Whales 242 results

ORCAS: J-Pod whales off West Seattle

Now that we’re between squalls again, you have an opportunity for whale-watching: Kersti Muul reports that Southern Resident Killer Whales from J-Pod are in Elliott Bay off West Point (Magnolia) after traveling southbound in recent hours. Let us know if you see them!

WHALES: Orcas in the area

Thanks to Kersti Muul for the report that orcas have been making their way down central Puget Sound southbound. Just as the rain finally lightens, she says they’re off The Arroyos now, toward the west side of the Sound – members of J-Pod. They’ll eventually have to head back north, though!

WHALES: Southern Resident orcas in the area

3:32 PM: Southern Resident Killer Whales have been traveling south all day and they finally arrived in our area around 3 pm, seen in Elliott Bay – from J and K Pods, Kersti Muul reports. Let us know if you see them!

3:59 PM: Visible from Alki, according to another texter. And Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail is south of Alki Point with binoculars to share.

4:13 PM: Donna just called to say they’re easy to see from where she’s at (Charles Richey Viewpoint/Constellation Park).

5:08 PM: Updates in comments – they were passing Lincoln Park as it got dark.

ORCAS: Your first 2023 chance to whale-watch!

12:09 PM: Just texted by Kersti Muul: “New Year’s whales!” Transient orcas are headed north toward The Arroyos, closer to this side of the channel, and she says, “The water is really beautiful for viewing today, flat and calm, misty with a little bit of sun.” Let us know if you see them!

12:28 PM: Kersti says they’re approaching Brace Point.

UPDATE: Orcas off West Seattle

3:08 PM: Just got word from Kersti Muul that several orcas are reported in “southern Elliott Bay,” seen from a state ferry. Let us know if you see them!

3:27 PM: Just received this video recorded by Erica Quimby from Alki:

3:33 PM: Kersti just texted that “they are super-close passing Alki Point.”

3:51 PM: Also from Alki, Ryan Nestle sent this photo:

Ryan says, “We were driving back from a late lunch at Harry’s Beach House, when I spotted them right off the tower. Picture only shows two, could have been 4 or 5 by our count. We’ve lived here in West Seattle for 3 years and this was my first sighting. Let’s just say I was beyond excited.”

3:56 PM: And Kersti just texted to say they’re now in view off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4500 block Beach Drive SW), still closer to this side of the Sound, but moving southbound quickly.

4:05 PM: Another texter sent this photo of people lining Lowman Beach to whale-watch:

4:25 PM: As it gets dark, Kersti says they’re passing Lincoln Park. Also: “There’s a little, little baby in the group.” (These are transients, by the way, not the endangered residents.)

‘We can rescue the Southern Residents’: Optimism and updates at The Whale Trail’s winter gathering

(L pod in Puget Sound in November – photo by M, Sears, Permit 21348)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At The Whale Trail‘s first major gathering since before the pandemic, there were words of warning and words of hope.

The Southern Resident Killer Whales aren’t recovering yet. In 2018, TWT’s executive director Donna Sandstrom reminded the gathering at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), they numbered 74 – a dangerously low number – and they’re down to 73 now. Two calves were born this past year, but three whales were lost.

One cause for hope, though, is the ever-increasing number of people taking an interest in their plight – all the tickets for last night’s gathering sold out in advance. “This is about what it looks like when J Pod and K Pod get together,” Sandstrom laughed toward the start, referring to two of the three “pods” – family groups – that comprise the Southern Residents, who have been officially listed as an endangered species since 2005.

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ORCAS: Dive deeper into Southern Residents’ status at The Whale Trail’s gathering Thursday

(L pod in Puget Sound – photo by M, Sears, permit 21348)

Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to see Southern Resident Killer Whales during one of their recent appearances off West Seattle. It’s a thrilling sight – but also troubling to know they remain endangered, with their population still near a historic low. What are researchers finding? What can you do to help? If you can spare a little time this Thursday night, you can find out at The Whale Trail‘s next gathering, here in West Seattle. Here’s the invitation:

A record chum run has brought J, K, and L pods back to central Puget Sound even more than usual this year. Join The Whale Trail for its annual winter gathering, where researchers Mark and Maya Sears will present photos and findings from recent encounters with these beloved and iconic pods.

TWT Director Donna Sandstrom will share exciting updates on key initiatives to protect the orcas, and how you can help. Celebrate the season, and the whales, with old friends and new. Hope to see you there!

What: Whale Trail Winter Gathering featuring presentation by Mark and Maya Sears
When: Thursday 12/15, 7 PM. Doors open 6:30.
Where: C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW
Cost: $5 suggested donation. Kids under 12 get in for free.

Space is limited! Get tickets soon.

ORCAS: West Seattle whale-watching at sunset

December 11, 2022 4:30 pm
|    Comments Off on ORCAS: West Seattle whale-watching at sunset
 |   West Seattle news | Whales

Just as it starts to get dark, Southern Resident Killer Whales are in the area again, Kersti Muul tells WSB. J-Pod is visible from Alki Avenue, she says, “south of Eagle Harbor, west in channel.”

WHALES: Orcas again in view from West Seattle – 2 groups

9:39 AM: Southern Resident Killer Whales are in central Puget Sound again today. Kersti Muul reports they’re “spread from Wing Point to the north tip of Bainbridge,” traveling southbound. Let us know if you see them!

10:13 AM: Kersti says the leaders are passing Alki Point; we’ve also just gotten a call from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales who says they’re south of Alki Point and easy to see.

10:46 AM: More updates in comments – thank you!

11:20 AM: Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail called to say the second group is between Bainbridge and Blake Islands.

WHALES: Orcas off West Seattle

9:06 AM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip – orcas southbound from Alki Point.

9:52 AM: Kersti says in a comment below that they’re now all the way to The Arroyos, and that they’re Southern Residents- K-Podl

WHALES: Orcas in view from West Seattle

11:56 AM: Orcas are in the area again. Kersti Muul says they’re headed southeast in Elliott Bay and visible from Alki.

12:52 PM: Kersti via comments and Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail via text report that the orcas are now southbound past west-facing West Seattle, and that they’re Southern Residents.

ORCAS: New state report recommends keeping some boaters and paddlers further away from endangered Southern Resident whales

(Photo by David Hutchinson, from January 2020 visit of Southern Resident Killer Whales)

“A big win for the whales.” That’s how Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail describes a new recommendation from the state to require some boaters and paddlers to give Southern Resident Killer Whales more space. She served on the governor-appointed task force that advocated for SRKW protections including keeping boats further away from the endangered orcas. Here’s what the state has announced:

A new report released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recommends that the Legislature increase the vessel buffer for recreational boaters, commercial whale watching operators, and guided paddle tours around Southern Resident killer whales to 1,000 yards to further support orca recovery.

Prompted by Senate Bill 5577, the report considers the effectiveness of rules for recreational boaters and commercial whale-watching operators aimed at protecting Southern Residents from the effects of vessel noise and disturbance.

Listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, Southern Resident killer whales face three main threats: lack of food, contaminants in their food, and vessel noise and disturbance as they forage and communicate using echolocation. Center for Whale Research’s September 2022 census recorded the Southern Resident population at just 73 individuals.

Just this past summer, the Department designated 12 Southern Residents as vulnerable after researchers demonstrated they were in the lowest body condition state—the bottom 20% for the whale’s age and sex—which is associated with a two-to-three times higher rate of mortality.

The news release also notes:

The Department also recommends maintaining the definition of commercial whale watching and the license requirement, but recommends changes to reduce the potential financial and administrative burden of the license and rules, simplifying where possible, and further distinguishing between motorized commercial whale watching and non-motorized, guided paddle tours. While the report recommends a 1,000-yard buffer around Southern Residents, it doesn’t suggest any changes to commercial or recreational viewing of other, healthier populations such as Bigg’s killer whales, humpback whales, gray whales, or any other whale species currently in the area, which comprise most whale-watching opportunities in Washington.

The full 86-page report is here. Sandstrom says The Whale Trail was part of a focus group interviewed while the report was being prepared, and supports its recommendations. She points to research “quoted in the report shows that female Southern Resident orcas stop foraging when vessels approach closer than 400 yards, and that SRKW exhibit behavioral changes when vessels approach closer than 1,000 yards.” That study (summarized here) was by researchers including West Seattleite Jeff Hogan. The current regulations are a 300-yard buffer on either side for recreational boaters and 400 yards in front and behind, while commercial whale watchers have to stay 1/2 nautical mile away October through June but are allowed to view the Southern Residents from 300 yards away for two 2-hour periods each day July through September.

The Legislature would have to take action to put this new recommendation into place – but in the meantime, she notes, “Until the law is changed, boaters can voluntarily pledge to stay 1/2 nautical mile from SRKW by taking the pledge at GiveThemSpace.org.”

ORCAS: In central Puget Sound again this afternoon

1:33 PM: Orcas have been headed north along the west side of Vashon Island, in Colvos Passage, and Kersti Muul just texted that they’ve emerged from the passage and are headed northeast, so they might be in view from West Seattle as you look across Puget Sound. Let us know if you see them!

2:10 PM: See comments for updates. It’s K Pod, according to both Kersti and Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail, who just texted that she’s out at Charles Richey Viewpoint (Constellation Park) and that the whales are in view with binoculars. “Bundle up!” she advises.

ORCAS: Ready for Thanksgiving whale-watching?

Orcas are back in the area today, per Kersti Muul – seen headed southbound past West Point (which is on the northwest edge of Elliott Bay). Let us know if you see them!

PHOTOS: Orcas off West Seattle

10:55 AM: Orcas are in Elliott Bay this morning, reports Kersti Muul. She says they’re Southern Residents from J-Pod. Let us know if you see them!

(Added: Photo by Greg Snyder, as posted in comment below)

2:34 PM: According to a text from Kersti and a comment below by D-Mom, at least some of the whales have turned around to head back northbound. Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail has been out watching them too and shared this link via email with context on the salmon runs and weather that have ultimately affected the orcas’ travel pattern this year.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Added two photos – above and below – by Robin Sinner.

WHALES: Orcas off West Seattle, day 4

7:46 AM: Orcas are in the area again today! They just passed “super close” ro Constellation Park, southbound, Kersti Muul tells us. And now they’re in view from Emma Schmitz Overlook (4500 block of Beach Drive).

(Added: Photo tweeted by @i8ipod)

8:30 AM: Off Fauntleroy, still SB per comments/emails (thank you!).

9:40 AM: Commenter Kris says at least some have turned back northbound.

WHALES: Orcas in the area, day 3

(Added: Photos by Robin Sinner)

9:40 AM: For a third consecutive day, Southern Resident Killer Whales are in central Puget Sound. Kersti Muul reports resident orcas were seen passing West Point on the north side of Elliott Bay a little while ago, heading southbound, quickly.

10:11 AM: Commenter Shannon says they’re now in view from Alki, looking toward Bainbridge.

10:21 AM: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail texted to say they’re is at Constellation Park with binoculars to share.

11:22 AM: Just got a text about a sighting near the Fauntleroy ferry dock.

2:36 PM: Just heard again from Donna, and also from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales, reporting the orcas are now northbound, visible from Lowman Beach/Lincoln Park.

3:11 PM: Donna says they’re visible now from Alki, if you look west/northwest.

ORCAS: Heading our way again

For a second day, orcas are reported in central Puget Sound. Kersti Muul says they’re reported southbound. off West Point (north side of Elliott Bay).

WHALES: Orcas in the area

(Added: Photos by Robin Sinner)

8:05 AM: Southern Resident orcas are in the area, southbound toward Alki, reports Kersti Muul, who says they’re from L Pod.

8:45 AM: See comments for updates.

9:44 AM: Thanks to everyone for those updates! Kersti noted in her most-recent comments that (a) all three of the endangered Southern Residents’ pods were represented – J, K, and L – and that they’d turned around and headed back northbound.

WHALES; Transient orcas in nearby waters

October 31, 2022 2:28 pm
|    Comments Off on WHALES; Transient orcas in nearby waters
 |   West Seattle news | Whales

Just got word from Kersti Muul that transient killer whales are near us in Puget Sound, seen northbound from Southworth. Let us know if you see them!

WHALES: Orcas seen off West Seattle

Thanks for the tips! Multiple reports of orcas in the area, seen from Alki Point and in Elliott Bay.

WHALES: Orcas seen from Alki Point

4:49 PM: Also out on the water on this blustery day – orcas! Kersti Muul tells us whales are southbound off Alki Point. Let us know if you see the black fins among the whitecaps!

5:59 PM: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail just called – no luck watching for them from west-facing West Seattle, so they may have turned around.

WHALES: Orcas in Elliott Bay

9:32 AM: Visibility is a challenge on this foggy morning but just so you know, Kersti Muul reports that the transient orcas seen in the area on Monday are back this morning, this time heading into Elliott Bay.

9:51 AM: Kersti says they’re visible from the Pepperdock Restaurant area on Alki (2600 block Alki Avenue SW).

11:08 AM: Thanks to commenter Sam for the photo!