T122

T122

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T46s with T36A3 in background

T46s with T36A3 in background

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T46E

T46E

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Beautiful Spike Africa cruises by at a respectful distance

Beautiful Spike Africa cruises by at a respectful distance

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T37

T37

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T34 in background

T34 in background

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T46D

T46D

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T37B1 and T37B

T37B1 and T37B

Photo by Ken Balcomb

T36A1

T36A1

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Encounter #62 - Aug 19, 2017

Date: 19-Aug-17

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 62

Enc Start Time: 13:24

Enc End Time: 13:40

Vessel: Shachi

Observers: Ken Balcomb, Gail Richard

Pods or ecotype: Bigg's Transient killer whales

Location: Haro Strait

Begin Lat/Long: 48 35 17.532N/123 13 2.4W

End Lat/Long: 48 36 19.794N/123 13 3.114W

 

Encounter Summary:

There were reports in the morning of a pod of whales including at least two males heading eastbound off Clover Point, Victoria toward Trial Island, and there was great hope that this would be a return of the “residents” whose last appearance in the Salish Sea was in early August. However, that hope was soon dashed when two very distinctive adult males in the group were identified – T46D and T46E. The group turned out to be the T46 matriline with T122 in company, along with T34, T36 and T37 and kin; and, they continued eastward past Seabird Point on Discovery Island toward San Juan Island by mid-day before turning northwest in Haro Strait, passing the Center for Whale Research shortly before 1300. They were at that time offshore at a distance of over a mile, and we could not specifically identify individuals other than T46D and T46E at that distance, so we set forth in “Shachi” for a brief photo reconnaissance to confirm group composition for our records. This is a continuation of a very remarkable summer in which Bigg’s Transient whales have dominated the encounters we or the whale-watching public have had. We are just keeping track of these sightings and encounters, and will make a summary report available to the public later this year.

 

No Fish, No Blackfish, at least of the resident kind. There are reports from ocean fishermen of ‘salmon’ finally moving toward the west entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but these have been mostly pink salmon. There were 11 adult Chinook salmon caught in a test fishery off Port San Juan (west entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca) on 19 August, and 88 “jacks” the day before, as compared with 173 Sockeye and 1,419 Pink salmon in the same two days. The Sockeye salmon are just starting to show up in the Albion Test Fishery in the Fraser River system, and a dozen Chinook have been caught there in the same recent two days. In way of comparison, forty-five Chinook were caught at Albion during a comparable time-frame in 2000; sixty-two were caught in 2010 during a comparable time-frame; and, twenty-nine were caught in a comparable time frame in 1981 when the test fishery started. In these early years of test fisheries, the human harvest of Chinook salmon utilizing the Strait of Juan de Fuca averaged 1,498,000 adult fish per year (average weight 15-17.5 pounds), and peaked at 1,918,000 Chinook caught! The average US dollar value per fish at the time was $29-33 (about $2 per pound). Times have changed, for fishermen and for whales. For Southern Resident Killer Whale survival, it behooves us to manage this Salish Sea ecosystem to return to a significant salmon biomass of natural run salmon to feed the whales, the forests, and the people. Chief Sealth said it clearly, “all things are connected”. We have a lot of ecosystem repairing to do, and the Bigg’s Transient whales are doing their part to bring the seal population (salmon predators) into balance, but they cannot help with dam removal and riparian habitat restoration for the salmon. People have to do that.

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

2017 Encounters