T170

T170

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T117B

T117B

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T117A

T117A

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

spyhop

spyhop

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T49C

T49C

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T117B flukes

T117B flukes

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T36A and T36A2

T36A and T36A2

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T117A and T36A milling

T117A and T36A milling

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T117B and T172

T117B and T172

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T117A and T170

T117A and T170

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T170

T170

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T170

T170

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T49C

T49C

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Encounter #42 - June 9, 2017

Date: 09-Jun-17

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 42

Enc Start Time: 11:15

Enc End Time: 13:25

Vessel: Orcinus

Observers: Ken Balcomb and Dave Ellifrit

Pods or ecotype: Transients

Location: Kelp Reef/lower Gulf Islands

Begin Lat/Long: 48 30.30/123 12.43

End Lat/Long: 48 38.00/123 15.46

 

Encounter Summary:

After hearing a report in the morning of whales north of False Bay coming up the west side of San Juan Island, Ken headed down to Land Bank to take a look. While he was gone, Dave heard an updated report that the whales were a good group of transients so he decided to go down to Lime Kiln to also take a look. Dave got to Lime Kiln at about 1030 to see boats on whales about a mile or so southwest of the park. After taking some dot shots from shore, Dave looked at the photos on the back of his camera and saw a whale that had to be T170-a very rare transient to the area and one that was very high on everyone’s “would really like to see” list. Dave told the people he was talking to that he had to go and ran back to the car as fast as he could. Mark Malleson soon confirmed that there were a couple of other whales he didn’t recognize so Ken and Dave met down at Snug Harbor and left on the boat at 1100.
We arrived on scene a couple miles south of Kelp Reef at 1115. The whales were spread out in small groups and individuals. We first checked out the leaders who were a pair of females and a sprouter who was traveling a couple hundred yards to the east of the pair. All three whales were traveling north fast. The sprouter was identified by Jared Towers as T117A after Mark sent a picture to him. The pair of females were T172 and another whale that Jared later identified as T117B. To our knowledge, this was the first time that T117A and T117B were photographed in the central Salish Sea. We left the front three whales at 1152 and went to the other whales who had caught up at this point but were about a half mile to the west. As the whales approached Kelp Reef, a big group of harbor porpoise was seen just south of the reef but no obvious attack occurred. T117A, T117B, and T172 passed to the east of Kelp Reef while T170 and most of the T36As passed a bit more slowly a quarter mile to the west of the reef. T49C and T36A1 both slinked around closer to the reef but did not seem to make a kill and T49C soon moved off to the east.

After getting good ID shots on T170 and the T36As and leaving them off the southeast side of Sydney Island, we went looking for any more whales who might be in the area. We found T49C again about three quarters of a mile to the southeast as he steamed north up Haro Strait. Another mile or so to the northeast was T117B and T172 again. By about 1250, they were milling and appeared to be feeding on something. T117B did a reverse surfacing and we could smell blubber oil but could not see what they may have killed. We soon left this pair and headed back west toward the other whales nearing Halibut Island. By 1305, T117A and T36A1 had joined T170 and the rest of T36As and they were all milling a little south of Halibut Island. Here, the T36As killed a harbor porpoise and more milling ensued along with slow progress north. T49C glided through and moved off to the northeast. T170, the T36As, and T117A continued slowly north with lots of milling while loosely spread. We ended the encounter at 1325 just a little east of Halibut Island.

Take ACTION

for Orcas

We appreciate your support.

Photos taken under Federal Permits
NMFS PERMIT: 15569-01/ DFO SARA 388

2017 Encounters