Encounter #86 - Aug 20, 2016

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L123 breach
L123 breach

Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photo by Dave Ellifrit


Photos taken under Federal Permits



Enc Number:

Start Time:

End Time:





Begin Lat/Long: End Lat/Long:







Dave Ellifrit

J, K, and L pods

Haro Strait

48 38.43/123 12.81

48 22.49/123 01.37

Encounter Summary: 

Jane Cogan called Dave at home at 0617 to report she was seeing whales heading north. Dave headed over to CWR and then down to Snug Harbor and left aboard "Shachi" at 0705. Dave found his first whale a little north of Battleship Rock at 0715 and this was L87 and he was traveling north at medium speed by himself.

A few other whales were about a half mile to the northwest of L87 about mid-Haro Strait. This was J2, J40, and J45 traveling north together although they soon angled toward Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island. It was worrisome that J14 was not traveling nearby J40 and J45 as she usually is. More whales could be seen up ahead porpoising north along the Stuart Island shoreline. Dave headed up closer to Turn Point to see who the leaders were. These turned out to be the J19s, J37s, and L4s and they were spread out in small groups and individuals. L118 was hanging with L103 and L123. L123 was quite active and breached a couple of times and photos were obtained that confirmed he is another male. The L103s and L118 had one brief active bout of fish chasing off Turn Point before they continued north. They were joined by L82 and L116 and this group angled toward Bedwell Harbor although they seemed committed to heading up Swanson Channel. L55 herself and L109 were about a quarter mile to the northwest of the other L55s. J19 joined this pair briefly and they rolled around together for a short period. L109 also briefly played with a small piece of kelp and all three whales breached once at different times. Dave left the Js and Ls heading north at the lower end of Swanson Channel at 0843 still spread out in individuals and small groups. L116, L118, and L123 began porpoising to catch back up to their relatives who had moved on ahead a little.

After a stop at Roche Harbor to add 35 gallons of fuel to "Shachi", Dave headed back out to see the whales who had been found earlier off the south end of SJI. Dave got on scene with these whales at 0942 halfway between Lime Kiln and Bellevue Point. These whales were the K13s, L26s, L47s, and L72s and they were also spread out in singles and small groups as they traveled north up Haro Strait. L92 brought up the rear of these whales and Dave left him just north of Lime Kiln at 1052 to go to the L54s, L84 and L88 who had been found about 4-5 miles southwest of Discovery Island. Dave arrived on scene with this small group at 1120 still in about the same place they had been found. The L54s, L84, and L88 were in a tight group moving slowly east. They briefly loosened up while moving along a tide line before tightening back up again. Dave left this group at 1150 just a little northeast of where they were found.

By about 1225, Dave was back off Eagle Point about two miles out. J16 and J50 were traveling slowly north together and J42 was a few hundred yards to the east of them. The J36s and K16s were loosely spread out and traveling quickly north closer to shore north of Eagle Point. K35 chased a fish just south of False Bay. South of these whales but north of Eagle Point, K12, K37, and K43 were milling together. These three were rolling around and splashing and there were lots of spyhops. Photos revealed that three were apparently sharing a very chewed up salmon. "Shachi" was shut down observing the threesome when K37 left the other two and passed the research boat and immediately began chasing another salmon on the other side. K12 and K43 soon came over too but K37 was the one chasing the smallish salmon all around the boat. K37 vigorously chased the salmon for 3-4 minutes but it was unclear whether he finally caught it or not.

Dave moved south and found L22 and L89 spread out and heading slowly south off American Camp around 1315. The next nearest batch of whales were reported to be near Hein Bank so Dave headed out there where the K14s were tight, milling, and somewhat evasive near the east marker at the bank. The J22s and J17s were reported to be another 3-4 miles south of Hein Bank but Dave decided to end the encounter with the K14s at Hein Bank at 1419.