West Seattle whale-watching: Orcas heading southbound

(Photo by Gary Jones)
ORIGINAL 10:31 AM REPORT: Just got a call from orca expert Jeff Hogan – J-Pod is headed along the West Seattle shore – from south of Alki toward Lincoln Park. Closer in than usual, he says. Off to go have a look! 11:45 AM: No luck for your editor here but Gary Jones saw them – adding his photo in a moment. He counted at least three more in addition to the one shown in the photo. We’ve also got a Twitter report from @senorfrijole that they’re now in the Three Tree Point vicinity south of West Seattle (in addition to an 11:40 comment below that they were south of the Vashon ferry dock.) Keep an eye out later – maybe they’ll head back north. (Our past orca coverage, including stories with video and photos, is archived here, newest to oldest.) 12:23 PM: Good info in the comments, including this from “Cloudbreak“:

There are WAY more than 4 whales in this group. I would say more like 10-20. They were in several large groups circling over by Vashon when I was on the 11:30 ferry headed eastbound from Vashon.

Across the Sound from West Seattle, they were spotted in Kitsap waters over the past few days – here’s coverage of that. ADDED 1:17 PM: WSB contributing journalist Mary Sheely photographed a group of whale-watchers at Lincoln Park a bit earlier:

The woman in blue is a particularly well-known whale-watcher: Donna Sandstrom, who’s been working on The Whale Trail (explained in this WSB story from June). Mary, by the way, says they DID see the orcas — too far for a photo, but not too far for binoculars. ADDED 3:49 PM: KIRO TV has put up its helicopter video of the orcas as they swam near Vashon – see it here. 5:16 PM: As the awesome folks at Orca Network note in comments, please be sure that they get official detailed reports. Let us know fast so we can get the word out to other West Seattleites that the whales are in view again; they work with official whale-trackers for the longterm record. (And if you see orcas OUTSIDE West Seattle waters, let them know too – they track them from all over – be sure to sign up for their newsletter, which is a nightly bulletin usually full of photos and info – orcanetwork.org.)

17 Replies to "West Seattle whale-watching: Orcas heading southbound"

  • Cloudbreak December 9, 2009 (11:40 am)

    The whales are circling just south of Vashon ferry dock now

    • WSB December 9, 2009 (11:44 am)

      Darn, and I just came home, having missed them. Maybe too far offshore, and I don’t have good binocs. Thanks!

  • Cloudbreak December 9, 2009 (12:10 pm)

    There are WAY more than 4 whales in this group. I would say more like 10-20. They were in several large groups circling over by Vashon when I was on the 11:30 ferry headed eastbound from Vashon. Back home in Fauntleroy area now and can’t spot them yet looking out across the water.

  • marysh December 9, 2009 (12:13 pm)

    It was both J and K pods according to Donna from Whale Trail, just got home. Binoculars definitely a necessity but they were foraging for some time just south of the ferry route off the coast of Vashon. Very cool!

  • xmas angels December 9, 2009 (12:27 pm)

    Go J-Pod!!

  • marie_stella December 9, 2009 (12:36 pm)

    Way to incorporate the whole W. Seattle Twitter community on this! A very fun collaboration!

    • WSB December 9, 2009 (12:53 pm)

      Yeah, we probably need a hashtag (maybe #wsorcas), although I am still not a major fan of hashtags .. discovered while pulling a search for other mentions that “orca” is a hashtag for something political … TR

  • JoB December 9, 2009 (12:55 pm)

    i just missed them:(

  • Michael J Swassing December 9, 2009 (1:00 pm)

    There are way more than twenty individuals. I was on the Bremerton ferry eastbound at about 9:45 and the pod was spread out north to about Eagle Harbor and south past Blakley Island and they were just everywhere out there. The ferry could not go around them so it slowed way down and went through the pod. They were surfacing twenty or thirty feet away and everywhere around us in every direction as we went between Bainbridge and West Seattle.

    • WSB December 9, 2009 (1:10 pm)

      Thanks, Michael.

      For anybody – ANY time you see orcas headed this way (even if you’re somewhere north) – please call our 24-hour phone number (maybe consider putting it in your cell contacts) – we consider whales breaking news, like fires, car crashes, all the other stuff we cover too! 206-293-6302.

      And that does it, I’m going to have to take a ferry ride for research this afternoon, maybe I’ll get lucky and catch them headed back this way …

  • Steve December 9, 2009 (2:56 pm)

    J-Pod, whatever happened to the iPod???

  • Howard Garrett December 9, 2009 (5:07 pm)

    It’s great to see these sightings on WSB. To contribute to orca recovery research efforts and make sure your reports of orca sightings are documented with NMFS and the Center for Whale Research please call Orca Network toll-free at 1-866-ORCANET.
    Researchers have been collecting fecal and scale samples to determine what the whales are eating, so we’ll all know how to best protect their food source. Reports to ORCANET help guide researchers to where the orcas were, to gather samples.
    Our last reports from Amy Carey placed them at Gold Beach, Maury Island, still heading south at 3:30, and from Scott Veirs at the mouth of Quartermaster Harbor at 4 PM, still spread out.

  • Howard Garrett December 9, 2009 (5:36 pm)

    Addendum to above comment: Orca reports can also be emailed to ORCANET, to info@orcanetwork.org

  • Dano December 9, 2009 (11:39 pm)

    MANY THANKS to Jeff Hogan!…. He always keeps us informed of sightings, and the whales could not have a better advocate! He works with school kids throughout our area, and is a remarkable teacher. He has visited my classroom often. I hope all will visit his GREAT website, killerwhaletales.org … You will love it!

  • charlabob December 10, 2009 (8:06 am)

    Thank you WSB and all the other orca watchers. I’ve never been a big nature lover — this, along with the cold weather did it. Next I’ll become a birder. Well, maybe not that. :-) Anyway,great stories and comments.

  • mmd December 10, 2009 (8:10 am)

    Did they ever come back north? Does anyone know? I will be on the lookout this morning. Thanks WSB!

  • Howard Garrett December 10, 2009 (8:43 am)

    Thursday 8 AM – Orcas are reported heading north in Admiralty Inlet between Pt. No Point and Bush Point.
    -Orca Network

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