2019 Encounters

Encounter #103 - December 14, 2019
T253

T253

Photo by Mark Malleson

T253, T253A

T253, T253A

Photo by Mark Malleson

U083

U083

Photo by Mark Malleson

T253, T253A

T253, T253A

Photo by Mark Malleson

T253

T253

Photo by Mark Malleson

T252

T252

Photo by Mark Malleson

T251

T251

Photo by Mark Malleson

T252

T252

Photo by Mark Malleson

T250C

T250C

Photo by Mark Malleson

T037

T037

Photo by Mark Malleson

T034

T034

Photo by Mark Malleson

Spyhop

Spyhop

T034, T034A, T034B

T034, T034A, T034B

Photo by Mark Malleson

Photo by Joe Zelwietro

T251

T251

Photo by Joe Zelwietro

Photo by Joe Zelwietro

CAs

CAs

Photo by Joe Zelwietro

20160331DAG_SJ1-179_J53 spyhop.jpg
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Enc Date: 14/12/19

Enc Seq: 2

Enc#: 103

Observ Begin: 03:10 PM

Observ End: 04:55 PM

Vessel: Mike 1

Staff: Mark Malleson

Other Observers: Joe Zelwietro

Pods: Transients

LocationDescr:  Papa Alpha

Start Latitude:  48 14.2

Start Longitude: 123 26.1

End Latitude: 48 17.8

End Longitude: 123 20.3

EncSummary:

After departing the the Bigg's killer whales approaching Albert Head (see Encounter #102) Mark and Joe turned south in search of an outer-coastal group that had been left by a couple of the whale watch boats. These whales were last seen heading east in the Juan de Fuca Strait a few miles south east of Race Rocks.
They spotted the bull T251 (also known as CA166/U033) in short order. He was travelling stealthily to the NE ~ 5 nm SSE of Race Rocks (48 14.2/123 26.1), and apparently alone, so after confirming his identity they continued on to find the rest of the group. With the help of Gord spotting from Victoria through Big Eyes, Mark and Joe were able to pick up a group of three animals, including a weeks old calf, only a few miles to the NW of T251. This group turned out to be more outer-coastals and the new mother was confirmed to be T253.
There was a second adult female travelling with the pair, though she has yet to be identified. We will follow up shortly with an update on this! (have sent photos to Jared Towers/DFO). As the name suggests, outer-coastal are rarely encountered in the inner waters of the Salish Sea and identification can be difficult.
Mark and Joe watched as the trio steadily tracked east at 48 16.0/123 26.7 pausing only briefly to make short work of a harbour porpoise at 1527 (48 16.1/123 25.9). The whales disappeared on a long dive after approximately five minutes of prey sharing, giving the Mike 1 crew time for a quick scan. Joe spotted a large bull about a mile east of them, presumably T251, and several several others appeared to have joined him. Mark and Joe made their way carefully to that area and were able to spot two adult females and a juvenile, though they did not see the elusive bull again. These animals were confirmed as T252, the presumed mother of both T251 and T253, and U083 along with another as yet unidentified outer-coastal. These whales were spread over .75 nm travelling slowly to the ENE. U083 and the unidentified juvenile came together briefly to take a run at a Steller sealion but moved on after a single swipe and slowly pointed NW towards Constance Bank. T252 joined the pair and all continued along a northwesterly path. At this point Mark spotted more killer whales apparently porpoising to the SE from Constance Bank! As the outer-coastal group had disappeared at that moment and the action seemed to be to the north of them, Mark and Joe opted to head for the new group of whales.
They reached the group as light was fading and knew they would have to work quickly to confirm identities. The first whale to surface was T034 and she was followed shortly by the rest of her family. All members of the T034 and T037B matriline were confirmed along with T037. T037 was recently observed travelling with members of the T036 matriline for a week or so, though she is typically with her daughter T037B and presumed mother T034 but seems to have made her way back to them. The seas were calm and the whales spent a minute or two logging on the surface, very audibly vocalizing. The three outer-coastals approached from the south and were welcomed into a very social crowd. Mike 1 stayed until the light faded and the audible blows suggested the whales were continuing in a northeasterly direction, perhaps aiming for Discovery Island. The encounter concluded at 1655 (48 17.8/123 20.3) and Mike 1 returned to Victoria harbour in the dark and secured to the dock at 1715.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388