2018 Encounters

Encounter #37 - June 11, 2018
Tail Lob

Tail Lob

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Morningstar

Morningstar

Photo by Ken Balcomb

J27

J27

Photo by Kara Burgess

Breach

Breach

Photo by Michael Weiss

Entering Active Pass

Entering Active Pass

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

L103

L103

Photo by Ken Balcomb

L105

L105

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Waterfall

Waterfall

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Lightouse

Lightouse

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

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Date: 11-June-18

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 37

Enc Start Time: 12:05

Enc End Time: 16:57

Vessel: Initial observation from shore at CWR; “Chimo” for 1.9 hours; “Morningstar” for 2.9

Observers: Ken Balcomb, Dave Ellifrit, Melisa Pinnow, Michael Weiss, Kara Burgess, Tom and Jane Cogan

Pods or ecotype: J pod, L pod

Location: Haro Strait/Swanson Channel

Begin Lat/Long: In front of Center for Whale Research

End Lat/Long: Active Pass

 

Encounter Summary:

It has been too long since we last encountered SRKWs in the Salish Sea, and we have had a couple of reports of them in mid-May of them in the coastal waters off Vancouver Island, so the intrepid crew of “Morningstar” (Jane Cogan, Michael Weiss, Melisa Pinnow, Dave Ellifrit and Captain Tom Cogan) departed from Snug Harbor at 0500 bound for the west entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca on a search for them. The forecast was for calm seas in the Strait as far as the west coast of Vancouver Island and beyond for most of the day, and the skies were clear. By the time they were abeam of Port Renfrew at the west entrance of the Strait, J pod calls were heard on the Lime Kiln hydrophone and a few spread out whales were sighted in Haro Strait by shore observers on San Juan Island. Jeanne Hyde observed some J whales from the San Juan County Park and some L whales from Land Bank, as they did the west-side shuffle for a couple of hours before more or less heading north before noon when the tide changed from ebb to flood. Since “Morningstar” was already nearing the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, they continued the search for any additional SRKWs that might be trailing as far back as Carmanah lighthouse before they turned back. A few J whales, led by J19, passed CWR heading northwest in Haro Strait at 1055, and then they too turned back toward Bellevue Point. Finally, around 1220 it seemed as though the spread out assemblage of whales committed to heading up Haro Strait. The L12s were the last group of whales to pass CWR heading up Haro Strait at 1325, but they turned around and headed down Haro Strait by 1530.
Meanwhile, as the first group of whales passed CWR, Ken departed from Snug Harbor and encountered some of the leaders off Open Bay. It was obvious from the spread out distribution of whales and the choppy seas that this was going to be a “proof of presence” encounter, not an ideal photo day. “Morningstar” returned by 1400 to encounter the whales near Turn Point and took proof of presence photos from several hundred yards distance from there to Active Pass, Canada. All in all, we documented all of J pod present, plus L87; and, we documented 22 of the other L pod whales with the notable exception that L92 was missing. His aunt, L90, was present, and therefore we had deemed that L92 had passed because he and his aunt have been inseparable for years since his mother died in 2002. It is a testament to the strong family ties that these last two living members of a 7 whale matriline have travelled together for so long. Now, L90 is the last living member of the group we used to call the L26s. L26 died in 2013 at an estimated age of 57. “Morningstar” ended their day at 1708 near the east entrance to Active Pass.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238 / DFO SARA 388