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Sightings

100912AdmiraltyHG©Howard Garrett

Recent whale sightings in the Salish Sea

(Puget Sound, Northwest Straits, Gulf Islands and Georgia Strait)

Sightings Summaries Archives

Sighting Report Archives
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The purpose of Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network and Education Project is to encourage observation and increase awareness and knowledge about the Southern Resident Community of orcas (J, K and L pods), and foster a stewardship ethic to motivate a diverse audience to take action to protect and restore these orcas' critical habitat.

The orcas' steep population decline of 20% from 1995 to 2001 is a reflection of the problems and issues facing the greater Puget Sound marine and watershed ecosystems: declining salmon runs, PCB contamination, and the effects of a rapidly increasing human population including habitat loss and resource depletion. Through a volunteer Whale Sighting Network, sightings and observations of this orca community are gathered and disseminated to researchers and volunteers, and posted on our website.

Summarized Sightings map HERE

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Click HERE for recent whale sightings reports.

February 16

Matriarch J16 northbound in Haro Strait passing the lighthouse at Lime Kiln State Park. Stayed at Lime Kiln until about 2pm - saw about 6 orcas spread out about 1/4 to 1/2 mile off-shore - 2 males, a female and youngster very close together the whole time we were there - the others were well off-shore - gradually heading north but generally milling about and feeding....a spectacular first trip to Lime Kiln SP! -Tony Bahnik
(ID by Sara Hysong-Shimazu)

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From 11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m - listened to Js and Ks on OrcaSound hydrophone: S1, S4, S17, S19? and partial S38 or an S40 type call. And echolocation through out. From 11:00 a.m. - 1:40 p.m. - Listened to Js and Ks on Lime Kiln. Heard a variety of calls: S1, S3, S4, S6, S13, S16 and/or S17, S36, S37. Also a lot of echolocation. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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1220 - Some off County Park now including the J16s. Very spread in all directions foraging with LONG dives.
1135 Northbound again.
1130 - I just got to Land Bank they're going slow they may be flipping, they're spread out off Lime Kiln, I see at least 8-10. J42 Echo in the foreground. A distant and brief look, but my first killer whales of 2017! Js and Ks were spread out and foraging this afternoon in Haro Strait before eventually heading north. -Monika Wieland-Shields, February 16, 2017

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10:22 a.m. - Hearing calls at Lime Kiln hydrophone - waiting for the inter island ferry to get to SJ Island - hope they hang around! -Tony Bahnik

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Bigg's killer whales (Transients)
I saw them 2/16 about 1 mile south of the Fauntleroy Vashon run, about half-mile off shore heading south...Didn't get any photos. One large male. Can't determine exact time. Definitely well before sunset. Reviewing the posts, I remember going outside to look in response to 4:45 comments RE Lincoln Park. I live just south of Brace Point. -Jim Nunn

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Approx. 4:45 pm- 6 total that I saw, all passed in between the ferries as they crossed continued southbound through the Fauntleroy/Vashon ferry lanes. With the 3 in lead more mid channel, followed by female with calf and adult male still east side of channel. Steady pace southbound in the glow of the setting sun. This family of orcas moved at a steady pace southbound through Puget Sound today making West Seattle by late afternoon. These clips are from Emma Schmitz Overlook Park and Lincoln Park a short time before the sun settled in behind the mountains. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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Bigg's killer whales passing West Seattle southbound in the late afternoon. Surfacing in tandem while passing West Seattle - backdropped by the northend of Vashon Island. -Kersti Muul, February 16, 2017

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Jeff Hogan called in a report at 4:35, he was watching the male and one other orca traveling south, between the Lincoln Park pool and Blake Island, heading toward Vashon, a bit east of mid-channel; then at 4:40 he called to update that the rest of the pod were ahead of the male and much closer, about 1/2 mile off Lincoln Park, almost to the Vashon ferry lanes.

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4:23 p.m. - Between 5900 block of Beach Drive and Manchester, east of mid-channel, slowly southbound. Two or three in a close group. A male, as well as Possibly a juvenile swimming alongside a female. -Peter Tutak

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4:20 p.m. - leaders 3 females/young males. The other 3 including male, female & calf trailing short distance behind. Still north of Lincoln Park. Mid channel. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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4:10 p.m. - line of sight from Constellation Park to north end Vashon. Four whales including one adult male now mid channel or west of. Appear to be foraging with lots of direction changes. Wish I grabbed my binoculars!
3:59 p.m. - steadily southbound off Alki Point. -Jason Lee Bell

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3:30 p.m. - From Magnolia Bluff see at least 4 incl. Adult male skirting the outer edge of Elliot Bay, downtown Seattle heading towards Alki point at steady clip.
2:45 pm - From a bluff a distance away seeing orca blows near West Point/Discovery Park, north of Seattle, on the east side of the channel, moving at a quick pace southbound, but no firm numbers or IDs. Looks like they are porpoising or engaged in some surface activity while traveling. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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11:12am - Todays visit of a good size Pod was very welcome, it's been awhile since Orcas have visited us in the Puget Sound! I first spotted Orcas (breaching) from North Edmonds as they crossed east of Point No Point on the Kitsap Peninsula. I watched and videoed them as they travelled south mid channel between Edmonds and Kingston. -Stu Davdison

