FOLLOWUP: Today’s orca visit – the good and the not-so-good – and how you can train to be a volunteer naturalist

The photos are from Kersti Muul, one of the first people to let us know this morning – texting our 24/7 hotline at 206-293-6302 – that transient orcas were headed this way.

She reports, “Some that have been ID’d so far (but not in total) are: T101, T102 and 36B’s, T37A1, T36,” saying T102 is the “large male” in her photos, which were taken from various spots on West Seattle’s west-facing shore.

“They traveled slow, and stealthy, disappearing smoothly into the milky, smokey horizon. Reappearing with exhale. Our beautiful marine kin. When T102 first surfaced, I was alone, as was he. It was thrilling to share a moment of peace with him.” Then she saw them again headed north this evening:

The evening pass wasn’t quite so peaceful, with one group of boaters disregarding the Be Whale Wise guidelines: “These young men went barreling towards the three Ts and everyone on shore gasped. I reported them to NOAA. This is a good example of behavior we really want to call out and change.”:

Now – here’s a way you can help educate. One of the groups Kersti works with, Whale Scout, has volunteer orientation/training events coming up – one of them not far away. Noon-4 pm September 17th at Seahurst Park‘s Environmental Learning Center. She explains: “Volunteers will be trained to help people figure out where, and how to watch whales from shore, restore salmon habitat and learn how to ID individual whales. It is an excellent opportunity to discover just how well you can watch whales in West Seattle, as well as how you can help our critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, and the dwindling salmon runs they rely upon.” Here’s more information. This training will be just in time for what Kersti says is the anticipated return of the Southern Resident Killer Whales to our area, likely next month.

20 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Today's orca visit - the good and the not-so-good - and how you can train to be a volunteer naturalist"

  • Elle Nell September 9, 2017 (6:41 am)

    Do people not have common sense anymore—! 

    I hope parents are teaching their children respect for themselves, others and nature… it’s imperative! 

    And how ironic, thhe name of these numb-skulls boat is the Whaler..

    • Kersti E muul September 9, 2017 (8:16 am)

      Yes, very appropriately named boat! These guys seemed really young, and they were hooting and hollering the whole time. I believe ignorance plays a role, but more concerning is the lack of inherent feelings of ‘this is not ok’ or ‘wow what spectacular creatures, give them some space’…

      Another issue is that the whale watch boats are often in violation of these laws as well and so it sets a precedent. We need enforcement down here, and enforcement that actually follows through or this will never change. I’ve been trying to work on this but it is highly political :/

  • Aimee September 9, 2017 (7:46 am)

    Nice work, Kiwi! 😉😙

  • Just Wondering September 9, 2017 (8:25 am)

    Can the registration number on the boat be reported to authorities?

    • Kersti E muul September 9, 2017 (8:51 am)

      Yes, that’s how you report to NOAA. I have done this already. The more people do it, the better chance of citations in the Future. If you click on the be whale wise link in story there’s a place you can report

  • Dennis Hinton September 9, 2017 (10:22 am)

    Beautiful orca photos.

    • Kersti E muul September 9, 2017 (1:45 pm)

      Thanks Denny :) I was hoping you were fishing at the point when they went by. So close to shore!

      See ya Thursday for the full report haha

  • Mark September 9, 2017 (2:58 pm)

    Orcas are intelligent animals with higher IQ than many people who do not give them the proper space and respect.

  • anonyme September 9, 2017 (3:17 pm)

    Have jerks just taken over the world, or are they being bred in a special lab somewhere?  I hope there is some action taken against these idiots (like being banned from the water, for starters) but there doesn’t seem to be enforcement of anything these days.  Hmmm….could there be a connection?

    • Kersti E muul September 9, 2017 (4:16 pm)

      They will maybe get a citation, that’s if NOAA decides that they want to pursue it…

      More reports makes it more likely. It is a difficult process. Have to prove they are within the 100 yard space, purposely. Sometimes the whales come to you but not the case here. These guys literally barrelled right into where they were. They are also in violation of the speed. I can prove this with the photo sequence, which is helpful. You also have to have the boat ID. I have a large lens which made this possible, but this isn’t feasible for most. I will update what I hear from NOAA

  • SMITTYTHECLOWN September 9, 2017 (3:45 pm)

    I want that Whaler!

  • George T. September 9, 2017 (5:50 pm)

    I filed a report as well, based on this post. Are recreational boaters educated about the 200-yard rule when they purchase boats/apply for licenses? If not it should be mandatory. 

    • Kersti Muul September 12, 2017 (10:26 am)

      This is an excellent idea. I have been looking through WDFW website, and a lot of things need tweaking. I have started composing a list of things that need changing so they are visible when you are on their page. 

  • Donna Van Renselaar September 10, 2017 (10:28 pm)

    Well done, Kersti!  We are experiencing the same problem in Kitsap waterways when the orcas come through. People are harassing the orcas with all manner of boats & jetskis, and are even crowding them with kayaks.  Keep up the good fight- see you at the Whale Scout meeting!

  • Kersti Muul September 12, 2017 (10:26 am)

    Thanks Donna :)

    As the Transient orcas become more of a ‘resident’ fixture here in the south Salish sea, we are seeing a tremendous uptick in boater violations. I appreciate all you do for wildlife as well. This issue is slow going because it is highly political in nature. Tracy publishing this story has had AMAZING results. It has been shared a zillion times, and I have heard from so many people wanting to get involved. Last year (as you know) I was highly discouraged by NOAA and the lack of concern/citation but my vigor has been renewed! See you Saturday.

    Thank you for loving the Orcas 

  • Kersti Muul September 12, 2017 (10:30 am)

    I have reported the FOSS tug as well. T102 and the second orca were forced under the boat and the third was close on the side

  • Lynn September 15, 2017 (11:41 am)

    This is upsetting to read. How can they go so close to the whale! I tried searching for # on Instagram to see if i can identify who the idiot guys on the boat. I hope they get an expensive ticket for this. 

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