West Seattle, Washington
10:12 AM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the report – again today, a humpback whale is in view off West Seattle. Right now it’s traveling westbound along Alki, close to the Lighthouse, “super close” to shore.
12:33 PM: Kersti says in comments that two humpbacks are in the area. Thanks to her and everyone who’s been commenting with sighting updates below!
2:03 PM: Thanks to Renee Umeno for this short but sweet clip of a humpback as it dove off Constellation Park:
7:55 PM: Thanks to Steyn Benade of Always Local Photos for the next two images:
4:26 PM: If you don’t mind whale-watching in the rain, Kersti Muul just sent word that orcas are headed southbound in Puget Sound, crossing the mouth of Elliott Bay, south of West Point.
5:29 PM: Kersti reports via the comment section that they’re in the Bainbridge ferry lanes, closer to the Bainbridge side.
8:03 PM: Up for sunset whale-watching? Kersti Muul sends word that transient orcas are passing West Seattle, northbound in the ferry lanes off Fauntleroy right now.
8:10 PM: Update from Kersti – they’re now passing Lowman Beach.
1:28 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip: She says two humpback whales have been milling off Cormorant Cove (3700 block of Beach Drive). Humpbacks have grown more common in Puget Sound. Let us know if you see them!
2:10 PM: Texted photo added. Kersti says in a comment below that it might just be one humpback.
8:18 AM: Reported by Kersti Muul: Orcas, northbound, a few hundred yards off Cormorant Cove (3700 block Beach Drive).
8:58 AM: Transient orcas making a close pass, according to updates in comments below.
10:05 AM: Added photos sent by David Hutchinson – thank you!
1:35 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip. Just as the rain starts to lift, orcas are in the area, northbound past west-facing West Seattle.
1:44 PM: Kersti says in comments that another group is “about 20 minutes behind” this one, including the hard-to-miss “Chainsaw”!
ADDED SUNDAY EVENING: Thanks to Robin Sinner for the photo!
7:42 AM: Kersti Muul reports transient killer whales are back in Elliott Bay this morning. Look toward downtown.
8:42 AM: See Kersti’s update below – they’re now in the central Sound and southbound.
11:21 AM: In addition to the updates in comments, Kersti called to say the orcas, now back in Elliott Bay, are headed toward Alki, close to shore, and “Chainsaw” is with them again.
1:22 PM: Added photos by David Hutchinson – above, you can see why this whale is nicknamed “Chainsaw.” (Also, see Kersti’s photo in comments.)
4:25 PM: Here’s a photo from Robin Sinner, also showing “Chainsaw”:
8:28 AM: Thanks to the caller who just reported at least five orcas in Elliott Bay, headed westbound toward Alki. Let us know if you see them!
8:39 AM: Also just got a report from Kersti Muul, who says they’re now passing Alki and headed southwest “toward Vashon.”
8:51 AM: Kersti says the orcas are moving fast this time and already approaching the north end of Vashon, traveling midchannel.
7:47 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip! Transient orcas are heading southbound past West Seattle right now, passing Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4500 block Beach Drive SW). Kersti says the notch-finned whale nicknamed “Chainsaw” is with them.
8:08 PM: Kersti reports the orcas are now passing Lowman Beach, “and they’re close.”
10:44 AM: The transient killer whales that have been in our area in recent days are still here and headed this way again, Kersti Muul tells us. They’re in the Bremerton ferry lane, emerging from Rich Passage, she reports. Let us know if you see them!
10:52 AM: You’ll need good binoculars – Kersti says the orcas are now southbound, staying closer to the west side of the Sound.
12:12 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip: Transient orcas are back in the area, visible now from Alki (looking north) as they head southbound.
12:24 PM: Kersti says they’re now in Elliott Bay – see her comment below.
1:54 PM: Still in the area, now back out in the main channel – see Kersti’s updates below.
10:04 AM: Orcas are in the area again – Kersti Muul reports they’re “breaching off Constellation Park.” Updates to come.
10:15 AM: Now reported to be “off the volleyball area” on Alki.
11:58 AM: These are still the transient orcas that have been in the area recently, Kersti notes in comments. That means, among other things, they primarily eat mammals – seals and sea lions, in partiicular – while the Southern Resident orcas prefer fish.
2:38 PM: Adding more photos:
ADDED: And a photo from Danny McMillin:
12:05 PM: Transient killer whales are back in the area after several sightings in recent days. Kersti Muul just sent word that transient orcas are in view from Alki, passing the mouth of Elliott Bay, southbound. Murky weather again, so you’ll need binoculars and rain gear.
3:17 PM: See comments for updates from people seeing the whales – currently reported to be passing Lincoln Park!
