The Leaders

The Leaders

Photo by Ken Balcomb

L115, L47, L122 and L91

L115, L47, L122 and L91

Photo by Ken Balcomb

L105, L92 and L90

L105, L92 and L90

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Surf's Up

Surf's Up

Photo by Ken Balcomb

The trailers

The trailers

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Rooster-Tail

Rooster-Tail

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Encounter #60 - Aug 3, 2017

Date: 03-Aug-2017

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 60

Enc Start Time: 12:22

Enc End Time: 13:28

Vessel: Chimo

Observers: Ken Balcomb and Gail Richard

Pods or ecotype: L Pod

Location: Strait of Juan de Fuca

Begin Lat/Long: 48 17 27.336N/123 27 31.226W

End Lat/Long: 48 24 46.639N/123 12 28.338W

Encounter Summary:

We received a report of L whales inbound from Sooke to Race Rocks around 1030, so we scrambled from Port Angeles at 1125 with the intent of encountering them and then proceeding on to San Juan Island. The seas were glass calm with about three to four foot westerly swell during the crossing from PA to Race Rocks, but the air was extremely smoky due to forest fires that have raged this past week in British Columbia and in Washington State. The whales were reported to be in two groups heading easterly, so we aimed for the area where we thought we might find the trailing group in the vicinity of Race Rocks by the time we arrived. They were actually already past Race Rocks and heading easterly when we encountered the trailing group at 1222. This group consisted of L90, L91 and her son L122, L92, L72 and her son L105, L83 and her son L110, L47 and her son L115. After a quick inventory of whales, we left the whales and headed toward the leaders that were then off Trial Island. This group was the L4s in a group, but they soon spread apart off Seabird Discovery Island and headed toward False Bay San Juan Island. A container ship transited westbound directly in their path and provided “surf” for several of the whales for about one minute. The water pressure ridge created by the bulbous bow and mass of the ship created a six foot wave that three of the whales rode briefly while creating “rooster-tails” of spray from their dorsal fin.

 

The whales had spread over a very broad area by the time they reached the shores of San Juan Island and they spent the rest of the day very spread out as far as Iceberg Point on Lopez to Hannah Heights San Juan Island by sunset. They were heard by Jeanne Hyde on the Lime Kiln hydrophone for three hours in the middle of the night. In the morning  of 4 August they were reported heading west near Race Rocks, thus ending yet another brief encounter with SRKWs in the Salish Sea this year.

 

By 1317 on 4 August, Chimo followed L pod to Otter Point on their outbound travels, but the breeze was freshening and the seas were becoming choppy with a five foot swell, so we turned back to Port Angeles without taking photos. The whales by then were spread out in a line abreast from nearshore to 1.5 miles offshore, heading west.

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

2017 Encounters