February 15



February 14

2:59 p.m. - Saw lots of Harbor porpoise at Sunnyside Beach (Steilacoom) this afternoon. -Amanda Langan

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Saw about 5-6 Harbor porpoise at Chambers Bay between 11:00a-12p today. Pretty cool. (Steilacoom). -Nick Sue

February 13

Unidentified Orcas - Two small groups - of 4 each - seen at 1600-1625 PST Feb 13 off Caulfeild Point, West Vancouver. Feeding, hunting. One group swam out towards UBC and into middle of Salish Sea. Blows were seen for some distance and quite frequently. Second group - with one very large male - swam alongside an anchored ship at Stearman beach and proceeded towards Dundarave and Lions gate bridge. Have not seen their return as of 1720 PST. Wonder if they're off to Burrard Inlet or Indian Arm? -Jeffrey Franczak

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Puget Sound - Humpback whales
John Dean called to report seeing a whale that was the juvenile humpback reported for the 3 months, about 2-3 pm, just off Gig Harbor. He saw a flipper slap and a half breach.

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Juan de Fuca - There was a young and possibly sickly humpback off Discovery and Chatham Islands, which is at the top of the Banks 2 zone (active military exercise zone). -Val Shore

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Gray whales - Puget Sound - Maia of WA State Ferries called to relay a report of a Gray whale (possible humpback?) near Bainbridge Island, off Blakely Harbor near Blakely Rock, just hanging out and "giving a show" at 1:25 pm.

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Eastern Juan de Fuca - I made it down to NASWI (Naval Air Station Whidbey Island) to check out the whales, it is an adult and calf gray whale. I attached a video of them feed sorry for the poor video quality it was on my phone. In the first few seconds you will see the adult pectoral fin or tail hard to tell and right after you see the calf spyhop a little. I watched them for little more then an hour... Yes that was today around 5pm. I know it's hard to tell by the video. But there are two whales there, they were only 50 yards or so off the beach. And the calf is tiny. It took me awhile before I seen it. She was hiding in moms wake every time they surfaced. The second video has the calf right at the 15sec mark I can zoom in a little on my phone and she spy hops with her mouth open. (Facebook videos which we are unable to include are inconclusive to us anyhow. Follow up with Eric by phone, he says he is positive he observed a calf and that the adult had a large white dorsal ridge patch which presumably is a match for gray in same area reporte by S Jennings on the 12th ) -Eric Rosemore, Capt. & Naturalist Mystic Sea Charters

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Sandy Mattingly sent in a report around 7:30 am that a whale is off NAS Whidbey (Naval Air Station Whidbey) NASWI bldg 2556, the Nor'Wester, again close to shore.

February 12

It's a mom and baby grey whale they were off Cliffside, close to shore off NAS Whidbey Island. all day and night. I got a few but they are not great they were not staying up long ... they were coming up at one point at the same time one was way bigger then the other a day they were just a distant off from each other. Had another whale watcher out here that said mom and baby. I would agree from all the years and tours etc. -Sonya Jennings

February 11

6:00 p.m - Georgia Strait - Mom and babies orca sighting: 5 Orcas - Off the north west side of Lasqueti, we sighted a female and baby heading up the Georgia strait. She was followed by a single smaller orca that looked like a juvenile behind her and away from her, swimming In the shallow water off Lasqueti. Further behind came another mother with a distinctively large dorsal fin swam by with her baby which had a smaller dorsal fin than the first baby. When the first three were way ahead closer to Comox Peninsula they turned sideways in the strait and then the other mother came. People have been catching a lot of spring salmon off Lasqueti the last couple days. We were fishing at the time and didn't catch anything once they went by. It was an especially poignant sighting as I was with my dear friends who had just lost their own baby son two weeks prior. I've heard killer whales have a par of their brain that humans don't have, that allows them to be deeply emotive. I feel like they felt my friends grief and gave them a big shout out that the universe loves them, and life and love exists, even in the midst of such pain. Much gratitude and blessings to the orca pod. -Faren Wolfe

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3:15 p.m. - IE4 is currently on scene with juvenile humpback we nicknamed "Speckles" in north Colvos Passage. Unknown if this is the same whale spotted several hours ago or if there are two whales in the area. -Erin Johns Gless

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WA State Ferries reports a Gray whale between Bainbridge Island and Seattle, southbound at 11:50 am.

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Unidentified whales - About 1:00pm I was walking on beach just north of mouth of Gig Harbor and a (presumed) adult Gray whale surfaced less than 1/4 mile from shore and headed rapidly north into Colvos Passage. I saw a couple more blows as it travelled on. It was much larger than the juvenile humpback seen so frequently in this same area. I am used to seeing it from my highbank house instead of the beach and it really looked like a different and bigger whale with almost no dorsal fin, but it was quite close, and no noticeable speckles, it looked more brownish. -Michele Riley Campbell

February 10

5:30 pm - San Juans - Just spotted large pod off McCracken Point, Henry Island in Haro Strait. Feeding behavior, looks like mammal-eaters. Amazing sighting! Lots of activity Many awesome breaches, Too dark for pictures. Seen between Henry Island and Battleship Rock. Two giant bulls and possibly 15 others. Headed south toward Victoria. -Dana Zia, Henry Is.