Visibility is a challenge because of the little-bit-of-everything weather but if you have good binoculars, look west for orcas passing through the area again. Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tips. She says right now they’re southbound in the Southworth ferry lanes, toward the west side of the Sound.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Another local organization just dove back into in-person events: The Whale Trail presented updates Thursday night at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), two years after its previous in-person gathering.
The Whale Trail’s founder/director Donna Sandstrom thanked attendees for “tiptoeing back into the world with us.” Here’s what they heard:
THE WHALE TRAIL UPDATES: Sandstrom began with a reintroduction to her organization, starting with her inspiration, Springer, the orphaned orca rescued after getting lost in Puget Sound 20 years ago – Sandstrom’s written a youth-geared book about it, “Orca Rescue!” Springer has given birth to two calves and is pregnant with a third. Sandstrom recapped the amazing story of how once Springer was returned to a cove in British Columbia, her family came for her. She says the story is heartening even all these years later “because sometimes we can get it right.” Then in 2005 she decided to get involved when Southern Resident Killer Whales were listed as endangered. Her founding idea for The Whale Trail was to “let people know where the whales live” – all over the region, not just in a specific confined place. The SRKWs range from Ucluelet, B.C., to Monterey, California. The Whale Trail encourages land-based whale-watching, for one – with markers placed starting in 2010, first on land, then on ferries starting in 2011. TWT has four signs in West Seattle, educating passersby about the species and their home. They have more than 130 sites, including aboard BC Ferries as well as Washington State Ferries. TWT presents programs and events, from impromptu watching when the orcas are around, to Orca Talks like this one.
11:53 AM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip – transient killer whales are northbound, approaching south West Seattle, closer to this side of the Sound. Let us know if you see them!
2:58 PM: As of Kersti’s latest update in comments, they’re off Alki.
One week from tonight, you’re invited to The Whale Trail‘s first in-person gathering since pre-pandemic days. Here’s the announcement:
After two years of hibernation, The Whale Trail is ready for a new season! Join us to welcome Spring with special guests Rachel Aronson (Quiet Sound), researcher Mark Sears, and Whale Trail Director Donna Sandstrom. Catch up on news about orcas and programs to protect them, and learn how you can help.
Rachel will introduce us to Quiet Sound, a new program to protect whales by reducing noise and disturbance from large vessel like tankers, container ships and ferries. Mark will share photos from recent field research, including encounters with southern resident orcas. Donna will recap news around The Whale Trail, including upcoming events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Springer’s rescue!
Attendance is limited. Get tickets ahead of time here.
Masks are optional but recommended.
What: Whale Trail Spring Gathering 2022
When: Thursday, March 24, 7 PM (Doors open at 6:30)
Where: C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW
Advance tickets: bpt.me/5404648 (Brown Paper Tickets)
Attendance is limited. Masks are optional but recommended.
The Whale Trail’s last in-person gathering was in February 2020, just a few days before King County announced its first COVID cases.
Happy and sad news about the Southern Resident Killer Whales. First, the happy news – J-Pod has a new calf. The Center for Whale Research confirms the arrival of J59, believed to have been born to 21-year-old J37 sometime in the past few days. The two were seen yesterday in the San Juan Islands. CWR says this is the first J-Pod calf born in a year and a half. This brings the number of J-Pod orcas to 74. It’s too soon to know the calf’s gender.
Now the sad news – two other J-Pod whales are believed to have lost their calves, according to SR3. Their researchers documented three pregnant J-Pod whales last September (as reported here) and now says that during a recent sighting, before the aforementioned birth, only J37 appeared still pregnant. The other two had lost body size, and neither was accompanied by a calf. “Unfortunately, reproductive loss has become normal for this population,” SR3’s report says. (These orca updates were first reported by Lynda Mapes of The Seattle Times.)
1:32 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip – a whale sighting west of Alki, closer to the Bainbridge Island side of the Sound. She says they’re not heading in any clear direction right now and that the type of whale – orcas or baleen – hasn’t yet been discerned either. But if you’re at the beach, with binoculars, take a look!
1:45 PM: Kersti says whale-spotters have since deduced this was a “false alarm” – waves from a ship.
Two orca-related items:
WHALES’ MONDAY VISIT: We mentioned orcas were in the area again Monday. Today, two photos from Trileigh Tucker, who says, “There were about 4 adult orcas and one or maybe even two babies – waiting to hear back from Orca Network about the babies. ON identified them as T124s. The lighting was just gorgeous.”
RESEARCH BUOY: As mentioned in our daily preview list, a King County research boat was out this morning deploying a buoy to listen in on undersea noise, a major threat to orcas. Here’s the video recorded during the livestream and Q&A:
This isn’t off West Seattle – closer to Edmonds – but the research over the next three months will be of interest to orca-watchers all around Puget Sound. Full details from King County are here.