UPDATE: Gray whale, possibly in trouble, seen off West Seattle


11:29 AM: Thanks to everyone who has texted and e-mailed about this, including Delfino Muñoz, who sent the photo above: A gray whale is in the middle of Puget Sound between West Seattle and Vashon Island and may be in trouble. Those who have watched it from afar and up close say it hasn’t moved much for some time. We looked through binoculars from the south end of Emma Schmitz Overlook and also noted that it was fairly stationary. We know it’s been reported to the local marine-mammal stranding network, Seal Sitters (206-905-SEAL), and to the state. Gray-whale sightings in Puget Sound aren’t rare, but this time of year, some that don’t make it back out to the open ocean for the annual Pacific Coast migration may be lingering because they are ill or undernourished. Earlier this month, one such gray whale was first seen in the Ballard Locks and then found dead between north Vashon and Fauntleroy. We’ll update if we find out anything more about the whale that’s out there right now.

2:43 PM UPDATE: Just got an update from Robin @ Seal Sitters, that those keeping an eye on the whale might see a boat closer to it than boats are supposed to be – researchers from Fish and Wildlife and Cascadia Research Collective are headed out to try to assess the whale’s condition and make sure it’s not entangled. WSB’s Christopher Boffoli got this view from Beach Drive, though the whale is much closer to the other side:


Christopher reported the whale is definitely blowing regularly, though not moving much. Robin also says they’ve advised the Coast Guard about the whale, since it’s in the shipping lanes and they want cargo ships to know to steer clear – Christopher photographed one passing:


We’ll continue to update when more information’s available.

9 Replies to "UPDATE: Gray whale, possibly in trouble, seen off West Seattle"

  • JanS April 30, 2016 (2:54 pm)


  • AMD April 30, 2016 (5:32 pm)

    I hope it’s not too late to help.  : (

  • Robin/Seal Sitters April 30, 2016 (7:49 pm)

     Members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network (WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife and Cascadia Research) were able to get video for a health assessment of the whale late this afternoon. A statement will be issued by NOAA, which Seal Sitters will provide to WSB upon release.

    ALL watercraft – including individuals on paddle boards and kayaks – need to stay a minimum of 100 yards from the whale. It is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to harass a whale. Getting too close causes undue stress on the animal which has compromised health.

    The Coast Guard was informed today that the whale was in the shipping lane and broadcast an alert to mariners to avoid the area. Ship strikes pose an extreme danger for whales in shipping lanes (read more about ship strikes on Seal Sitters’ website)

    Thanks to everyone – and WSB, as always – for keeping a safe distance and reporting the whale’s whereabouts.

  • Amy Carter May 1, 2016 (7:57 am)

    😐 someone do something please help the whale 

  • nemobeansmom May 1, 2016 (5:56 pm)

    WSB—— do you know if there have been any more updates on the whale?

    • WSB May 1, 2016 (6:30 pm)

      Nemo, I haven’t received the promised update yet. Have also checked Cascadia, NOAA, Orca Network online, nothing new. No new sightings reported to us today (although it’s hard to say if people would have alerted us, if they saw we already had a story on it). Will update separately whenever we hear something. – TR

  • Meghan Seale May 4, 2016 (6:47 pm)

    Update please!

  • OM May 5, 2016 (8:55 pm)

    Just saw whale today around narrow marina

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