the west side of SJI to well west of the Kelp Reef line)and taking long dives in sloppy water. Orca found J40, J19, and J2 spread out mid-strait pointed toward Seabird Point. Whales were very difficult to find and the seas were not helping. Orca eventually found the J28's and a little later all of the J14's actually came together in a little group. J40 did a nice spyhop before the group continued on into the slop. Tonto found J34 over near the County Park and a little later found J16, J50, and J42 near Bellevue Point. Orca headed over in that direction but the J16's disappeared into the increasing seas and both Orca and Tonto ended the encounter near Bellevue point at about 1315.Other boats and people on shore got pictures of a few whales we did not see but it was not the kind of day for complete coverage like we needed to answer our new calf question. J52 was not with J40 and it was not with J16, J50, and J42. We could not find J36 and it will be a priority to find her and hopefully J52 in future encounters.







Orca and Tonto

Dave Ellifrit in Orca

Ken Balcomb,

Barbara Bender in Tonto

J pod and L87



Haro Strait






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Encounter #14 - April 3, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits