Encounter #56 - June 24, 2016
T36A1 &T36A3
T36A1 &T36A3

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T123 & T123A
T123 & T123A

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Kids & T36A1
Kids & T36A1

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T36A1 &T36A3
T36A1 &T36A3

Photo by Ken Balcomb


Photos taken under Federal Permits



Enc Number:

Start Time:

End Time:





Begin Lat/Long: End Lat/Long:







Ken Balcomb

Bigg's Killer Whales

Boundary Pass

48 44.671N/123 02.473W

48 43.363N/123 13.703W

Encounter Summary: 

Continuing with the regime shift in the Salish Sea from “Resident” occupancy to “Transient” occupancy, this day and several previous days had reports of small groups of whales widely spread – T137’s in Rosario Strait, T123’s in Boundary Pass, and T36A’s and T75B’s in Swanson Channel, plus a couple of other reports here and there. We have already catalogued all of these whales in the recent couple of months, but the water and lighting conditions were favorable for encountering some of them again today, so another encounter seemed worthwhile. Ken departed Snug Harbor in “Chimo” at 1400 and went first to the Boundary Pass whales that had travelled between East Point, Patos Island, and Skipjack in a zig-zag pattern. Their dives were of fairly long duration and the surfacing bouts were somewhat unpredictable as “Chimo” came on scene at 1430, but they did pass between Skipjack Island and Waldron and that allowed a reasonable opportunity for ID photos for one surfacing. No feeding events were noted in this brief encounter as the whales meandered back out into the mainstream of Boundary Pass more or less headed toward Blunden Island. “Chimo” departed these whales at 1505 and headed toward the group reported in Swanson Channel.
The second group consisted of the T36A’s and T75B’s that had come via Active Pass and down the Swanson Channel to the vicinity of the “Pender Bluffs” by the time “Chimo” arrived at 1525. The youngsters in this group were being quite active, lagging and leading their parents as they splashed along at medium travel speed toward Boundary Pass. They seemed unperturbed by the flotilla of onlookers on commercial whale-watch vessels maintaining a respectful distance offshore of them, and they seemed to pay no attention to a couple of young humans in a small inflatable boat that leap-frogged along with them. Soundwatch had words with the young humans at least twice to caution them about potentially being a nuisance to the whales, but to no avail. To the onlookers aboard professionally driven whale-watch boats the young human behavior may have appeared to be a nuisance, and to the onlookers from the Pender Bluffs the entire scene may have appeared to be a nuisance; but, the whales continued in what appeared to be relaxed fashion toward Boundary Pass, perhaps to rendezvous with the T123’s later in the day. “Chimo” departed the whales at 1628 off Bedwell Harbor and returned home to Snug Harbor.
Indeed, the morning reports the following day (26 June) were of the T36A’s and T123’s together in Boundary Pass. There were also reports of whales “all over the place” (T36B’s, T49C’s, T77A’s, T124’s, T137’s, etc.) again in this delightful summer weather. Humpback whale reports are also numerous and widespread, mostly in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The only thing missing is an appearance by Resident Killer Whales. The whale survey coverage is virtually complete within the Salish Sea, so presumably the residents are elsewhere, hopefully finding plenty of salmon. We only have a few days left before we make a list of which SRKW’s are alive as of 1 July, the annual census date. The “L12’s” have yet to come into the Salish Sea this season to be counted. It looks like we will have to do our Orca Survey further out the Strait of Juan de Fuca and out on the outer coast to complete the survey, as I predicted years ago when the resident pods began to fragment and spread thinly in the interior habitat.