Encounter #14 - Feb 25, 2016
J34 surfaces next to an inverted L87
J34 surfaces next to an inverted L87

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J16s
J16s

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

J17 and J53
J17 and J53

Photo by D. Giles

J34 surfaces next to an inverted L87
J34 surfaces next to an inverted L87

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

1/16

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 272

Date:

Sequence:

Enc Number:

Start Time:

End Time:

Vessel:

Observers:

Pods/ecotype:

Location:

Begin Lat/Long:

End Lat/Long:

25-Feb-16

1

14

11:57

15:46

Orca

Dave Ellifrit, D. Giles

J pod and L87

Haro Strait

48 36.31/123 12.23

48 46.00/123 18.50

Encounter Summary: 

Jeanne Hyde called Dave at home at 0900 to report she was hearing J pod calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophone. After giving Ken a boat ride to Oak Bay and then checking back in with Customs at Roche Harbor, Dave picked up Giles at the fuel dock and Orca headed out again at 1145.

Orca got on scene at 1157 off Kellett Bluff. The whales were very spread out from Kellet Bluff to all the way across the strait. J19 was the first whale we saw and she headed north by herself. Following J19 were several spread out J17's including J17 herself with her calf J53 right beside her. J40 was also seen all by herself before she headed offshore and began actively foraging with J47. J44 caught up with J17 and J53 near Battleship Rock.
Orca then headed west across Haro Strait in an attempt to find more whales. The whales were very spread out but we started seeing a few more individuals on the Canadian side of the border. We saw J31 foraging by herself and then J37 and J49 spread out from one another also foraging in a westerly manner. J27 and another whale got by to the west of us while J14 and J45 headed north to the east of us. The J28's, including J54, were behind the J14's in a tight group also heading north. J45 briefly foraged with J31 while J40 was seen to reappear and joined J14. We had been hoping to find the newest J pod calf J55 with one of the J14 females but it was clear that that calf was now gone as it was not with J14, J37, or J40. J27 and J31 joined up and traveled slowly north together in the Gooch Island area.
We knew there were whales still west of us as both Legacy and Morning Star reported seeing J2, L87, and the J22's west of Tom Point on Gooch Island. However, a new relatively large group appeared all the way on the other side of the strait just a little northwest of Spieden Island. Since we thought that was a group we hadn't seen yet, we headed back across the strait and found out that they were the J16's all in a tight group, moving slowly north and appearing to be resting. We left the J16's at about 1350 off Tiptop Hill on Stuart Island and headed back northwest to find the whales on the other side of Haro strait that we had not seen yet.
We had another pass at the J28's as they continued north mid-Haro Strait before seeing more spread out whales nearing Moresby Island. J2, L87, J37, J49, and the J22's came together briefly as a group right along the shoreline on the southeast side of Moresby Island. This group was doing a lot of tail lobbing, making us wonder if they were moving fish along ahead of them.

This group split up as they moved away from the shoreline and began heading northeast back toward the North Pender Island bluffs. J27 and J31 showed up again and joined J2 and the J37's while J34 and L87 fooled around with one another. J45 and J38 were also socializing.

All the whales seemed to stall out at the south end of Swanson Channel but were still spread out in singles and small groups. Some of the leaders like J39 and the J19's began milling before briefly heading back south nearer to the other whales. The J19's soon turned again and headed slowly north. J41 and J51 were the last two J pod members we needed to find before we could say that all members of J pod (and L87) except for the newest calf J55 were present today. We ended the encounter at 1546 near Beddis Rocks with all the whales heading slowly north up Swanson Channel spread out in small groups.