The T Gang
The T Gang

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T60F and T60C
T60F and T60C

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Busted
Busted

Photo by Ken Balcomb

The T Gang
The T Gang

Photo by Ken Balcomb

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Encounter Summary: 

For much of the day the resident whales were being reported in the southern Strait of Georgia, spread out and going various directions but making very little headway toward East Point and Boundary Pass where they were presumed to be destined. Around 1430 it seemed from a report six miles north of East Point that they might be committing to a southwesterly direction, so Ken embarked in “Chimo” at 1456 to attempt an encounter to see who was there. Enroute in Haro Strait, “Imagine” reported transient whales heading toward Sidney Spit which was a short diversion from the route to the residents, so Ken opted to encounter them before going on to meet the residents. As reported, the transients were right off of the southwest tip of Sidney Spit at 1519, and they were immediately identified as T60C (14 year old male) and his mom T60. Four other whales were about a mile further west behind them with “Imagine”. These other whales were swimming at high speed toward the two that “Chimo” encountered, and they eventually caught up and grouped up in Sidney Channel heading southeast toward D’Arcy Island. All had been alternately dispersing and gathering throughout the time they were observed prior to “Chimo’s” arrival, and they had conducted at least five predation events (AKA “kills” in whalewatcher jargon).

In the group photos it was apparent that all of the T60’s (mom and four offspring) were present, along with T2B, an adult female first documented in 1979, in the famous T2 lineage that included our research vessel’s namesake “Chimo”, AKA T4 a white whale with Chidiak-Higashi syndrome. For the complete story as it is known, see Ford and Ellis (1999) landmark book “Transients”, UBC Press. The transients are now also called Bigg’s whales, in honor of Dr. Mike Bigg’s pioneering efforts to photo-identify all of the killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. With Mike’s generous guidance a complete inventory has now effectively been accomplished, though he suffered much ridicule from aquarium folks at first for saying that individual killer whales could be recognized by their photographs.

T2B and the T60’s conducted at least one more predation event as they headed to Zero Rock and then headed down toward Chatham Island. Ken and “Chimo” left them at 1709 after rendezvousing with “Imagine” to pick up their naturalist, Heather McIntyre, to assist with the resident encounter that follows.

In the late morning of 6 October, the T60’s passed by the Center for Whale Research heading northwest up Haro Strait, after conducting a predation event near Low Island, San Juan Island.

04-Oct-15

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86

15:19

17:09

Chimo

Ken Balcomb

Transients

T2B, T60. T60C, T60D, T60E, T60F

Haro Strait

48.39.237/123.20.994

48.30.318/123.16.595

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Encounter #86 - Oct 4, 2015

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 272