West Seattle, Washington
For a second day, Kersti Muul tips us, Southern Resident Killer Whales are in central Puget Sound and headed our way. She says they’ve just been reported off Carkeek Park and are traveling southbound “at a good clip.” No guarantee they’ll make it this far – Kersti says they turned around yesterday before getting this far south – but we’re always committed to giving you a heads-up when we get an alert! Let us know if you see them.
If you’ve got good rain gear and binoculars – or a window with a good view of the water – you can look for a dozen or so orcas headed this way. Kersti Muul says they were southbound off Richmond Beach at last report. And they’re likely Southern Resident Killer Whales. Let us know if you spot them!
Big event ahead for West Seattle-headquartered The Whale Trail. Just announced:
Erich Hoyt, internationally renowned author and marine conservationist, is returning to deliver a new series of talks about orcas and marine conservation. ‘Orca Tour 2019’ follows the sell-out 2014 and 2015 tours and will focus on Erich’s efforts to protect marine mammal habitats worldwide and how they might support the conservation of orcas in the North Pacific. The talks, as well as the release of Erich’s expanded new edition of “Orca: The Whale Called Killer,” are especially timely given the recent loss of three southern resident orcas.
“Orca: The Whale Called Killer” charts Erich Hoyt’s adventures and conservation work, which began with killer whales off the B.C. coast and was followed by two decades of orca research in Kamchatka, Russia. As co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, and policy lead for the Healthy Seas program of the U.K.-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Erich co-directs a 10-year project to map the habitats for 130 species of marine mammals across the world’s oceans. His book, “Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises,” has helped set the standard for marine biodiversity conservation work.
“This is a rare chance to hear from Erich in person,” said Donna Sandstrom, Executive Director of The Whale Trail and a member of Governor Jay Inslee’s Task Force on Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery. “Erich has been thinking about how to protect orcas as long as he has been writing about them, starting in the 1980s when he contributed to the successful effort to protect Robson Bight, a critical habitat for the northern resident orcas. Erich’s talk will inspire and inform our efforts to protect J, K and L pods, here, where his work began.”
Erich added: “It’s special for me coming back to the Northwest to celebrate this new edition of my book—the work that set me on a life path. In my talks, I will introduce a global context for addressing threats and supporting marine habitat conservation. Much has changed for the orcas here. People know the individuals and their families and appreciate their precarious existence—especially the endangered southern residents. We all want to do more to help them.”
The Orca Tour is organized by The Whale Trail and local sponsoring organizations. “Orca: The Whale Called Killer” and Erich’s other books will be on sale at each event. A Q &A and book signing will follow each presentation.
Orca Tour – WEST SEATTLE
Who: The Whale Trail presents “Orca Tour 2019” with Author and Conservationist Erich Hoyt, sponsored by Sound Community Bank
What: Presentation and talk given by Erich Hoyt on “Healthy Seas for Whales and Dolphins” and book signing of new edition of “ORCA: The Whale Called Killer”
When: Thursday, September 19, 7 PM
Where: Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California Ave SW, West Seattle
Tickets: $15 General Admission • $10 Students/Seniors/Kids under 12
Advance Tickets: erichhoyt.brownpapertickets.com
Beautiful day for whale-watching! Kersti Muul sends word that the T-137 transient orcas are “milling” off Alki Point – “no direction” so hard to tell which way they’re headed next. Let us know if you see them!
Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales just texted to say orcas are in view off Alki, headed south. We also have another texted report of a sighting from Me-Kwa-Mooks. Let us know if you see them!
(November 2018 photo by Trileigh Tucker – resident orcas being observed by licensed researchers)
The Center for Whale Research says the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population is down to 73. CWR has announced:
We are saddened to report that three adult killer whales (orca) are missing and presumed dead as of July 1, 2019. These whales are from the extremely endangered Southern Resident killer whale population, that historically frequent the Salish Sea almost daily in summer months. Due to the scarcity of suitable Chinook salmon prey, this population of whales now rarely visit the core waters of its designated Critical Habitat: Puget Sound, Georgia Strait, and the inland reach of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The missing whales are J17, K25, and L84.
J17 is a 42-year-old J pod matriarch and mother of Tahlequah (J35), who carried her dead calf for an unprecedented 17 days last year. We reported that J17 was not in good body condition last winter, perhaps from stress. She is survived by two daughters and a son, J35, J53, and J44, respectively.
Also missing is 28-year-old, K25, an adult male in the prime of his life who was not in good body condition last winter. He is survived by two sisters and a brother, K20, K27, and K34, respectively.
And, lastly, 29-year-old male, L84, has been missing all summer in encounters conducted by our Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans colleagues along the west coast of Vancouver Island. L pod has not come into the Salish Sea yet this summer. L84 was the last of a matriline of eleven whales, ten of whom died previously.
73 is just two above the population’s historic low, 71. And the numbers don’t represent the entire picture of their plight, as explained during The Whale Trail‘s April featured lecture in West Seattle.
