I was on watch at 0700 this morning and lucky for me I spotted our second group of Transient ‘mammal eating’ killer whales (Orcinus orca)! The FRC was promptly launched for encounter #12. The group of six transients included T139, T140, T140B, T141, T141A and a new calf (Transient ID catalogue) and their behaviour indicated that they were hunting around Gosling Rocks. Those of us who remained on the ship used the ship’s Big Eyes to track and observe the group; they were swimming and taillobbing in the kelp bed surrounding the rocks. It was a difficult group for the FRC crew to track through all the rocky islets and the whale’s unpredictable dive patterns and our tracking from the ship was important to inform the FRC crew where the whales were. At one point we nearly lost the group showing how difficult it can be to track sixTransient killer whales!
The encounter ended at 1130 and the ship headed south through Hakai Pass to make its way towards Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island where we are due back tomorrow morning. Amazingly, at 1800 another group of killer whales was spotted to the west of Egg Island and both FRCs were launched for encounter #13 with the groups of ~68 Northern ‘Resident’ fish eating killer whales! The encounter ended at 2100 and the two crews came back to inform us that they had photo-ID’d the B, G (except G17s), A34 and I33 groups of the Northern Resident community. That means that we had a total of 168 different Northern Resident killer whales and 7 different Transient killer whales over the past week…a record for these Tully cruises!