Encounter #11 - Feb 16, 2016
T60D and T60E sharing piece of seal
T60D and T60E sharing piece of seal

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T60E and T60F
T60E and T60F

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T60C and T60F
T60C and T60F

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T60D and T60E sharing piece of seal
T60D and T60E sharing piece of seal

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photos taken under Federal Permits




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Dave Ellifrit


T2B, T60, T60C, T60D, T60E, T60F

San Juan Channel

48 31.26/122 57.05

48 25.56/122 57.45

Encounter Summary: 

After hearing about a report of whales in Wasp Passage, Dave headed down to Snug Harbor and left aboard Orca at 1035 to go in search of them. Orca headed east through Spieden Channel and along the north side of Jones island, past Deer Harbor, through Pole Pass, and then east through Harney Channel-stopping to scan with binoculars at several points along the way. Orca then headed down Upright Channel to a point closer to the Lopez Island side and stopped to take another scan where there was a clear view both to the west and south in San Juan Channel. Luckily the sighting conditions were perfect and Dave soon spotted the whales a couple miles away to the southwest.


Orca got on scene at 1142 about a half mile southeast of Turn Island mid-strait just a little closer to the SJI side than the Lopez Island side. The whales were the T60's and T2B again. T2B, T60, and T60F were actively engaged in the attack on a harbor seal who was trying to take refuge by a stray piece of kelp. T60C was off feeding several hundred yards away and there were gulls diving all over the place between the spread out whales indicating that they had made at least one recent kill and maybe more prior to Orca's arrival. T60D and T60E, who were spread out feeding to the south, came back and logged together at the surface facing the seal attack that some of the others were involved in. T60E joined the attack while T60D foraged and fed in the general area. T60C began doing head stands while he was off feeding by himself. He repeatedly raised his flukes in the air and waved them around. He was seen with a chunk of meat in his mouth a couple of times when he surfaced to breath.


Around 1225, all the whales began heading southwest toward Pear Point on SJI in a loose group. T60D and T60E were seen tight together with a piece of harbor seal that they were either sharing or arguing over. T2B, T60, and T60C traveled slowly west near the SJI shoreline before they pointed southwest deeper into Griffin Bay. The younger whales remained more active on the periphery of the older ones. T60D moved off to the east and began foraging alone while T60E and T60F goofed around with one another a couple hundred yards away from the older whales who appeared to be resting. All the whales headed slowly south in Griffin Bay and T60D eventually turned up again foraging right at Halftide Rock. The whales continued deep into Griffin Bay, staying maybe about a half mile from the beach as they turned east toward Cape San Juan. Some of the whales briefly but actively foraged at Harbor Rock which greatly alarmed the seals hauled out there. All the whales went between Harbor Rock and Cape San Juan and a few of them were plastered to the shoreline as they rounded the corner and headed toward Goose Island. The younger animals made a vigorous attempt at hunting seals at the south end of Goose Island with splashing and standing waves as they plowed through the water in pursuit of seals. It was unclear whether they actually made a kill. One of the adult females made a foray up the east side of Goose island but it was again unclear whether she made a kill. The older animals went on a long dive and came up several minutes later over a half mile away near the exit of Cattle Pass. T60D, T60E, and T60F ended their hunt and began fast traveling south to catch up to the others. The whales exited Cattle Pass and headed southeast in a loose group. Orca ended the encounter at 1452 about three quarters of mile east of the Salmon bank buoy.