Encounter #125 - Dec 28, 2016
L87 pec slap
L87 pec slap

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J39 flukes
J39 flukes

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L87 pec slap
L87 pec slap

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photos taken under Federal Permits



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Dave Ellifrit

J pod and L87

San Juan Channel

48 37.76/123 06.38

48 36.82/123 11.25

Encounter Summary:

Jane Cogan called Dave at home to relay the report that Jeff Friedman aboard "J1" had found J pod heading north in San Juan Channel. Dave mobilized and left Snug Harbor aboard "Orcinus" at 1320. Dave arrived on scene east of Green Point on the east end of Spieden Island at 1336.

Members of the J14s and J19s were loosely spread out and foraging in the middle of the area between Green Point, Limestone Point on SJ Island, Jones Island, and Flattop Island. By 1355, the J14s minus J45 and the J19s plus J31 grouped up and began a period of social milling interspersed with some long down times. About a half mile to the east of this group, J39 and J46 were loosely spread out but foraging in the same area.

Tom and Jane Cogan were out aboard their boat "Morning Star" with Melisa Pinnow aboard and they had found J26 foraging by himself about 3/4s of a mile to the south of "Orcinus". Dave headed down to J26 while "Morning Star" headed north towards Jones Island and other whales. Dave took a brief look at J26 before heading back north again and finding L87 by foraging by himself. "Morning Star" had found more of the J16s about a mile north of L87 so Dave headed that way after L87 arched and went on a long dive. The J16s were spread out as they approached Flattop Island and Dave only got pictures of J36 and J52. Jane Cogan and Melisa Pinnow got pictures of J16, J42, and J50, though.

"Orcinus" moved over to Green Point where whales were starting to appear. J31, J39, and J40 milled off the point with a few lazy pec slaps and one whale logging and vocalizing at the surface. J26 approached from the southeast and, after briefly being tactile with J31, J39 and J40, he traveled loosely with them as they headed slowly west along the northeast side of Spieden Island toward New Channel.

There were other whales back toward Green Point and this was the J22s and J17s and they filed right past the point under the eyes of some watchful stellar sea lions. J27 was several hundred yards ahead of this group also traveling slowly west along the north side of Spieden toward New Channel. Jeanne Hyde had reported that she had watched from shore as he headed west halfway into Spieden Channel before he back tracked and went along the north side. About a half mile to the northeast of the J17s and J22s, L87 and J45 were traveling together and they were also headed toward New Channel. Due to clouds making the backside of Spieden Island even darker than normal, Dave ended the encounter there at about 1550.

This was CWR's first encounter with J pod in several months where we felt like the coverage was good enough to find all the whales present and we could not find J2. Many have suspected for the last couple of months that she might be gone and it is looking like that is the case.