Encounter #59 - June 27, 2016
T123
T123

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T36A1
T36A1

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T123
T123

Photo by Ken Balcomb

1/17

Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 288

Date:

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27-Jun-16

1

59

1856

1946

Chimo

Ken Balcomb

Bigg's Killer Whales

New Channel

48 33.2N/123 10.2W

48 38.5N/123 07.2W

Encounter Summary: 

High pressure offshore and low pressure over land brought westerly winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, forecast to increase to gale force by late afternoon. Again today there were reports of small groups of Bigg’s Transient killer whales all over the place, but none were reported around the San Juan Archipelago. A humpback whale swam leisurely northwest in front of the Center for Whale Research in Haro Strait during the mid-day calm before the breeze came up, and for much of the day this whale and a minke whale near Green Point, Speiden Island, were the only local attractions for the whale-watchers. Both were rather cryptic in behavior, however.
A little after 6PM, the radio crackled with a report of “black and whites” near White Rock off the southwest end of Waldron Island. Where in the world were they earlier? Ken embarked in “Chimo” and encountered this group of very active Transient killer whales in Boundary Pass in tide rips at the confluence of New Channel between Speiden Island and the Cactus Islands. They were zig-zagging in a tight group in the currents and surfacing in very unpredictable places, either near or far from the several whale-watching boats that had gathered in response to the report. At least twice they preyed upon harbor seals that were unlucky enough to be found in the swirls of tide that bounced “Chimo” and the other boats around. T124C popped up right alongside “Chimo” by himself, and then disappeared in the currents, as the other whales chased around hundreds of yards away. T123 raced off into New Channel in an apparent high speed chase, accompanied by a youngster that appeared mostly as a volume of spray in her foamy trail. The T36A’s and T75B’s and T123A romped around as a group during most of the encounter. The field identification of these whales was very challenging because there was no time to “chimp” the photos as things were happening all around and the boat was being tossed around. Slowly but surely, we are documenting virtually all of the Bigg’s Transient killer whales that frequent the Salish Sea. Where are the Residents?