T65B spyhop
T65B spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

the end
the end

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T65A2 taillob
T65A2 taillob

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T65B spyhop
T65B spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Encounter Summary: 

Dave was working at CWR for most of the day and listening to the radios. The whale watch fleet had found a group of transients near Thatcher Pass and Dave listened to the fleet discuss the whale's progress through the San Juan Islands. The group was reported to be the T65A's, T65B's, T75B with a new calf, and T75C-a group that had been around a few days before and had been in Puget Sound the previous day. When the whales made it to Friday Harbor and began heading up San Juan Channel, Dave headed to the boat and left Snug Harbor in Orca at 1605.
Orca arrived on scene at 1635 mid-San Juan Channel a little west of Yellow Island. The whales were in a tight group heading slowly west. A couple of the younger animals were rolling around with one another. The whales continued up San Juan Channel, at one point angled toward President Channel before pointing back toward Flattop Island.
At about 1725, the whales began milling a half mile or so west of Jones Island and, after a few minutes, gulls began to swoop down to picks up bits. It was an inconspicuous enough kill that Dave never saw what it was but the next day Spencer Domico, who was aboard Peregrine, told him that they got photos of a harbor seal in the middle of the whales. The whales soon moved on toward Flattop Island and went around its south and west side before pointing west again. T65A2 and T75C drifted off from the group but were back with it within half an hour.
Around 1845 and after everyone else had left leaving Orca alone with the whales, the group began losing members. T65A2 drifted off again 200 or more yards away from the group. T75C and T65B disappeared too and reappeared over half a mile to the east of most of the whales and were in hunting mode. We had all seen lots of harbor porpoise in the area earlier. Most of the T65A's and T65B2 began milling with the younger animals rolling around with one another. T75B, who had the new calf at her side, began heading back east toward T65B and T75C who were about a half mile or so west of White Rock. T65B2 left the play group and began porpoising that direction too several hundred yards behind T75B and her calf. The T65A's began following more slowly.
Orca also headed back toward the hunting whales and was not quite there yet when a whale rammed a harbor porpoise out of the water. As Orca approached, the porpoise was still alive and T65B and T75C were in slow pursuit. T75B and calf along with T65B2 soon joined the hunt. Suddenly, T65B rammed the porpoise and her inverted lunge brought her all the way out of the water along with the porpoise that went flying. Amazingly, that blow did not kill the porpoise but it was moving slowly at the surface afterwards and was probably in bad shape. The whales came back around and T65B lunged and grabbed the porpoise and that was the end of that.
The whales spread out a bit to feed and celebrate the kill. The T65A's merged and mixed and splashed around. T65B did three rather explosive spyhops. T65B and T65B2 seemed to be enjoying most of the carcass while other whales seemed to be socializing. T65A2 flopped around and did a few tail lobs. His flukes are quite curled which is a sign of a maturing male. While T65A2 hasn't quite sprouted yet, he still had the largest dorsal fin in the group.
Orca left the whales due to failing light in that same area at 1935 while they were still feeding and socializing.







Dave Ellifrit

T65A's, T65B's, T75B's, T75C,T65A,T65A2,T65A3,


T75B,T75B2(new calf),T75C

San Juan Channel





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Encounter #22 - April 16, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits