Whales 331 results

WHALE SIGHTING: Humpback off West Seattle

8:57 AM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the alert – a baleen whale (gray or humpback, generally) is northbound off Brace Point, “very close to shore.” Let us know if you see it!

10:28 AM: Kersti says it’s a humpback, now off Constellation Park.

WHALE SIGHTING: Humpback in Elliott Bay

If you’re heading out for the low-low tide (-2.8 feet at 11:43 am), you can do some whale-watching too – Kersti Muul just texted with word that a humpback whale is “smack in the center of Elliott Bay.” Let us know if you see it!


Early-evening whale-watching opportunity! Kersti Muul just sent word of a baleen whale (usually either a gray or humpback) in view off Alki Point.

‘Give Them Space’: How boaters can help Southern Resident Killer Whales this season, even before new law takes effect

This weekend marks the official start of boating season, and boaters are encouraged to keep their distance when Southern Resident Killer Whales are in the area. Here’s the reminder from a coalition of advocates and authorities:

(Photo of Calf J56 [Tofino] and Mother J31 [Tsuchi], by Mark Sears, NOAA Permit #21348)

Last year the Washington State Legislature passed a new law requiring boaters to stay 1,000 yards away from the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, beginning in January 2025. With the opening of the boating season, national and regional conservation groups encourage boaters to take the voluntary pledge at givethemspace.org and give the whales the space they need today.

The Southern Resident orca population currently consists of 74 individuals, nearing their historical low of 71. “There are nine calves under 5 years old in the population, including Tahlequah’s newest calf, and six of those are female,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail. “The future of the population is here. Their ability to survive and thrive into adulthood depends on the actions that we take today.”

“Our goal is that every boater in Puget Sound, and through the Southern Resident orcas’ range, will take this pledge, and do their part to give the whales the space they need, even before it is required,” said Rein Attemann, Puget Sound senior campaign manager at Washington Conservation Action. “Boaters have a unique opportunity to play a role in the Southern Residents’ recovery, simply by avoiding them while at sea, and making it easier for the whales to find and catch their prey.”

“The Southern Residents are on the brink of extinction due to human-caused threats, including lack of prey, toxic contaminants and disturbance by boats and noise,” said Kathleen Callaghy, Northwest representative at Defenders of Wildlife. “Giving the whales space is the simplest and most immediate way we can help them, and we don’t have to wait until 2025 to do so.”

The law implements a recommendation from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) based on recent science showing that when vessels approach closer than 1,640 yards it significantly reduces the whales’ ability to find and catch prey. The harm from vessel noise and disturbance is more pronounced in females, who abandon hunts when boats approach closer than 400 yards.

Currently, commercial whale-watching operators are required to stay 1,000 yards away from Southern Residents most of the year, while other boaters are allowed to approach as close as 300 yards. The new law resolves that difference. Having one distance for the majority of boaters gives the whales the space they need to forage successfully, and the rule will be easier to communicate, comply with and enforce.

“Even though the distance requirement is not mandatory until 2025, there’s no reason to wait to give the whales the space they need,” said Lovel Pratt, marine protection and policy director at Friends of the San Juans.

“On the long road to recover the Southern Residents, Washington State has taken a big step forward,” said Miguela Marzolf, ocean policy coordinator at the Seattle Aquarium. “We encourage the federal governments of Canada and the United States to follow suit and give the whales the space they need throughout their range.”

“WDFW’s Orca Regulations Communications Advisory Group, or ORCA Group, is working hard to help the Department get the word out about the upcoming change to the distance regulations,” said Julie Watson, WDFW’s Killer Whale Policy Lead. “Everyone can help by spreading the word and setting an example now by practicing the 1,000-yard setback before it goes into effect in 2025.”

PHOTOS: Orcas off West Seattle

3:29 PM: Just texted by Kersti Muul: Orcas are “super close to shore,” northbound, headed toward Lincoln Park.

7:51 PM: Thanks to David Hutchinson for sending photos of the orcas – transients, he says – as they passed Constellation Park and headed into Elliott Bay.


A gray whale is feeding close to shore off Alki. Kersti Muul says it’s about 100 feet out off the 1700 block of Alki Avenue SW right now and was close in off the west end of Alki earlier.

SEEN OFF WEST SEATTLE: Gray whale, northbound (photo added)

1:20 PM: Whale sighting just in from Kersti Muul – a baleen whale, northbound, close to shore, headed toward Brace Point. (That description means it could be a gray or humpback, among others.) Let us know if you see it!

6:12 PM: Kersti noted earlier in a comment that this is a gray whale. Added above, a photo from David Hutchinson, who says he “was fortunate to see the gray whale passing Constellation Park just after 3 PM today.”

WHALES: Transient orcas in the area

Another marine-mammal sighting tip just in from Kersti Muul: About six transient orcas, northbound along the east side of Blake Island, “about to Tillicum Village.” Let us know if you see them!

PHOTOS: Two groups of orcas in the area

10:07 AM: Eclipse visibility: Iffy. Whale visibility: Good news – Kersti Muul just sent word of two groups of orcas in the area: “Group 1: southbound from West Point. Group 2: west of mid-channel off the north end of Blake Island, unknown direction of travel.” Let us know if you see any!

10:22 AM: Kersti has updated in a comment below. In short, group 2 is headed out of sight (for now) along the west side of Vashon, but group 1 has entered Elliott Bay.

1 PM: Another update below from Kersti; meantime, we’ve added a photo above, sent by Dan Ciske.

6:24 PM: Thanks also to Robin Sinner for the next photo, taken as orcas passed Constellation Park:

PHOTOS: Evening orca sighting!

