December 2003 Whale Sightings
December 31, 2003
At approx. 4:30
Amy had spotted the orcas off Dolphin Pt, NE Vashon
Island, and at 5 pm
she said they were still headed south.
I found whales just inside the west entrance to Active Pass
at about 1330
. It turned out to be transients T31 (Y1), T87, T88, T90, T97, T124, T124b, T124b1 (?), plus about three others of various sizes that looked like they could have been related to T124. They traveled east thru Active Pass and then north up the Vancouver Island side. I left them at 1440
still heading north.
Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research
San Juan Island
We just received a call from Amy Carey, who had a report of ~5 orcas swimming south between Vashon Island and Alki Pt
at 3:15 pm
: whales in Swanson Ch. going towards Active Pass.
: a large group of whales 2 miles east of Active Pass.
Both reports from "Mallard" on a B.C. Ferry to the mainland.
Dave from the center is on his way to try and make contact.
MMRG, Victoria BC
December 29, 2003
Linda Taylor, a naturalist with the Oregon Coast
Gray Whale Watch saw a group of ~4 whales which looked like possible orcas (large fins - she couldn't see the white on them, but said they weren't coming out of the water much) going north past Boiler Bay
at 9:45 am
. She talked to a camper who also saw 4 - 5 orcas at Depoe Bay, 1 mile further north at 9 am
, also heading north.
Art Bradley called from up above Cape Foulweather (getting ready to do a gray whale watch) - around noon, he saw a pod of ~ 6 orcas heading north toward Rocky Shores (Newport, OR area
). There is a small white boat with the whales, either a fishing or WW Boat? He talked to others who also saw the whales, & are sure they're orcas (he said they've seen them here before in April, but never this time of year).
December 26, 2003
Number of animals seen?
Approx. 6, most traveling in pairs, a couple were solo and on the outskirts...
Where did you see them (latitude and longitude if possible)?
I had the awesome pleasure of being on the 9:35 Eastbound Ferry, leaving Bainbridge to Seattle, we were in the middle of the crossing.
What direction were they traveling?
They, initially, were heading towards Elliott Bay. But headed south, when they found themselves in the unfortunate position of being in the middle of the East bound Ferry, to the south, the West bound Ferry to the North and a large cargo ship to the east, heading to into port. A small john boat with two men followed them from the west, then turned and went quickly off in the direction of Eagle Harbor. When the whales were penned in...they then turned south. Their sonar must have been going nuts. I was on the port side of the boat on the lower cardeck and had the distinct pleasure of a mother and baby breach then dive right at the side of the boat in front of me.
When did you see them (date and time of day)?
12/26 approx. 10am
...in the middle of the sound.
What were they doing? Playing? Feeding (on what)?
They were cruising along, with much breaching, almost in parallel to each other, but spread out.
Were there any males (very large fin on their back)?
Believe there might have been two on the outskirts...
Shawn Middlesworth, Seattle
Melanie Salonin of Vashon Island called in a report of a pod of orcas off NE Vashon Island passing Beals Pt. heading north at 1:50 pm
. She reported 3 females and a calf swimming by close to the shore, with at least 4 others swimming further out, spread out, doing some lob-tailing.
Tom McMillen of Salish Sea Charters called to say Chris Sly of Bainbridge Island had reported orcas (he thinks J pod) off Bainbridge Island at 10 am
, heading south.
December 25, 2003
Our family saw the orcas in Penn Cove on Christmas Day. We counted 6 tall fins and watched the whales having a marvelous time for awhile - around 3:30 pm
. We watched them from Monroe Landing, at first, and then followed the road to San de Fuca road and back to the landing.
Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island
Orcas were swimming in the Penn Cove.
We had what looked like two groups of whales in Penn Cove at approximately 3:15pm
. We watched them for about 10 mins. until they headed further into the cove and we lost them in the sun. We never saw them come out of the water but could very plainly see them spouting.
Rick & Diana Walti
December 24, 2003
We received a call from Nancy Nolan at 1:30 pm
, reporting at least 2 orcas traveling north up Saratoga Passage, toward Baby Island (near entrance to Holmes Harbor - E. Whidbey Island).
Susan and Howie
December 23, 2003
I had a report of orcas just off point defiance park on the south end of Vashon island. Closer to the Tacoma side heading East at 12:15
We live on 3 tree point and love to watch the whales. we spotted at least 5 cruising by on the south side of 3 tree point (across from Vashon Island) gracefully heading north at 8:15am
terry & ursula haigh
December 22, 2003
I found the pod of orcas reported earlier just off Lagoon Pt, west Whidbey Island, at 4 pm
heading south at a pretty good pace - not foraging and milling like they were yesterday. It looked like probably K pod again, from what I could see in the late afternoon light. Those of you southward, listen for them tonight and let's all look for them again tomorrow~
Hi, just observed 6-7 Orcas passing north beach and Point Wilson (near Port Townsend), heading south about 1415
. One or two large females the rest were smaller.
