Encounter #66 - July 4, 2016
J40
J40

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J41
J41

Photo by Ken Balcomb

L87
L87

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J40
J40

Photo by Ken Balcomb

1/9

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

Date:

Sequence:

Enc Number:

Start Time:

End Time:

Vessel:

Observers:

Pods/ecotype:

Location:

Begin Lat/Long: End Lat/Long:

04-Jul-16

2

66

1606

1702

Shachi

Ken Balcomb

SRKW J pod

Turn Point

48 41 12.156N/123 14 23.946W

48 40 5.652N/123 13 42.642W

Encounter Summary: 

After leaving the Bigg’s Transient killer whales near Kelp Reef (Encounter 65), Ken headed north to Turn Point to meet with Granny’s subgroup of J pod that was spreading out and foraging in the very active swirls of incoming tide off the point. Presumably, an aggregation of salmon was riding in with the fast moving tide flow, but the sea surface was so turbulent that it was impossible to detect any predation events. J19 and J41 were the west flanking whales and J14, J37 and J49 were the east flanking whales while J2 and L87 charged in a zig zag pattern down the middle of the tide rips that shot up vertically like haystacks of water, dousing the boat and camera. The others (J40 and J45) were here and there in the swirls, surfacing with no particular pattern. It was quite challenging to take photographs in such conditions, but it was important to get some documentation of their occurrence and activity since they had not spent much time in the Salish Sea so far this year. A large group of killer whales (50+) was sighted about 4 miles northwest of Tatoosh Island on Saturday July 2, but as far as we know Granny’s subgroup of J pod was the only bunch of whales to come all of the way in to the core area and up to the Fraser River entrance. I hope that the remaining matrilines of SRKW’s come into the area soon so we can see who is still with us, and who might have a new baby. In previous years there seems to have been an alternation of habitat use between the residents and the Bigg’s Transient killer whales, but this year both ecotypes are in the area with very little distance or time between them. They still do not mix, however. Genetic studies demonstrate that they have not interbred for tens of thousands of generations (250,000 to 360,000 years), and they clearly have very different lifestyles. It is remarkable that whale-watchers can see two entirely different creatures with similar appearance in one day! This is a wonderful part of the world for such detailed study of a top marine predator species (or is it several top predator species? Resident, Transient, Offshore, etc.). Stay tuned!
The encounter ended at 1702 in Haro Strait north of Speiden Channel.