2018 Encounters

Encounter #19 - Mar 21, 2018
The J16s

The J16s

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Tail lob

Tail lob

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Spyhop

Spyhop

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Another Spyhop

Another Spyhop

Photo by Ken Balcomb

passing Trial Island

passing Trial Island

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J27 and ship

J27 and ship

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J45 & J44

J45 & J44

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J44 backlit

J44 backlit

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Sea Lions observing J pod

Sea Lions observing J pod

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J pod passing Discovery Lighthouse

J pod passing Discovery Lighthouse

Photo by Ken Balcomb

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Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 15569-01/ DFO SARA 388

and Be Whale Wise Guidelines

Date: 21-Mar-18

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 19

Enc Start Time: 14:42

Enc End Time: 16:51

Vessel: Chimo and Morning Star

Observers: Ken Balcomb in Chimo // Melisa Pinnow, Jane Cogan, Tom Cogan in Morning Star

Pods or ecotype: J Pod

Location: Strait of Juan de Fuca

Begin Lat/Long: 19 534.876N/123 26.27W

End Lat/Long: Seabird, Discovery Island 

 

Encounter Summary:

In mid-day whales were reported inbound in the Strait of Juan de Fuca somewhere near Race rocks, very spread out and taking long dives. Hoping they might be J pod returning, Ken set out in Chimo and headed toward Seabird Point, Discovery Island where they were reportedly heading. However, the whales stalled out near the end of an ebbing tide and were foraging toward William Head on the south Vancouver Island coast. The dives were long, the whales very spread over at least ten square miles, and the situation was at first backlit; but, they were J pod! They had only been away for three days, probably enough time for them to go out to the Juan de Fuca Canyon off Cape Flattery and return. As the tide turned to incoming, so did the whales; and, they gradually gathered into small groups. As they came across the Victoria waterfront about two miles offshore, they gathered into larger groups and continued toward Trial Island. The groups allowed efficient photo-documentation of all of the whales in the group, but the photos were not generally master catalogue quality due to the harsh lighting and splashy whales surfacing at irregular and unpredictable intervals. At least all of J pod was present in the coalescing and dispersing groups; all, that is, except J27 and L87. Chimo dropped back in distant trail of the groups to search for these two adult males, and found them together about a mile and a half behind the leaders. They were travelling side by side and slowly catching up to the others, but they did not actually join with the lead groups during this encounter. By 1630 the entire procession of whales was off the Oak Bay Flats and Chain Islands, spreading out and heading toward Sea Bird, Discovery Island where I had expected to first meet them. At 1650 the leaders, including J22 and J38 passed by the lighthouse at the tip of Discovery Island and headed toward Lime Kiln Lighthouse across Haro Strait on San Juan Island. Chimo ended the encounter at 1651, but Morningstar continued escorting the whales at a respectable distance to keep Chris Teren advised of their position as he readied the drone for possible aerial documentation of social arrangements of the whales for studies by Exeter University Ph.D. student Michael Weiss.