December 21, 2003
We heard back from Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research, who was able to ID all members of K pod off Pt. Wilson Sunday afternoon - then a little before 4 pm
they turned and headed south, just as they did earlier in the week.
Whales off west Whidbey. Elsa Leavitt of Bush Pt, Whidbey Island, just called in at 11:50 am
to report a pod of orcas off Bush Pt, heading north. We'll see if we can get over to take a look, and Ken Balcomb is out in his boat looking for fins, so hopefully we'll have more info. and ID's for you soon -
Susan & Howie
We found the orcas off Lagoon Pt, west Whidbey Island. Very spread out, traveling north, doing lots of splashing and foraging, and swimming back and forth.
The whales were approaching Ft. Flagler, still spread out, but closer to the Ft. Flagler side, continuing north.
The orcas were in front of Port Townsend, very spread out, making themselves scarce and hard to see.
The orcas continued north, between Port Townsend and Pt. Wilson, some great breaches happening, just as Ken Balcomb caught up with them!
The whales were off Pt. Wilson, and Ken has Identified them as K pod. We left them at about 3 pm, in Ken's hands, as they were getting too distant for us to see (except for the breaches!).
December 20, 2003
Jeff Hogan called in a report of 10 - 12 orcas off the west side of Vashon Island today - at 2:15 pm
, he had them in Colvos Passage headed north, about 3/4 of the way up the island; at 4 pm
, they had turned around and were heading south through Colvos Passage (the first time that Jeff has observed them traveling south through the passage - they always seem to travel north). He was unsure of ID's, but maybe K pod?
December 19, 2003
I spotted two groups of Orcas today as follows:
. Saw two females in Admiralty Inlet (approximately one mile southeast of Marrowstone Point). They were headed north along the tide line. Observed some tail slapping.
. Saw a pod of at least six females and one male in Admiralty Inlet mid-channel between Marrowstone and Whidbey Islands (at the southern end of Marrowstone). The pod was headed south. Quite a bit of tail slapping.
I found the orcas between Lagoon Pt, Whidbey Island, & Ft. Flagler at 10:15 am
. They were very spread out, actively foraging, but mainly heading in a northerly direction. I thought I saw a large male that could've been J1, but he was WAY on the other side, so can't be sure - but it looked like the same pod that passed by Whidbey two days ago, & likely the pod that was off Vashon and Bainbridge Islands yesterday.
Susan, there is a pod of Orca South of Lagoon Point, North of Bush Pt. near mid channel. Too far for me to see much other than the Victoria Clipper stopped to take a watch. I can not even tell what direction they are traveling. (9:15 AM
Lagoon Point, Whidbey Island
Elsa Leavitt just called at 9 am
to report a pod of orcas (likely the same pod that went by Weds.) heading north off Bush Pt., west Whidbey Island.
December 18, 2003
Received a call from Tom McMillen of Salish Sea Charters, who had a report from Chris Sly of Bainbridge Island that J pod was off Yeomalt Pt, SE Bainbridge Island at 10 am. The orcas were close to the Bainbridge side, heading south.
We've received some updates on the orcas travels down south from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales:
- the pod was off NE Vashon Island near Dilworth, and still heading south - so all you Vashon orca fans get out to the beach on this beautiful day to see some blows & fins!
- The orcas are just north of Pt. Robinson, SE Vashon/NE Maury Island, foraging
December 17, 2003
I received a call from Elsa Leavitt reporting a pod of orcas off Bush Pt, west Whidbey Island, heading south at a little after 2 pm. She saw one large male, & said the orcas were closer to the Whidbey side. I'm taking off to see if I can find & ID them - all of you on S. Whidbey & down into Puget Sound should be on the lookout for fins!
I found the pod of orcas just south of Bush Pt, west side of Whidbey Island at about 2:45 pm
. They were very spread out, except for one tight group of six that were almost on top of each other! I counted at least 15 whales, and though I didn't see any BIG male fins, I saw one or two that looked like they could be sprouters, and two sets of Moms/calves. They were mostly moving south, but doing a lot of feeding under the surface, some of them turning north occasionally, but when I left them at 3:30 pm
they still seemed to be heading south slowly, getting so spread out and spending so much time under the surface it was too hard to watch, count, ID or videotape! But what a treat to see a pod off Whidbey with the setting sun - truly a beautiful day, and some much-needed good whale news.