(Photo by Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries)
Though West Seattleite Donna Sandstrom, founder and executive director of the nonprofit advocacy/education organization The Whale Trail, served on Gov. Jay Inslee‘s orca task force, she hadn’t met him until he visited one of the stops along the “trail” earlier this month. She shared the photo and explains:
We met him, First Lady Trudi, and their grandson Brody at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park, along with other Whale Trail partners from NOAA Fisheries, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, WDW Enforcement and Washington State Parks.
We talked about land-based whale-watching and its role in orca recovery. And spotted some seals too!
A big day for The Whale Trail, started in West Seattle a little over a decade ago, and inspired by watching orcas from Alki.
You can read the governor’s report on the visit here. See the full list of 100+ Whale Trail sites, from Southern California to British Columbia, by going here.
Just got word from Kersti Muul that orcas were seen northbound off north Vashon about half an hour ago.
Just got a tip – six orcas “with a baby” in view northbound passing the Vashon ferry dock as of a short time ago. Still a good half-hour of light if you’re up for whale-watching!
10:21 AM: Two humpback whales are in the area, reports Kersti Muul. “East of shipping channel, off Alki,” but no direction determined yet. Let us know if you see them! (Not sure you’d know what humpbacks look like? Here’s their page in The Whale Trail‘s species guide.)
1:58 PM: And now orcas are in our area too, Kersti reports – a group of transients southbound off Bainbridge.
Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip: Orcas are visible from West Seattle. Currently, midchannel southbound, north of Elliott Bay. Let us know if you see them!
11:36 AM: The tip’s just in from Kersti Muul: Orcas headed this way, transients, southbound from mid-Bainbridge Island. Let us know if you see them!
12:19 PM: Update from Kersti – the whales have paused for “a kill” between Bainbridge and Blake Islands.
Thanks to Kersti Muul for the alert – she relays word that Washington State Ferries spotted orcas off the north end of Vashon, northbound, as of the top of the hour. Transients, not residents. As always – if you see them, please let us know!
The photo and report are from Eilene Hutchinson:
Around 7:40 this evening, we were just south of Salty’s when we were startled by a loud sound and looked up to see a whale surfacing close to shore. We believe this was a gray whale.
It moved off to the north along the Harbor Ave shoreline. We drove to Duwamish Head, where along with others, we watched it surface a number of times before the whale headed southwest toward Alki Point about 8:00 PM.
Thanks to Byron and Marty for the tips and photos. We’ve confirmed with Washington State Ferries what citywide media first reported: A helicopter search in Elliott Bay followed a ferry apparently striking a whale. A WSF spokesperson tells us it happened just a few minutes after the M/V Wenatchee’s departure from downtown, bound for Bainbridge Island. Passengers saw what they believed was a gray whale surface just a few feet from the bow – too close for the ferry to avoid hitting it. The spokesperson says as far as she knows, no one felt the collision – the witnesses got word to the crew. The ferry continued on to Bainbridge Island; the U.S. Coast Guard searched for the whale, which wasn’t seen again:
(The ferry in this photo is NOT the Wenatchee)
The WSF spokesperson says the USCG thinks it might have spotted something near Pier 66 but darkness has complicated the search. No whales – gray or otherwise – had been reported in the area earlier, so that’s made this a bit of a mystery. WSF has, meantime, also notified NOAA.
(Photo by Mark Sears – permit 21348)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“It’s a good week for the whales!”
So declared Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail as her organization’s May gathering began at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor).
She added: “It’s going to be different for the whales this summer and beyond.” Her explanation at the May 16th meeting was followed by an update from Mark Sears, the West Seattle-based researcher who is ofteb out with them when they visit central Puget Sound.
But first: Read More
(Video by Karen Therese, as orcas passed Lincoln Park)
8:45 AM: Northbound orcas off Constellation Park, reports Kersti Muul.
10:40 AM: Thanks for the updates and photos in comments!
ORIGINAL REPORT, 4:35 PM: Thanks for the tips! We’ve gotten several about northbound orcas passing west-facing West Seattle. Most recently, Kersti Muul – who says it’s the T65a transients – reports they’re passing Fauntleroy. Let us know if you see them!
(Added: Photo by Eilene Hutchinson)
ADDED 9:23 PM: Thanks for the photos! And also thanks to the commenters for the updates as they passed our shores.
Thanks to Kersti Muul for word that orcas are in the area – southbound transient killer whales passing Bainbridge’s Restoration Point as of a little while ago. Let us know if you see them!
(Thursday’s orca sighting, Photo by WSB’s Christopher Boffoli)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Three times in the past week, endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales have passed West Seattle shores.
It’s also been a busy week for one of their most fervent support groups, The Whale Trail.
Just three days after TWT co-presented “Welcome the Orcas“ at Alki – with SRKWs showing up for the occasion – the group’s monthly Orca Talk filled the seats at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor).
Unannounced guest speakers stole the show.
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