T49A3 and T49A

T49A3 and T49A

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T49A1 with something in his mouth

T49A1 with something in his mouth

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T49A1 spyhop

T49A1 spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T49A1 with Waldron Island in the background

T49A1 with Waldron Island in the background

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T49A1

T49A1

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T49A3

T49A3

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Encounter #29 - Apr 18, 2017

Date: 18-Apr-17

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 29

Enc Start Time: 10:20

Enc End Time: 12:07

Vessel: Orcinus

Observers: Dave Ellifrit

Pods or ecotype: T49As

Location: President Channel

Begin Lat/Long: 48 37.00/123 00.00

End Lat/Long: 48 40.00/123 00.00

 

Encounter Summary:

After morning calls from Jane Cogan and Jeanne Hyde relaying a report of whales sighted heading west near the Orcas ferry landing, Dave grabbed his gear and headed for the boat. “Orcinus” arrived on scene at about 1020 as the whales were exiting North Pass. The four whales were the T49As and they were loosely spread out and milling. They had been reported to have made a kill just prior to Dave’s arrival. T49A1 spyhopped twice.
The whales grouped up and headed west into Spring Passage between Jones Island and the southwest tip of Orcas Island. At 1032, the whales began milling and T49A3 made several upside down passes under the boat reconfirming he is still a male. The whales then pointed south and went on a very long dive. The boats present split Jones Island and “Orcinus” went around the south side to see if they showed up there. While it was unclear if a surfacing was missed (Dave thinks not), the whales were not re-sighted for over ten minutes before they finally re-appeared off the southwest side of Jones Island. They briefly freaked out a Steller sea lion but left it unharmed. The T49As then travelled around the west side of Jones Island before spreading out on the northwest side of the island. The whales began milling in that area and apparently made an inconspicuous kill on a harbor seal or porpoise. Other than some brief fin shaking from T49A1, there was no real evidence of a kill until blubber oil was smelled in the air and then some small snotty floating pieces appeared. Even the gulls missed this kill as there were none around to pick up the pieces. Photos later revealed that T49A1 did have something in his mouth when he passed near the boat.
The whales then began travelling slowly northeast up the west shoreline of Orcas Island. Since more boats were arriving on scene, Dave decided to move out and ahead and headed north up President Channel in hopes that other transients might appear to the north. No such luck at the time and it was another half hour before “Orcinus” was within a mile of a whale. By about 1148, T49A1 appeared nearby heading slowly northeast almost a half mile ahead of and inshore of the other three whales. Dave ended the encounter around 1207 with one last pass at T49A, T49A3, and T49A4 as they headed slowly northeast up lower President Channel.

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

2017 Encounters