WHALES: Orcas off West Seattle

Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip – transient orcas are back in central Puget Sound, southbound, passing the mouth of Elliott Bay at last report. She says they’re mid-channel. Let us know if you see them! (Note: Most-recent updates are in comments below.)

8 Replies to "WHALES: Orcas off West Seattle"

  • Kersti Elisabeth Muul July 26, 2021 (12:59 pm)

    SB passing Bainbridge ferry terminal. Visible from Alki Avenue.Whale watch boat is with them

  • Kersti Elisabeth Muul July 26, 2021 (1:17 pm)

    Passed Blakely rock !Now 1:15

  • For orca mammas July 26, 2021 (7:05 pm)

    Welcome transients!

    Concerned about resident J’s. They’ve been mia from their core summer habitat for more than 100 days, which is unprecedented.

  • 1WS Resident July 26, 2021 (8:21 pm)

    I love whales.  I have
    experienced the joy of seeing them many times, from Alaska to Mexico and Hawaii.  So I am definitely not a whale hater.  But I do have a question that hopefully
    others can answer and get everyone (me included) on the same page.  There has been a lot of discussion lately in
    various WS Blogs about ships (cruise and supercargo) causing whales distress. The
    waters off Alki probably see more ship activity than most any other spot on
    Puget Sound.  Every freighter from Tacoma
    and Seattle, plus Seattle cruise ships and ferry boats cross a tight 3 mile
    zone in front of Alki.  We have been
    seeing whales in the Alki/Vashon area nearly every week for monthsAgain
    – I am not trying to get people worked up. 
    Just trying to see others perspectives and learn some facts that can
    shape my thinking. My question is: If boat noise bothers them that much why don’t
    the whales stay in the relative quiet of the San Juans and eat the salmon that
    by necessity swim right by on their journey back from the ocean? Why do they
    keep swimming towards this very noisy area if it actually bothers them?  And if it is only transients coming south,
    why can they cope but our Residents can’t? 
    Just wondering…

    • WSB July 26, 2021 (10:48 pm)

      (A) The San Juans are not relatively quiet. Watch MarineTraffic.com any time and also note the accounts of the proliferation of whale-watching boats
      (B) Transients’ food is plentiful. Resident orcas’ food is not.

  • For orca mammas July 27, 2021 (3:17 pm)

    @1WS Resident

    Love hearing that others love whales too, and appreciate your questions! I can add a couple things. 

    With resident orcas primary food source (chinook salmon) scarce and more spread out now, they have to cover more area to find food.  They come to our waters in search of salmon. Even while various ships and boats, make their lives of feeding, socializing, and mating difficult. 

    This isn’t a matter of perspective, there has been research which has shown ships and boats activities negatively impact orcas and their activities – causing shifts in behavior, and increases in stress hormones.

    Southern Resident Orcas biggest threats currently are lack of salmon (esp. Chinook), pollution, and disturbance from ships.

    To help them, we need to prioritize and move quickly to restore salmon (remove Snake River Dam), avoid oil spills and other water pollution sources (all of the sewage spills can’t be helping), and reduce ship disturbance.

    The fact that resident j’s have not been around their core habitat this summer, is very concerning. Hoping they are finding food further away and will survive. But, these are their waters, and we need to restore their home-sea so they can return and thrive where they belong.  Right now these orcas are nutritionally deprived, also being described basically as ‘starving.’

    When the resident orcas swim in our waters, and especially close to shore, I sometimes wonder if they are reaching out to us, making contact, and to let us know they are there, and need our help.  

    I hope folks who are interested in learning more will take some time and google search your questions. There is a lot of good info and great articles out there, more detailed and better articulated than I have shared.

    • For orca mammas July 27, 2021 (5:23 pm)

      … when I say ‘our waters’ I really mean ‘theirs.’ It’s their actual home. We are fortunate to share this area and the sea with them, and their survival currently hinges on our choices and stewardship.

  • For orca mammas July 27, 2021 (10:13 pm)

    Also want to recommend the film ‘Dammed to Extinction,’ available to stream online. Great film about endangered southern resident orcas and salmon and the Snake River Dams.

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