• Encounter #69 - July 10, 2016 •
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 288
Begin Lat/Long: End Lat/Long:
Bigg's Killer Whales
48 33 18.498N/123 10 16.932W
48 41 30.042N/123 12 51.87W
Mark and Hannah Malleson conducted a far-west survey in “Mike 1” today looking for the rest of the SRKW’s as most of J pod meandered down Rosario Strait and came around the south end of Lopez Island bound for Haro Strait and the “west-side shuffle”. The conditions were pristine Beaufort Zero (mint) as “Mike 1” transited from Victoria to Neah Bay, and thence to Carmanah Point before returning along the west coast of Vancouver Island on the Canadian side to Victoria. Two minke whales were encountered in mid-strait south of Sooke, but no additional SRKW’s were to be found. This is quite a wide distribution of SRKW’s for this time of year!
Meanwhile, in the interior waters of the Salish Sea the occurrence of Bigg’s Transient whales continues to be quite interesting – T49A’s were just ahead of the J’s as they travelled down Rosario Strait, and they ducked in through Thatcher Pass and came through Upright Channel and up San Juan Channel past Friday Harbor toward Speiden Channel during the day. The J’s meanwhile were very spread out doing their fish-hunting along one of their usual paths circumnavigating the San Juan Islands. The whale-watchers had their choice of venues: watch residents hunt for Chinook salmon or watch transients hunt for seals, or both. Or, watch humpback whales out in the Juan de Fuca Strait and maybe go west or down to Partridge Bank to see minke whales, or chance upon the fin whale that appears once in awhile (a different fin whale than the one that hung around the eastern Strait last year).
In the late afternoon Jeanne Hyde reported that T49A had some new scars when she saw the Bigg’s whales in Speiden Channel. That seemed worth documenting, so Ken set out in “Shachi” to investigate. He caught up with the whales just south of Turn Point at 1730 just before they entered Boundary Pass. T49A was briefly carrying some prey remains when first encountered, but this was not evident until the photographs were examined. From the surface behaviors one could not be certain that they were hunting, except the dives were long duration and the surfacings were far apart and frequently changing in direction. The whales were quickly photo-documented and left to go on their way toward Canadian waters of the Gulf Islands as the day ended.