• Encounter #99 - Sept 14, 2016 •
Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 388
Begin Lat/Long: End Lat/Long:
Orcinus and Mike 1
Dave Ellifrit - Orcinus, Mark Malleson,
Hannah Magnuson- Mike 1
J, K Pods
48 35.00/123 12.00
48 35.26/123 12.43
Mark Malleson and Hannah Magnuson got out early in the morning aboard "Mike 1" and encountered J and K pods as they traveled east near Constance Bank. Dave and Giles launched "Orcinus" in the early afternoon after the whales had made it across to San Juan Island and were heading north in Haro Strait. After "Orcinus" made it back to Snug Harbor, Giles switched to the orca scat detection boat "Moja" and Dave headed back out of Snug Harbor in "Orcinus" at 1435.
There was a large, tight, active group of whales just south of Open Bay. This group appeared to be socializing and included J22, J31, J34, J35, J37, J40, J41, J46, J49, J51, and K36. This group was non-directional and vigorously milling. Several animals briefly logged at the surface. There was a lot of rolling and splashing before the whales would all blow powerfully going different directions and then dive deeply. Simon Pidcock aboard "Taku" told Dave over the radio that J28 was last seen up around Kellett Bluff so "Orcinus" left the large socializing group after just a few minutes to find her.
"Orcinus" next encountered K27, J17, J44, and J53 spread out near the south end of Kellett Bluff. J44 and J53 were working together in a slow chase of a salmon. A little farther north up the bluff, K13, K20, and K38 were in a tight group moving south a few hundred yards west of Kellett. Another whale was traveling alone closer to the bluff and this was J28. She was looking thin as she moved slowly south down Kellett Bluff. "Orcinus" only spent a few minutes with J28 before helping the NOAA research boat get on her.
"Orcinus" moved on briefly to K13 and the K20s a little offshore as they continued south before heading another several hundred yards offshore where J47 and K44 were in the process of pursuing a salmon. J45 showed up from offshore and headed back toward Kellett Bluff. By 1535, several whales from the large group that had been socializing near Open Bay earlier were moving north up the bluff while several other whales that had been north of the bluff were now heading south. The groups met in the middle of Kellett and there was more socializing while other whales continued south. Offshore and to the south of these whales, K13 and the K20s were now traveling with K27, K12, K37, and K43. K37 soon moved a couple of hundred yards to the west of the group. The K12s and K13s group was active and moved quickly south in Mitchell Bay. The whales were moving quickly on their short dives but did not seem to be going very far on their long dives. K44 eventually joined this group and it split into two tight groups with the K20s and K27s in the lead and K13, K12, and K43 less then a hundred yards behind them.
After leaving the K12s and K13s, "Orcinus" moved back north and found the K14s heading south in a tight group about a quarter mile southwest of the south end of Kellett Bluff. K36 and K42 were active and splashing around together. These whales continued south as had most of J and K pods and "Orcinus" ended the encounter in Mitchell Bay just west of Snug Harbor at 1633. J2, L87, and the J16s were the northernmost whales and had continued north. They were reported to be near Enterprise Reef south of Active Pass in the evening.