Credit: Dave Ellifrit.
Encounter Number: 54
Enc Start Time: 18:20
Enc End Time: 19:40
Observers: Dave Ellifrit, Michael Weiss
Pods or ecotype: J and L pods
Location: Haro Strait
Begin Lat/Long: 48 28.00/123 07.00
End Lat/Long: 48 34.10/123 12. 04
Whale reports had been filing in for most of an extremely gray and rainy Wednesday. Most of J pod was heading south from Pt. Roberts and the J16s, Ks, and Ls had been coming in from Sooke since the early morning. There were also several groups of transients scattered about the central Salish Sea. The rain just about stopped by 1430 and we made an attempt to encounter the SRs coming in off the Victoria waterfront. We made it out into the middle of Haro Strait but a breeze had now picked up and it looked really, really wet where the whales probably were so we turned around and headed back home.
By about 1730, the sky had cleared up and the water had calmed down so Dave and Michael made another attempt to encounter the Ks and Ls. Lodie had reported whales off Eagle Point and others were reported to be still coming in at Middle Bank. We left Snug Harbor at 1800 and saw our first whales at 1820 near Kanaka Bay. We caught a glimpse of L47 and L115 milling before they disappeared and we moved on farther south. At the south end of False Bay, we found L103 and L123 who were heading south into deteriorating sea conditions. Due to reports of a wind line heading north from the south end of the island and 2-3 foot roll coming in from the west, we decided it would probably be a good idea to be heading home so we headed back north. We found L82 and L116 heading south off Pile Point, got a couple of quick pictures, and kept heading north.
We found the southbound J pod whales at 1915 less than a mile south of Kellett Bluff off the mouth of Mitchell Bay and spread out across Haro Strait. We ended the encounter at 1940 at the south end of Mitchell Bay with J pod still heading south. Unfortunately, the SRs left the area that night and were seen the next morning near Sheringham Point heading west again.
A collection of photos from various amateur sightings of the orca as they moved from Seatoun to Island Bay. Highlighting the unique hunting behaviour of the New Zealand orca coming close to shore to hunt stingrays. The pod consisted of 1 adult male, 1 adult female and a calf for the morning, then they joined up with more orca around Moa point and Island Bay
Sightings with photos officially started at 3:21pm and went until roughly 6-6:30pm (rough estimate based on posts in the Whale and Dolphin Watch Wellington Facebook group), though sightings were also reported between 9:14am-10:30am thanks to InterIslander ferry passengers.
Orcas graced Wellington harbour and the south coast with their presence today! They visited all the bays, a mother and her babies, with onlookers following their path as the sunset in the sky.
It is common hunting behaviour for Orca in New Zealand to swim close to the shore, as described in https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/orca-dressed-to-kill/
“…Orca culture is often unique to a small geographic location, not unlike human tribal culture. New Zealand orca employ several different hunting methods, but most are aimed at catching the same kind of prey—elasmobranchs, i.e. rays and sharks. New Zealand orca were the first to be recognised as specialising in hunting this type of prey, and they remain the only orca that use these particular methods.”
Source: Sarah Lee, Facebook