Encounter #1

Location: Soquel Canyon area
# of killer whales: 5
ID: CA202 “Smiley”, CA202A, CA202B, CA202C, CA50B

We arrived at the scene around 1050, and encountered the matriarch CA202 “Smiley” traveling with her offspring and the adult male CA50B; we stayed with them for about one hour and 40 minutes.  They were elusive, surfacing in different locations.  There were several other boats in the area, which helped keep track of them. Juvenile male CA202A often surfaced next to CA50B. Smiley’s youngest kids, CA202B and CA202C, stayed very close to their Mom  – sometimes bumping their bodies against her.

Around 1240, they started to porpoise. CA202 Smiley leaped out of the water and landed on a California sea lion – starting their attack on their prey. The main attackers were CA202, CA202A, and CA50B, coming at the sea lion from different directions. The whole group briefly swam away from the sea lion, then turned around, came back, and circled their prey. This time, the youngest whales followed their mother around while she attacked the sea lion.

By 1246, they started to swim away. CA202A popped up right next to the boat. The other whales continued swimming away – some tail slapping, often changing directions. The water was very calm and clear, so that we were able to watch them rolling and swimming upside down underwater. At 1256, we spotted a blood pool on the water’s surface. More gulls approached the scene, as well as one black-footed albatross; they started to pick up bloody pieces of what appeared to be the parts of the prey. We could not be certain if this was the sea lion that they had killed earlier, or if they had just killed another sea lion. By this time, we were close to Davenport; we left the scene around 1330.

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