Photo by Ken Balcomb


Photo by Ken Balcomb

Breach cropped
Breach cropped

Photo by Ken Balcomb


Photo by Ken Balcomb


Encounter Summary: 

It was an absolutely spectacular calm morning, so Ken departed Snug Harbor in "Chimo" at 1026 to check out a humpback whale off the San Juan County Park and then see what he could find. The L54's had passed the Center for Whale Research at 0922 heading northwest and others had not yet been reported, so it was presumed that more SRKW's might be in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, while yet others might be in the Strait of Georgia. There was also a fin whale reported in the recent days in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca that could be interesting.At 1106 a male KW dorsal fin was spotted off Eagle Point and another was way offshore. The first male was loosely accompanied by a female and the two turned out to be L89 and L22, conducting long lazy dives as they moved slowly to the southwest and offshore. The second male turned out to be L41, further offshore and also conducting long dives while moving slowly southwest. Presumably the rest of the L12's were also in the area, but the distribution was very spread out.A large spread out group of SRKW's was then reported in Rosario Strait traveling south against a strong incoming tide near Blakely Island, so Ken and "Chimo" went off to check them out.The Rosario Strait assemblage turned out to be most of the remaining SRKW population spread out in mixed subgroups and traveling/foraging toward the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Whidbey Island shoreline off the Naval Airstation. The sea conditions were Beaufort 0, but the sun was high and cast fin shadows across saddle patterns, making for poor ID conditions. The background scenery was spectacular, however, so the encounter was continued for three and a half hours in an attempt to obtain proof of presence of everybody. That proved impossible from just one vessel, so "Chimo" departed the pattern at 1506 near Point Colville, Lopez Island. With the calm seas and lighting conditions being perfect for aerial measurements, Ken called in John Durban's UAS team before leaving, and they remained with the whales until sunset in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. Many nice aerial measurement photos were obtained before dark.


Notes-Comments: The J17's were reported to be in Boundary Pass heading toward East Point Saturna Island way ahead of the L54's in the morning. The entire SRKW population is no doubt in the area, but the distribution is very spread out, and the foraging seems relaxed. A report on the aerial operations will be available on this website when this aspect of the study in collaboration with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center/NOAA and the Vancouver Aquarium ends next week. Our CWR Annual Summary of SRKW status in 2015 will be available after the end of the year.







Ken Balcomb

J,K,L members in mixed subgroups spread over a huge area - not conducive to a complete inventory.

Rosario Strait





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Encounter #76 - Sept 10, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits