J2
J2

Photo by Ken Balcomb

K43
K43

Photo by Ken Balcomb

K20
K20

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J2
J2

Photo by Ken Balcomb

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Encounter Summary: 

The wind increased to 15+ knots in the morning and the seas were quite "chunky" in Haro Strait, especially off the south end of San Juan Island where the whales were reported "coming in" toward False Bay and Eagle Point before noon. By mid-afternoon the wind died down a bit and the flooding tide was cresting, making vessel response more attractive. A few whales very spread out swam north in front of the Center for Whale Research around 1500, and among them was K25 the whale that was satellite tagged on 29 December 2012. The tag had transmitted for 93 days and demonstrated his travels along the coast of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California for studies of the critical habitat utilized by the Southern Resident Killer Whales. But, some of the tag hardware had remained in K25's dorsal fin and CWR was contracted by NWFSC/NOAA for follow-up studies. That contract has ended, but follow-up is still important to monitor the healing and re-sculpting of tissues surrounding the tag site. There does not appear to be any contra-lateral damage to the fin similar to that observed for earlier transient whales tagged, T30 and T90, nor is there external evidence of necrosis on K25.Ken departed Snug Harbor in "Chimo" at 1553 and six minutes later encountered whales in Open Bay as they headed northwest. K25 was encountered at 1610 and much of the time thereafter was spent getting photographs to document his healing. We can see three small bumps clustered on the right side of his dorsal fin at the tag site, where there was one larger bump and a titanium post protruding last year. The situation is analogous to a splinter that festers for years, and eventually comes out. The tag design has reportedly been changed since these attachment "hardware failures" of yesteryears, and the tagging project is slated to continue, to further document what we already know to be Salish Sea and near-coastal habitat utilization by SRKW's.The most important information to obtain about a predator's life is what is the prey, and how much prey is needed; and, then determine where they can find it. These are all elements of the various studies and recovery plan by NMFS that is in place for the SRKW's.The whales' behavior was that of slow travel and foraging, but the few prey remains (scales and tissues) that were seen were deeper than could be reached with a swimming pool net that we use for collection. The whales' travel and foraging was up Haro Strait until 1728, at which time they reversed course off of Speiden Channel and traveled back to the southeast, passing the Center for Whale Research around 1930 as the sun set.

Notes-Comments: Most of the J's and some K's and the L54's remained further south in Haro Strait spread out and foraging between False Bay and Bellevue Point for much of the day. The group reported in this encounter was several miles north. A lone closed saddle male was reported to be wandering around Swiftsure Bank by himself for much of the past week, and we surmise that it may be L85. The SRKW spread is quite amazing, but they seem to be finding salmon.

13-Sep-15

1

78

1559

1728

Chimo

Ken Balcomb

SRKW

J2,K12,K13,K14,K20,K25,

K26,K33,K37,K38,K43,K44

Haro Strait

43.34.30/123.11.28

48.35.6/123.12.2

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Encounter #78 - Sept 13, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 272