6:16 PM: Just in from Kersti Muul: “Large group of transient orcas has been southbound and some are now south of West Point – just east of mid-channel.” That means they’re passing through the entrance to Elliott Bay. Let us know if you see them!

(Added: Photos by David Hutchinson)

6:20 PM: Update from Kersti – orcas are now heading into the bay.

6:40 PM: See comments for updates.

10:06 PM: Added two photos above, courtesy of David Hutchinson, who says they were “taken near the west end of the Alki promenade and from Constellation Park.”

ADDED TUESDAY: Photo from James Tilley:


ORCAS: Sunday whale-watching

Just texted by Kersti Muul – orcas are southbound off Restoration Point (which is on Bainbridge Island directly across the Sound from the mouth of Elliott Bay). Let us know if you see them!

SIGHTING: Gray whale in the area

1:50 PM: Friday afternoon whale watching! Reported by Kersti Muul – a baleen whale is in the area, most recently seen in the Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry lanes, southbound.

4:03 PM: If you haven’t seen Kersti’s updates in comments – she says it’s a gray. (Around here, baleen usually means gray or humpback – though others have shown up on occasion.)

WHALES: Back in Elliott Bay and other nearby waters

10:04 AM: Transient killer whales are in Elliott Bay again on this rainy morning – off Duwamish Head, Kersti Muul reports. Let us know if you see them.

11:16 AM: See comments for updates!

PHOTOS: Orcas in the area; grays nearby, too

11:36 AM: Just texted by Kersti Muul: “Group of transients popping out of Colvos passage now NB toward Southworth.” (Colvos is the waterway along the west side of Vashon.)

1:26 PM: In addition to her update in a comment below, Kersti texted: “We had 2 grey whales near Restoration Point SB a while ago – likely still in the area.” (Restoration Point is on Bainbridge, right across the Sound from Alki – here’s a map.)

2:16 PM: Kersti says the orcas have gone into Elliott Bay.

ADDED 5:40 PM: Thanks for the photos! James Tilley says the orcas engaged in a “breachfest” near Anchor/Luna Park:

David Hutchinson caught one too:

Robert Spears noticed lots of boat activity in the area:

(added) One more photo! This one’s from Dan Ciske:

WHALES: Saturday sighting

March 23, 2024 11:42 am
|    Comments Off on WHALES: Saturday sighting
 |   West Seattle news | Whales

11:42 AM: Just texted by Kersti Muul: “Group of orcas near Seattle to Bainbridge ferry lanes … Direction unknown.” Let us know if you see them!

12:09 PM: Kersti says the orcas are now off the north tip of Vashon Island, southbound, but not yet clearly showing which path they’ll choose to continue southward (west channel or east channel).

ORCAS: Whales off West Seattle

Thanks to Jan Pendergrass for the photo. Orcas are back in the area today – seen off Duwamish Head as well as southbound off west-facing West Seattle – so if you have a water view, keep an eye out!

WHALES: First orca visit of spring

11:23 AM: While sun lovers might be sad about the gray sky – here’s a side benefit: It’s easier to see the black fins of orcas slicing through gray water than it is to see them in blue water on a sunny day. And if you can break away, or have a window with a bay view, you can look for some right now: Kersti Muul texted to report, “Large group of transients (10+) just entered Elliott Bay proper, north end, Seattle side, southbound.” Let us know if you see them!

11:33 AM: See Kersti’s update in the comment section below.

WHALES: Orcas in the area again

For the second day, orcas are in the area. Kersti Muul texted earlier this morning that they were southbound but already passing Arbor Heights; then another texter reported less than an hour ago they were northbound passing Vashon. Orca Network commenters are seeing them off west-facing West Seattle too. Let us know if you see them!

VIDEO: Orcas in Elliott Bay

12:43 PM: Here’s an opportunity for Friday afternoon whale-watching: Kersti Muul just texted with a report that “a big group of transients” headed southbound just entered Elliott Bay off Magnolia. Let us know if you see them!

3:35 PM: In addition to the updates in comments, we now have video! Thanks to Jamie Kinney for sharing this:

PHOTOS: Orcas in Elliott Bay

2:37 PM: If you have some time for Saturday afternoon whale-watching, head toward the Elliott Bay shore – Kersti Muul just texted that transient killer whales are heading into the bay. Let us know if you see them!

3:51 PM: Jamie Kinney sent that camera-screen shot of an orca he saw from Don Armeni Boat Ramp. He says they’re still visible from there right now!

4:43 PM: And shortly thereafter, the whales headed out of the bay, per commenter EH.

6:41 PM: Thanks to those who’ve sent photos! These three are from Jamie:

And these two are from Robert Spears:

WHALES: Southern Residents’ J-Pod in the area

2:38 PM: After heading south this morning, whales from the Southern Resident orcas’ J-Pod are northbound again and right across the Sound from West Seattle, reports Kersti Muul. She says they’ve exited Colvos Passage (on the west side of Vashon) and are headed for the east side of Blake Island. Let us know if you see them!

3:51 PM: Gary says in comments that as of a few minutes ago, they were passing Alki Point, still northbound.

WHALES: Orcas in the area

2:42 PM: Just got a text from Kersti Muul that orcas are visible from Constellation Park, looking across Puget Sound toward the Southworth ferry terminal. They’re northbound. Let us know if you see them!

4:10 PM: Still in the area, according to an Orca Network commenter who reported orcas just south of Restoration Point on the south end of Bainbridge [map].

ORCAS: In the area

Orcas are passing West Seattle, per a text from Kersti Muul – NB in the Vashon ferry lanes.