Heads or Tails

Heads or Tails

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46

T46

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T46E

T46E

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Photo by Mark Malleson

diving gulls

diving gulls

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Encounter #25 - Mar 25, 2017

Date: 25-Mar-17

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 25

Enc Start Time: 11:07

Enc End Time: 12:38

Vessel: Orcinus

Observers: Dave Ellifrit

Pods or ecotype:T36s, T46s, T99s

Location: north end of SJ Channel

Begin Lat/Long: 48 39.84/123 03.05

End Lat/Long: 48 36.25/123 04.93

 

Encounter Summary:

Jane Cogan called Dave at home to relay a report that some whales had been found off the south end of Waldron Island. Dave grabbed his boat gear and headed down to Snug Harbor and left aboard “Orcinus” at 1045. “Orcinus” arrived on scene at 1107, less than a mile south of Point Disney on Waldron Island not far from where they were reported. “J1” had reported that the whales had made a kill or two earlier and they were diving non-directionally and feeding in the same spot when “Orcinus” arrived.

The whales turned out to be the T36s and T46s and soon they all began heading south in a fairly tight group although T46D dropped behind the others by thirty yards or so. One whale was seen carrying meat in her mouth and many gulls were diving to pick up scraps in the whale’s wake. They were pointed southwest on a line that would take them west of Flattop Island and east of Green Point on the east end of Spieden Island for about ten minutes before turning south and passing Flattop Island on the east side by 1130. T46D was now a couple hundred yards to the northwest of the others. The whales continued south toward the O’Neal Island area on the northeast side of San Juan Island. “Orcinus” followed at a distance for the next half hour until the whales spread out in Rocky Bay and began hunting again. T36B1 may have headed down SJ Channel. Most of the whales soon acted like they had a seal pinned on the bottom as they split into groups and alternated their long dives. T46D and T46E were loosely spread from each other and alternated with the others. It was unclear when the kill was made but the whales milled around a half mile or so southeast of O’Neal Island for about fifteen minutes. A little earlier, a couple of boats out of Friday Harbor found a another small group of whales heading north in San Juan Channel on their way to the T36s and T46s. These whales turned out to be the T99s and T36B1 had probably gone down to join them. By 1230, the T99s had joined the others and all the whales become social. Several whales floated around at the surface while young whales rolled around. There were a lot of vocalizations and raspberries being blown above the surface by the logging whales. The whales were pointed south in the same area in an excited group when “Orcinus” ended the encounter 1238. Blubber oil from the whale’s last kill could be smelled in the air upon departure.

The whales were later reported to have headed down San Juan Channel past Friday Harbor and then turned south and passed out Cattle Pass. They were last seen in the MacArthur Bank area.

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Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 15569/ DFO SARA 388

2017 Encounters