L55 and L118
L55 and L118

Photo by Barbara Bender

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L103 Rainblow
L103 Rainblow

Photo by Barbara Bender

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Recreational Whalewatching
Recreational Whalewatching

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L55 and L118
L55 and L118

Photo by Barbara Bender

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Encounter Summary: 

The day started rather slowly with no reports of whales in the area at 0900, then a minke whale reported at Lawson Reef at 1015 and finally some Bigg’s Transient whales coming up out of Admiralty Inlet at 1031. Then two more Bigg’s Transient whales near Mandarte Island at 1044. These latter whales were close enough to warrant a vessel response, but by the time we were ready more whales were sighted off Hannah Heights and then J pod whales were reported off the Coal Docks at Tsawassen. If J’s were north, then the Hannah Heights to Eagle Point whales might be L’s or K’s, so we elected to go south from Snug Harbor to the Eagle Point sighting. Then more whales were sighted in Rosario Strait. This was going to be a long day, so we had lunch before departing.
After checking fuel we finally cast off from Snug Harbor at 1430 and encountered L whales spread out and entering Cattle Pass at 1507 with a flood tide. They were L27, L47, L83, L86, L91, L95, L106, L110, and L115, and they came together just east of Goose Island before exiting Cattle Pass and heading west and northwest by 1535, spreading out again into slightly choppy seas. Identification photography was very difficult in the bouncy waters as the whales made long dives and surfaced unpredictably, but there were enough boats around to keep track of them for a while, so after rechecking (chimping) the proof of presence shots we opted to leave them for awhile. At 1540, we departed this group and headed to Davidson Rock where the other group of whales was reported.
We arrived in the vicinity of the second group of whales at 1604 and found them also spread out and heading west and northwest into the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. They were L55, L82, L103, L109, L116, and L118; and, the sea conditions were much nicer with them for ID shots. We stayed with them until 1657 as they alternately gathered up and spread out moving ‘up-island’ off Iceberg Point, Lopez. We did not observe any obvious feeding by this or the other group, which was reportedly moving up-island in Haro Strait off San Juan at the time. Because the northerly group was reported to be coming together off Hannah Heights we moved up to see them at 1725; but, by then they were spread out again and heading down-island. This was very frustrating and reminiscent of their behavior and travels during Encounter 40 on 3 June. They were the same whales in both encounters – nothing new, and nobody gone away. We must await another day to see the rest of L pod and K pod. We left the whales at 1744 off Andrews Point, San Juan Island.
J pod had moved south from the Coal Docks to the vicinity of Alden Bank by evening, and we hope to see them all come together for our next encounter.







Ken Balcomb

Barbara Bender

L pod subgroups




Haro Strait

48 26.646/122 57.702

48 29.492/123.08.048



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Encounter #41 - June 6, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits