2018 Encounters

Encounter #41 - June 28, 2018
T65A2 tail lob

T65A2 tail lob

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T36A1 breach

T36A1 breach

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T65A, T65A6, and T65A4

T65A, T65A6, and T65A4

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T175

T175

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T175 tail lob

T175 tail lob

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T36A1 breach

T36A1 breach

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T36A and T65As

T36A and T65As

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

T175

T175

Photo by Dave Ellifrit

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Date: 28-Jun-2018

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 41

Enc Start Time: 13:50

Enc End Time: 15:58

Vessel: Orcinus

Observers: Dave Ellifrit and Michael Weiss

Pods or ecotype: Transients

Location: Georgia Strait

Begin Lat/Long: 48 56.28/123 09.21

End Lat/Long: 48 57.23/123 13.11

 

Encounter Summary:

We spent the morning working in the CWR office while listening to radio reports of whales in the area. There was a large group of transients, including T175-a rare visitor to the Salish Sea, found north of East Point heading north. Around noon, we got the OK to go out on the Ts up north so Dave and Michael grabbed their gear and headed for the boat. After a quick stop at Roche Harbor to top off with fuel, we got underway and started heading north a little after 1300.
We got on scene at about 1350 a few miles southwest of the Coal Docks that are just south of the Tsawwassen ferry docks. The whales were in a single, slightly strung out by matrilines group and they were heading west when we got there. Along with the male T175, the groups present were the T36As, T65As, T99s, plus a few others we figured were part of the T173 matriline. After our first left side pass with the large group, there was a breakaway group of four, including the sprouter T65A2, that headed off southwest toward the Belle Chains while the main group continued west toward Active Pass. For the next fifteen minutes or so, we stayed with the main group and got right side shots. The T36As, the T65As minus T65A2, and the T99s were in the main group with T175 following closely at the rear. T175 was staying down longer than all the other whales and, on more than one occasion, only took two breaths before going down on another long dive.
We then left the main group to head over to the group of four off to the southwest. Along with T65A2, this turned out to be T176, plus a large juvenile/subadult that is probably T176A, and a small juvenile of T176’s. This recent visit ( 6/27-6/29 ) by the T176s is the first time, to our knowledge, that this matriline has been documented in the inside waters around southern Vancouver Island. The T176s are, apparently, not seen often anywhere and not much is known about them. T175 had made only one previous appearance in the area back in 2012. After getting good lefts on the T176s, we headed back to the main group who had angled southwest and were now closer to the other four.
The large group milled around, with some groups drifting off a short ways, for almost 45 minutes. Around 1520, T65A2 and the T176s rejoined the larger group and all the whales milled around for another twenty minutes before heading back northeast. The whales still seemed to be in a social mood as they headed mostly northeast back toward Tsawwassen and there were several taillobs and other splashings going on. T36A1 breached four times and we were able to confirm that she is a female. We ended the encounter a couple minutes before 1600 with the whales still being social as they moved slowly northeast a couple miles west of where the encounter began.

 

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238 / DFO SARA 388