December 11, 2003
Finally had to pull myself away at about 4:30
.. Whales were on the Tacoma side of the Vashon / Tacoma ferry run. Rick Frye and I watched them for hours down there. One moment they were about to take the turn down to the narrows, the next they were headed nearly up Colvos passage and the next they had all turned completely around and headed east only to do it all over again leaving a complete mystery as to which way they decided to go. Last I saw they were still headed West.
- Jeff Hogan called to say it's K pod off Vashon Island. They just passed the Pt. Robinson Lighthouse & were still headed south. Youngster K36 was looking bright & orange, and there were some breaches happening for the crowd of about 30 lucky people watching from the shore!
- Rick Frye of Vashon Island called to report on the whales - he had just left Pt. Robinson and was further south at Gold Beach, watching the whales as they continued south, further out from shore. Closer to shore he saw two small groups of Dall's Porpoise heading north.
- Jeff Hogan called again to report K pod at the south end of Vashon Island, still heading south, and still traveling very spread out.
Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales just called - his wife Amanda saw a pod of orcas from the Vashon Ferry at 8:50 am
, off the east side of Vashon Island heading south. No ID's yet, (probably J's as that's who has been around) but thought we'd let you know they're there so those of you down south can run to the beach with your binocs! Also, a little blurb on our Urban Orcas
from the Seattle Times today -
December 10, 2003
, Eastpoint, 8-15, stayed at Boiling Reef feeding for about ½ hour, headed north around Tumbo Island, 1 large
December 9, 2003
The footage (King 5 TV, Dec. 9) was of J-Pod....positive spotting of my very close and personal friend J-1 RUFFLES! :)
San Juan Excursions, San Juan Island
Didn't know if you watched the King 5 noon news but they showed Orcas off Alki. Did see a Mom and baby, couldn't tell for sure who they were though but I'm sure you'll get better reports later. :-)
Just saw some spectacular footage of the whales off Alki today on NWCN
December 8, 2003
Whales between Becher Bay and Beechey Head just after 1400
going west. (between Race Rocks and Sooke). 1 very large male and 12+ others including 2 calves. Their actions seemed to indicate residents.
MMRG, Victoria BC
Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research found J pod just south of Active Pass at 12:15pm
, and left them at 1 pm
heading east in Active Pass. He ID'd 17 J pod whales, and said there was much socializing and talking amongst the whales.
December 7, 2003
Returning from a scuba trip in Rich Passage (SE end of Bainbridge Island) back to The Locks (Ballard, n. of Seattle) at dusk last night (12-7) and we saw at least one male Orca cruising the other way (SW) just northwest of Alki in the middle of the sound (may have been more, it was getting dark). Saw one spy hop and then they continued along their way.
Marker Buoy Dive Club
Whales going up Swanson Channel (bet. San Juans & BC Gulf Islands) at 1056
The numbers and descriptions indicate Jpod.
MMRG, Victoria BC
December 3, 2003
We watched at least 5 but others said there were 8 orcas just south of the
Vashon Ferry Dock. They came north and then followed our ferry which was
going to Southworth. They seemed to continue north. Two of the whales
seemed to be males as they were huge and their back fin was magnificent.
There also appeared to be at least 1 small whale.
Tom McMillen of Salish Sea Charters called to say he received a report of ~12 orcas off Shilshole, just north of Seattle, heading north at 2:50 pm
Lori Robinson of Seattle called to say she received a report of ~ 6 orcas off the Vashon ferry at around noon
Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales called to report J & K pods off Vashon Island. He first found them off Dilworth at 10 am
this morning. At 12:30
they were off the north end of the Vashon Ferry run, and the two pods were splitting up - K's were heading due north, while J's were turning NW toward Blake Island.
Dave Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research received a call from John Ford saying the T21's & T18's were seen off Nanaimo, BC today.
December 1, 2003
The transients of 1 December minke kill were T18, 19, 19b, 19c, 20, 21. We could not identify the young minke, and it is presumed dead.
Center for Whale Research, San Juan Island
Jenny Wilson of San Juan Island called to report a pod of orcas passing the west side of San Juan island at about 11 am
, heading south toward Whidbey.
The Orcas that were seen this morning at Eagle Pt. were Transients, and
were observed taking a Minke whale later on near Smith Is. by Ken
Balcomb. I have seen transients chase Minkes in that area before. Jenny
Wilson first spotted them and helped guide Ken to them.
Capt. Jim Maya, Maya's Charters
San Juan Island
AM...Orcas (At least one mature male) at Eagle Pt. headed east at this moment. There are also reports of Orcas near Victoria.
Capt. Jim Maya
Maya's Whale Watch Charters, San Juan Island
Clip Map to enlarge
Map © 2003 used with permission by
Advanced Satellite Productions, Inc.