Encounter #10 - Feb 9, 2016
gulls dive for scraps in front of T60C
gulls dive for scraps in front of T60C

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T60s on the north side of Long Island
T60s on the north side of Long Island

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

bald eagle on Colville Island
bald eagle on Colville Island

Photo by D. Giles

gulls dive for scraps in front of T60C
gulls dive for scraps in front of T60C

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

1/14

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 272

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09-Feb-16

1

10

10:58

14:05

Orca

Dave Ellifrit, D. Giles, Cindy Hansen

Transients

T2B, T60, T60C, T60D, T60E, and T60F

south Haro Strait

48 25.37/122 57.55

48 25.05/122 48.96

Encounter Summary: 

After receiving reports from Sandy Buckley and others of a small group of whales moving down the west side of San Juan Island in the morning, Dave, Giles, and Cindy met at Snug Harbor and left aboard Orca at 1020. Orca headed down to Salmon Bank and stopped to scan with binoculars. We turned off the engine and immediately heard a blow and soon found the whales just a little southeast of the Salmon Bank buoy.

The T60's along with T2B were feeding on something that they had killed prior to our arrival. The six whales were a little spread out in a small group or two and individuals. T60D approached the research boat and glided upside down underneath us while we were in neutral and confirmed once again that he is a male. T60C was sporting some new rake marks on his dorsal fin caused by another killer whale. Gulls were diving and fighting over some sizable scraps but we were not able to confirm what the whales were feeding on. The whales remained feeding in the same area for almost forty five minutes making us think they must have killed something larger then a mere harbor seal. We could not catch a whale with something in its mouth nor did we see any recognizable parts or blubber floating around so what they were feeding on remained a mystery.

By about 1150, the whales appeared to stop feeding, grouped up, and began traveling southeasterly toward Cattle Pass. They passed up Whale Rock and a large group of Steller sea lions in the water who were spyhopping and alarmed even though the whales didn't come within a quarter of a mile of them. The transients gave Whale Rock a wide birth and then turned back southeast and headed toward Iceberg Point on the north sides of Long and Hall Islands. The whales began spreading out again. T60E and T60F remained with T60 but the others fanned out and were foraging again. The whales all came back together again near Iceberg Point as they began traveling east again near the south Lopez Island shoreline.

At about 1315, the whales began milling vigorously a little east of Iceberg Point. They appeared to make a kill but we were too far away to see what it was. The kill was soon over and the whales began briefly steaming east before slowing down again. The whales then traveled slowly east in a loose group between Colville Island and the south end of Lopez Island. We ended the encounter at 1405 with the whales east of Davidson Rock and beginning to point up Rosario Strait.