Encounter #78 - Aug 5, 2016

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J35 with porpoise calf
J35 with porpoise calf

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J35 with porpoise calf
J35 with porpoise calf

Photo by D.Giles


Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photos taken under Federal Permits



Enc Number:

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Dave Ellifrit, D. Giles, Professor Darren Croft from Exeter

J, L pods

Boundary Pass/Haro Strait

48 43.23/123 12.61

48 40.82/123 14.40

Encounter Summary: 

Whales had been found near East Point heading southwest down Boundary Pass toward Turn Point so we headed down to Snug Harbor and left aboard "Shachi" at 1315. "Shachi" arrived on scene at 1355 about a mile south of Bedwell Harbor. The whales were spread out in singles and pairs and the first whales we saw were members of the J16's.

A little bit behind the J16's, we found the L86's traveling together with J31 trailing right behind them. J31 was very active and spyhopped at least three times and did two half breaches. J31 also stopped and briefly chased a salmon once on her way toward Turn Point. Behind those whales, we found J37 and J49 mid-channel angling back toward Turn Point. Closer to Turn Point, we saw L90 and L92 together briefly before they split up and headed south down Haro Strait. We headed south a little to see if we could find some other whales and had J26 pass us again as he headed south. About a quarter mile ahead of J26, we found J16 and J50 again off Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island. J50 was playing with another calf who turned out to be L122.

Around 1500 while still with J16 and the calves off Tiptop Hill, Simon Pidcock reported that he had J35 and J47 north of Turn Point and that they had been playing with a newborn harbor porpoise calf for the past half hour. We headed up that way again and got on the whales involved at about 1510 just north of Turn Point. J35 and J47 were indeed playing around with a porpoise calf. Both whales pushed it around on their melons and it looked like it might have been in J35s' mouth at least once. We never saw any teeth marks on the porpoise and we don't believe the whales were actively trying to eat it but rather were just enjoying it as a plaything. J35 and J47 continued to push around the porpoise calf for the next ten minutes or so before they went on a long dive in a tide rip right off Turn Point and came up without it. J35 and J47 then began traveling south at fast speed and we never saw the porpoise calf again. It is likely that it was drowned or died from shock. We ended the encounter just south of Turn Point off the cormorant rookery on Stuart Island at 1540.