2018 Encounters

Encounter #14 - Mar 11, 2018
J49 belly flop

J49 belly flop

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J49 belly flop

J49 belly flop

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J40 aerial scan

J40 aerial scan

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J36 breach

J36 breach

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J37 breach

J37 breach

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

L87 with coal docks

L87 with coal docks

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J36 breach with Vancouver

J36 breach with Vancouver

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J46

J46

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J27

J27

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J36 spy hop with Mt. Baker

J36 spy hop with Mt. Baker

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

J38

J38

Photo by Melisa Pinnow

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Date: 11-Mar-18

Sequence: 2

Encounter Number: 14

Enc Start Time: 13:10

Enc End Time: 18:25

Vessel: Morning Star

Observers: Melisa Pinnow, Jane Cogan, Tom Cogan

Pods or ecotype: J Pod

Location: Georgia Strait

Begin Lat/Long: 49 04.133/-123 35.049

End Lat/Long: 48 53.219/-123 18.196

 

Encounter Summary:

Around 1140, a large group of southbound killer whales was seen offshore of Thrasher Rock in Georgia Strait. “Morning Star” was already out on the water after just finishing up Encounter 13 and headed for Georgia Strait via Trincomali Channel and Porlier Pass.

At 1310, J19 and J39 were found 4 miles north of Porlier Pass, east of Valdez Island in Georgia Strait. The two were spread out and slowly traveling southbound. A few whales were visible far to the east, so “Morning Star” slowly worked its way in that direction.

Twenty minutes later, J41 and J51 were located. The pair was foraging together and after a bit of milling, a salmon was rammed out of the water by J41. After a few minutes, “Morning Star” left them to look for more whales to the east. It was obvious now that J pod was spread over a very large area in the strait and that finding everyone was going to take some time.

Nearly twenty minutes later, L87 was located slowly traveling south by himself. After a few proof of presence photos, “Morning Star” continued east. About twenty minutes later at 1410, J35 and J47 were found traveling slowly south together. Ten minutes later, J27, J31, and J46 were found spread out and slowly traveling south. Shortly after, J40 and J45 were seen traveling south together. Then, J26, J22, J36, J37, J38, and J49 were found in a spread out and slowly heading south together.

By 1450, J16, J42, and J50 were found slowly traveling south together. These three were further east than any of the other whales. J42 was goofing off with multiple pec slaps and an aerial scan. With all of J pod moving at such a slow pace, all the whales were still northeast of Porlier Pass.

“Morning Star” headed back west and acquired better photos of J22 and J38, then J26 and J36. By 1532, a small but very playful social group was starting to form. It started with J37, J40, and J49. J45 paralleled the other three for a little bit before he joined too. Then J36 split off from J26 and spy hopped/breached her way over to the group. Then J46 suddenly appeared in the group. Dozens of tails slaps, cartwheels, breaches, spy hops, and aerial scans ensued. The group also gathered tightly together to log at the surface a few times. They would then get excited and roll all over each other. L87 eventually joined the group as well.

“Morning Star” followed along with the social group and by 1710, they were five miles northwest of Active Pass. The social group then moved closer to the Galiano Island shoreline and other whales, but J22, J26, J38, and others were still spread to the east. Spread out, backlit and hugging the Galiano shoreline was J17, J27, J31, J35, J41, J47, and J51. J47 and J51 were goofing off together.

The lead whales were seen further to the south at 1730. “Morning Star” reached them half an hour later as they neared the entrance of Active Pass. J19 was still in the lead, followed by J39, then J16 and J36. All four appeared committed to continuing south or southeast in Georgia Strait, and not taking Active Pass. “Morning Star” left them outside of Active Pass around 1835.

Notes-Comments: Though J44 and J53 were not seen during the encounter, they were likely hugging the Galiano shoreline with J17.

Photos are taken under Be Whale Wise Guidelines