Encounter #68 - July 8, 2016
J19 greeting
J19 greeting

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Photo by Ken Balcomb

20160708KCB_JF1-0195_J46 crop
20160708KCB_JF1-0195_J46 crop

J19 greeting
J19 greeting

Photo by Ken Balcomb

1/16

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:

08-Jul-16

1

68

1422

1820

Shachi

Ken Balcomb

Florian Graner

SRKW J pod

Race Rocks to Bellevue Point

48 19.232N/123 27.647W

48 30 22.02N/123 9 16.122W

Encounter Summary: 

Mark and Hannah Malleson conducted an early reconnaissance in “Mike 1” and encountered group B of J pod near Secretary Island at 0830, and shortly afterward there was a report of group A of J pod rounding the south end of Lopez Island and heading up Haro Strait, much like yesterday. The group B travelled very slowly inbound against an ebbing tide in matrilineal assemblages, coalescing and expanding alternately in a leisurely arrangement over a moving area perhaps one half mile square. Florian Graner and Ken Balcomb waited for both the A and B groups to get a little closer before heading out in “Shachi” at 1322, when the B group was near Race Rocks and the A group was approaching the south end of San Juan Island. We headed out to the B group and encountered them at 1415 about two and one half miles northeast of Race Rocks, still heading inbound against an ebbing tide. The whales travelled past the entrance to Victoria harbor as a large cruise ship was leaving the harbor, and seemed to pay no attention as the ship passed by just in front of them. A few of the ship’s passengers lined the rail to watch the laid back whale show, but most seemed to go about whatever ship’s activities had been planned for the day. Perhaps they had no idea they were within hailing range of the region’s most precious icons.
The whales cruised by the Victoria waterfront, the sewage outfall, and the homes between downtown and the golf course near Oak Bay, still seeming to pay no attention to the humanity around them. A few whale-watch vessels paralleled the procession of whales at respectful distance as they swam past Trial Island and headed toward Seabird on Discovery Island. Upon reaching the vicinity of Seabird at 1643, the whales spread in a large U-shaped formation and speeded up heading toward San Juan Island. Meanwhile, the A group had travelled in a very spread formation up the coast of San Juan Island to a little northwest of Lime Kiln lighthouse and turned back south just as the B group speeded up. We can only envision a school of salmon within the U moving with the now flooding tide toward the rocky face of San Juan Island. Was this all planned? Or is the impending meeting of the two groups simply serendipity. The meeting itself was rather uneventful except for a brief apparent greeting of the respective cohorts of adult males that followed each other around in circles, young whales that frolicked, and some serious splashing and a few breaches by the others.
For the remainder of the day, until 1827 when we ended the encounter, the whales comingled and spread along the west side of San Juan Island, apparently foraging and vocalizing. We saw all of J pod except for J27, J31, and J39, who may have split off from B group earlier and missed the greeting. We shall be on the lookout for those whales in the near future.
In the morning of 9 July, as this summary is being written, members of all of today’s matrilines were seen travelling southeast in Haro Strait in front of CWR in a very spread out pattern. The B group is now mixed in with the A group, and the only members we have not seen are J27, et. al. In this mix and match year, maybe they are with K or L pod?