ORCAS: Two views from the Southern Resident Killer Whales’ Sunday visit

On Sunday, we reported on another visit by Southern Resident Killer Whales. No visuals, though, until tonight:

That video is by Hannah Schuh, a seventh-grader at Madison Middle School. Her mom Liz Schuh sent us the clip, recorded at Point Robinson on Maury Island (a popular whale-watching spot since Puget Sound’s main channel narrows there and you have a better chance of a close pass). Viewing advice from Liz: “After the breaching whale, another group surfaces, including one of the babies.”

The babies are part of J-Pod, which may have another calf soon – we also received photos tonight from Brittany Philbin of PNW Orca Pod Squad Photography – a pregnant orca, also photographed from Point Robinson:

The photographer explains, “During their close pass, J46 Star breached just offshore and luckily I was in the right place at the right time and captured a photo at just the right angle to see her heavily pregnant abdomen. She has been confirmed by researchers to be pregnant. I just thought residents of West Seattle would love to see these photos of J46 Star. They are so beloved throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

J46 was born in November 2009.

22 Replies to "ORCAS: Two views from the Southern Resident Killer Whales' Sunday visit"

  • jim October 19, 2020 (11:07 pm)

    I think J46 is a showoff, but a rather good one.

  • Chuck October 19, 2020 (11:15 pm)

    Wow.  Thank you Brittany for these photos.  J46 has a “glow” about her.  Praying for a healthy strong baby for our magnificent orca neighbors. 

  • Donna October 20, 2020 (1:03 am)

    Awesome photos! Thank you for sharing. The new calves and pregnancies are a ray of hope for this critically endangered population.

    This week WDFW is going to release its draft rules for commercial whale-watching, including the number of boats that can be around the southern residents, and hours and seasons they can operate. We hope everyone will weigh in for the whales, and ask WDFW to give the orcas the space they need to forage and rear their young.

    This is a rare chance to make a big difference for J, K and L pods – especially the calves and moms – in these next few critical years. We’ll keep everyone posted here and at thewhaletrail.org. Your voice will matter!

  • anonyme October 20, 2020 (7:27 am)

    These joyful photos (and video) actually made me weep.  We must do everything we can, no matter who it inconveniences, to make sure these magnificent, intelligent beings survive and thrive.

    • Herongrrrl October 20, 2020 (9:10 am)

      I totally agree, anonyme. Salmon recovery is a lot harder and more expensive than boat regulations, but at the end of the day those of us who want these animals to thrive need to be putting a lot more pressure on the powers that be to clean up contaminated sediment in our waters, prevent and mitigate stormwater pollution, remove poorly designed culverts and other blockages to salmon passage, and prevent/reduce shoreline armoring. Long, slow, frustrating processes, but ultimately addressing the problem on an ecosystem level is what is necessary to be sure there is enough food for whales like J46 Star to have lots of healthy babies!

      • Donna, The Whale Trail October 20, 2020 (11:34 am)

        This isn’t an either/or solution, Herongrrl, it’s both/and. The orcas need to echolocate to find their food. Boat noise from commercial and recreational boat makes it harder for them to echolocate and communicate with each other. Yes, we need to recover and restore salmon through out their range. And we can give them the best chance to find salmon now by quieting the seas around them.

        Over the past decade while the orcas declined, the number of commercial whale-watching boats more than doubled and their revenues tripled. A recent study showed that the industry does not depend on watching SRKW for economic viability. And every close approach disturbs this critically endangered population.

        The Canadian government has suspended all whale-watching on southern residents. It’s high time we did the same. Watch from shore, and love the orcas by giving them the space they need.

        • Kris Nixon October 20, 2020 (12:00 pm)

          I agree

        • Herongrrrl October 20, 2020 (3:30 pm)

          Maybe not an either or question, Donna, but if there are no salmon for the SRKW to find it won’t matter how quiet the water is.  I’ve been following this population for over 30 years, and also the work done by the Center for Whale Research and Orca Behavior Institute nearly as long as both have existed. I cannot understand why so much emphasis is being placed on boat noise when the food supply is so clearly the number one problem identified by these esteemed researchers.  Not the only problem, but the one that needs to change fastest if we are going to save this population. I recommend Monika Wieland Shield’s excellent book, “Endangered Orcas” for more info.Of course there also needs to be exponentially more funding for enforcement of boating regs–if I had a dime for every time I have seen a clueless recreational vessel nearly hit a whale (particularly the other species here with lower profiles when they surface, like grays and humpbacks), I could almost pay to remove the Snake River Dams myself! Fortunately we have excellent organizations here like CWR, OBI, Orca Network, and Whale Scout who are all working hard to address the issues that face these precious animals.

  • Beanie October 20, 2020 (7:32 am)

    Wow, incredible photos, thank you for sharing!

  • Blinkyjoe October 20, 2020 (8:37 am)

    Amazing photos!! Thanks for sharing.

  • AJP October 20, 2020 (10:37 am)

    When I was in late-stage pregnancy I said I felt like a whale. What do you suppose J46 says she feels like? 

    • Mr. Tree October 20, 2020 (4:04 pm)

      I wonder if she feels like pickles, ice cream, and a touch of sardines on the side…… 😁🤪🐬🐋🐳

  • JannG October 20, 2020 (11:56 am)

    I was raised in Puget Sound in 1950’s… to see the whales & little one was always delightful!

    • Orwell October 21, 2020 (7:36 pm)

      Janng, do you remember there were so many Orcas in the 1950’s and early 1960’s that “small craft warnings” would be issued?  This was before Namu was captured and jailed between piers at the Seattle waterfront and before Ted Griffin started his horrendous sprees capturing  young orcas and selling them to commercial aquariums during the 1960’s. The parent orcas would sound their horror all on the news. Now there are so very few left.  

  • Tina October 20, 2020 (12:55 pm)

    I love orcas they are so smart and loveable its funny how some are interested in us just we are to them..

  • Blbl October 20, 2020 (1:02 pm)

    Thanks for sharing! 😍🥰👏👏👏

  • Michelle October 20, 2020 (1:23 pm)

    We were at Lime Kiln State Park over the weekend (Orcas feed off that shore) and I was shocked at how many huge fishing boats right offshore there were. I couldn’t hear myself think it was so loud. I can only imagine the effort it takes whales to communicate. Not to mention how many nets were in use by fisherman. I hear there are motions to create a sea sanctuary up there in places and I’m totally for it. 

  • WSMom October 20, 2020 (3:05 pm)

    Love these! Thank you!!

  • Sunflower October 20, 2020 (4:00 pm)

    So cool, thanks for the video and photos!What a beautiful, strong mamma.We have to do more to help protect orcas. It’s our fault they are struggling, and the world would not be the same without them.

  • Sunflower October 20, 2020 (4:03 pm)

    So cool, thanks for the video and photos!

    What a beautiful, strong mamma.

    We have to do more to help protect orcas. The world would not be the same without them.

  • Ana-Maria October 21, 2020 (8:40 am)

    Thank you for sharing the photos and recordings of these precious marine animal. They are just precious and bring so much joy to my heart! We need to protect and cherish them because they are true and unique gift to our region. Thank you once again!

  • c peterson October 21, 2020 (10:23 am)

    Thank you SO much for sharing this!! This made my day. Amazing video and images. I loved hearing all the cheers in the video, I was doing the same thing watching it!

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