Encounter #74 - July 24, 2016
T65A4
T65A4

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T65A3
T65A3

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T65A2
T65A2

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T65A4
T65A4

Photo by Ken Balcomb

1/5

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

Date:

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24-Jul-16

1

 74

1632

1644

Chimo

Ken Balcomb

Bigg's Killer Whales

Partridge Point

48 12 5N/122 45 277W

48 12 18N/122 46 19W

Encounter Summary: 

Ken Balcomb departed Snug Harbor at 1500 to deliver “Chimo” to John Wayne Marina for haulout and routine maintenance when the VHF radio received a report of a fin whale sighted in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, midway between Victoria and Port Angeles. This particular individual fin whale has been in the eastern Strait for over a week feeding with a mobile aggregation of humpback whales, but we at CWR have yet to encounter it due to KW’s being more of a priority. The reported location of the fin whale was only about ten miles west of the trackline to John Wayne, so Ken nudged “Chimo’s” course to the west into the pervasive chop of wind-driven onseys-twoseys in hopes of finding the leviathan for documentation. Many of the whale-watch operators and the veteran Mark Malleson had already seen and documented this fin whale and shown it to be different from the one seen last year in the same region for over a month.
In mid-strait before reaching the fin whale, the VHF crackled again with a report of “black and whites” exiting Admiralty Inlet and heading toward Partridge Bank. The course to Partridge Point was much more agreeable for sea state, and killer whales are more of a priority, so Ken changed course at 1540 to intercept them. Never mind the slog back to John Wayne would be a bit more challenging after the encounter with the forecasted increasing westerly winds of late afternoon. Just before 1630 “Chimo” arrived on scene as “Chilkat” was departing. The whales were reported to be taking long dives and travelling, but going in a fairly steady direction, so Ken stopped and waited off the bluffs of Partridge Point about ¼ mile offshore.
The first surfacing of the whales during the brief encounter was at 1632 several hundred yards away from the boat, and within four minutes they came right over and presented a perfect opportunity for left-side ID photos before diving again for 4 ½ minutes. When they came up, they were several hundred yards toward the west, and generally headed toward Partridge Bank. The last photo of them was taken at 1644, ending a twelve minute encounter before slogging into a choppy sea for forty minutes before reaching John Wayne Marina at 1720. This was another great day in spite of the forecast. It just validates the water rat’s quote: “there is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite so much worth doing as simply mucking around in boats.”