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August 13: An "epic" encounter with J, K, and L pods

The Center for Whale Research message: On August 13, we received a text from Mark Malleson (CWR Field Biologist) saying he, Joe, and Tasli were having an "epic" encounter with J, K, and L pods. Encounter #49 started along the south shore of Vancouver Island, and Mark and his crew spent the next five plus hours with most J, K, and L pod members. The water was calm, and the day was warm: an ideal combination to photo-document orcas from a research vessel.

Members of L Pod in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, August 13, 2022 The Center for Whale Research photos taken under Federal Permits NMFS PERMIT: 21238/ DFO SARA 388

Little did the Center for Whale Research know that the endangered population of whales was heading toward a potentially life-threatening situation: a fuel spill. A commercial fishing boat had sunk off the west side of San Juan Island near CWR's research offices. The 49-foot fishing vessel sunk carrying approximately 2,600 gallons of diesel oil. The Southern Residents had left the spill area, averting this disastrous situation.

The following morning, Mark Malleson was on board the MV Coho ferry en route from Victoria to Port Angeles and saw at least 30 Southern Resident orcas swimming westward in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We are confident all of the 60-plus whales seen during Encounter #49 avoided the fuel spill.

See the "epic" photographs and 8-minute video from Encounter #49

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