2019 Encounters

Encounter #65 - September 10 , 2019
Springtime in the fog

Springtime in the fog

Photo by Mark Malleson

Photo by Mark Malleson

passing in the fog

passing in the fog

Photo by Mark Malleson

Breach

Breach

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Foraging west Vancouver Island

Foraging west Vancouver Island

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Heading out to practice

Heading out to practice

Photo by Ken Balcomb

Fishing buddies

Fishing buddies

Photo by Ken Balcomb

K21

K21

Photo by Ken Balcomb

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Date: 10-September-2019

Sequence: 1

Encounter Number: 65

Enc Start Time: 10:45

Enc End Time: 15:49

Vessel: Mike 1, Springtime

Observers: Mark Malleson, Ken Balcomb, Florian Graner, Antonia Aust, Greg Bella

Pods or ecotype: J's K's

Location: Sombrio Point

Begin Lat/Long: 48 24.6/124 15.1

End Lat/Long: 48 31.1/124 32.3

Encounter Summary:

Mark departed Pacific Gateway Marina in Port Renfrew on Mike 1 at 0800 to check out conditions outside the Port of San Juan. As he got to the mouth he saw a splash from a breaching whale at the edge of the fog and soon discovered that it was a very animated humpback whale. He could also see and few many other humpbacks spread out throughout the area. At 0935 he left it with Ken and crew on Springtime after spending an hour with it as repeatedly breached, tail lobbed, waved and slapped its pectoral fins.
Mark then headed east towards Sombrio as the fog had diminished dramatically to the east and at 1025 as he approached Sombrio Point he entered a fog bank. At the same time he received a VHF call from a whale watch colleague Peter Zelen that he had come across westbound killer whales 7 miles to the east ~1 nm south of Magdelana Point. Peter confirmed that they were indeed members of J pod so Mark slowed down and kept an extra sharp lookout as the visibility was now reduced to less than a quarter mile. At 1036 he came across K22 3 miles west south west of Peter’s whales (48 24.6/124 15.1). He could see more inshore as the fog lifted and worked through the group eventually coming across a large trailing group inshore which included members of the L4’s and the J11’s. Springtime arrived within an hour and picked up the lead K pod animals and were able to collect several ID’s that Mark had missed. By now the fog had lifted completely so they were able to confidently confirm which individuals were present.
At 1330 Mark left Springtime and headed west to see if the rest of L pod was around. He worked his way out the middle of the Juan de Fuca Strait south of Carmanah Point when he decided to investigate probable humpback whale blows near Cape Flattery. After confirming that only humpback whales were in that area (48 25.7/124 42.7) he worked his way towards Swiftsure Bank and came across a group of ~ 10 humpacks with a group of steller sealions 7 miles east of the bank. He continued west towards Swiftsure Bank and watched another animated humpback repeatedly breach at the edge of the fog bank to the west. The fog started to roll in thick from the west so Mark decided to head back to the east to stay in the clear and re sight the lead K’s. Springtime had left them 3 to 4 miles west of the trailing J’s and L’s they were now with at the mouth of Port of San Juan. At 1656 Mark came across K34 1.5 miles south of Walbran Creek still westbound and could see that the rest of K’s were still very spread out both inshore and offshore to the edge of the incoming fog bank. Mike 1 and Springtime ended the encounter with the trailing J’s and L’s at 1749 (48 31.1/124 32.3) as the fog arrived and headed back to Port Renfrew to anchor up for the night.

Photos taken under Federal Permits

NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388