T37A2 breach

T37A2 breach

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T77 and T77E

T77 and T77E

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

spyhop

spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T37A spyhop

T37A spyhop

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T77 taillobs on seal

T77 taillobs on seal

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T77 taillobs on seal again

T77 taillobs on seal again

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T77D and T77B

T77D and T77B

T37A3 and T37A4

T37A3 and T37A4

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

20170712DKE_GS1-166_

20170712DKE_GS1-166_

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T77B

T77B

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Encounter #51 - July 12, 2017

Date: 12-Jul-17

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 51

Enc Start Time: 10:20

Enc End Time: 11:10

Vessel: Orcinus

Observers: Dave Ellifrit

Pods or ecotype:Transients

Location: Northeast side of Gabriola Island

Begin Lat/Long: 49 11.52/123 47.43

End Lat/Long: 49 11.20/123 47.02

 

Encounter Summary:

To celebrate his 50th birthday, Dave wanted to go on an epic early morning whale search so he set the alarm for too early, got ready, and headed down to the boat and got off the dock at 0515. First, Dave headed up Haro Strait a little to the east of Halibut and Gooch Islands and then headed west under Moresby Island to west of Portland Island. From there, Dave went back east across lower Swanson, past Bedwell Harbor and up Boundary Pass near the S. Pender and Saturna Island’s shorelines. The water in Boundary Pass was pretty lumpy except for the Narvaez Bay area on Saturna Island. The water flattened out with a bit of a roll near East Point but the water in the Patos/Sucia Islands direction where Dave had planned to go looked a little too excited to be worth searching while it looked beautiful to the northwest so he went that way instead. It was flat calm from Tumbo Channel to past Active Pass and halfway up the Galiano Island shoreline. Since it was so nice north of Active Pass and not yet 10am, Dave continued north about a mile off the Galiano Island shoreline. Once there, Dave did a little loop north and east of Porlier Pass for a final look and was going to head home when Mark Malleson called and said there was a group of Ts heading south north of Nanaimo. The nice water had been replaced by one and two footers, the sky had become overcast, and the whales were still Gabriola Island away but the water wasn’t too bad, there was plenty of day left, and Dave was pretty sure he was okay on fuel, so he kept going north to meet the whales.
Vancouver whale watch boats had been passing to the north and could be seen stopping miles ahead and Dave finally got on scene at 1020 about a mile or so south of Entrance Island off the north end of Gabriola Island to find the T37As and the T77s coming south in a loose group before stopping and milling. There was a second bull in the area who headed inshore right before arrival and Dave never saw him despite the whale watch boats occasionally catching glimpses of him far to the periphery of the group. We suspect this male was T51. The T37As and the T77s soon started milling and it was clear they had a seal trapped. There was an extended attack on the harbor seal that took about fifteen minutes with several whales taking swipes at the seal. After they made the kill, the whales began moving slowly south with quite a bit of milling. There were numerous breaches and spy hops as the whales fed while as they milled around. Dave ended the encounter at 1110 about three miles south of Entrance Island with the whales still feeding and pointed slowly south. Dave went through Gabriola Pass and headed home down Trincomali Channel on the inside of the Gulf Islands to avoid an increasingly lumpy Georgia Strait and made it to the Roche Harbor fuel dock shortly before 1400.

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

2017 Encounters