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4:45 p.m. - my neighbor and I spotted orca's going through Spieden channel westbound very quickly looked like about 10 to 12 whales seemingly tight group but they were too far out to make any other ID. I think 1-2 adult males that I could see. -Peggy Mauro

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"We saw a pod of unidentified Orcas today while on the WSF from Friday Harbor to Orcas Island at approximately 2:20 pm. They were headed in the opposite direction of the ferry. Here is a picture my husband Steve took from the ferry." -Gloria Eppig,

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12:20 pm - Georgia Strait - Watched what looked like 15-20 Orcas (including 2-3 adult males) today in a magnificent display of tail slaps, fin slaps and full breaches! Were in sight for nearly 3 hours, in the strait between Chemainus and Thetis (about 20 miles SE of Nanaimo, BC). A nice mixture of large and small dorsal fins. Absolutely wonderful to witness this! Feeding, playing. Not happy about one boat that got too close. Fishing trollers were very respectful and gave lots of space. -Courtney Caulford

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0645-1030 - Gray Whale less than 30 meters off shore from NASWI bldg 2556, the Nor'Wester (Naval Air Station Whidbey). It's real close and it's big. It's showing us spouts, back and dorsal fin (no tail yet). Looks like it's eating. It's been swimming up and down the shore for at least the past four hours. Will keep updating if this one stays for three weeks like the one in November 2016. -Sandy Mattingly

February 9



February 8

3:50 p.m. - We just caught a brief glimpse of a whale traveling south at Kayak Point (Port Susan, between S. Camano Island and Marysville). We have seen grays in February before but this one is unique in that it has a shark-like dorsal fin...Minke? Did not get a Photo. (could be a humpback, or possible a feeding gray showing the tip of its fluke, looking like a fin? SB) -Gary Lingenfelter

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Small whale spotted from 8:15am Vashon water taxi. Spouted twice. The whale was spotted shortly after departing from Vashon north of the island and appeared to be heading west. It spouted twice & turned sideways, but we didn't get a good look at detail. It appeared to be gray & was small; likely juvenile. (possibly the young humpback who has been hanging around the south Sound- ALB) -Karen Davis Smith

February 7

11:00 a.m. - after nearly an hour of quiet... just heard another faint couple of calls. Tuned in at 9:40, began hearing Bigg's vocalizing on Lime Kiln at 9:59 a.m. Lasted several minutes. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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9:08 a.m. - hearing some faint calls on Lime Kiln. -Jill Clogston

February 6

J27 west bound off of Trial Island this snowy winter's afternoon. -Mark Malleson

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12:25 p.m. - J16, J19, J36, J52, J17, J35 and J53 southbound Haro Strait at Land Bank, west side San Juan Island. All finally passed LB bout 10 minutes ago. Still southbound... Very spread out front to back, and shore, outward.(ID by Melisa Pinnow, CWR)
11:47 a.m. - Southbound at Land Bank. -Cher Renke

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12:12 p.m. - Far eastern end Westside Preserve, same group, 5-6 individuals.
12:06 p.m. - Deadman Bay, same group. 2 adult eagles calling at a subadult flying past orcas. Beautiful!
11:50 a.m. - close to shore, small group of orcas (5 for sure, maybe 6) heading down island seen from overlook Landbank Westside...-Michelline Halliday

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11:52 a.m. - Loud underwater splashing sound (not typical percussive sound of pec slap or breach)
11:20-11:51 a.m. - heard lots of S1, S4, S10 and I think S6 calls. Lots of echolocation and calls and echolocatoin got quite loud on Lime Kiln.
11:17 am - loud calls on Lime Kiln.
11:12 a.m. - S4 and S10 calls on OrcaSound.
11:08 a.m. - echolocation and calls on Orca Sound.
11:01 a.m. - nice echolocation, been hearing off and on past 20 minutes!
10:57 a.m - some gurgling or growling like sound.
10:48 a.m. - Loud S4 calls ascending and descending.
10:40 a.m. - start hearing echolocation.
9:58 a.m. -10:35 a.m. - distant and closer calls, including S1, S4, S7. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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Listening to J pod vocalize near the Lime Kiln State Park hydrophone since 10 AM, still going on at 10:30 AM. -Ashley Miller

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10:40 a.m. -Humpback just swam by Point Ruston, Tacoma. Rounding the tip toward yacht club. Westbound along the water walk and around the tip towards Owen beach. S/He was going slow and didn't surface again for a couple minutes. -Cathy Baker

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February 6th with J pod - Center for Whale Research Encounter 14.

February 5



February 4

February 4 with J pod - Center for Whale Research Encounter 13.

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Jpod and L87, J16 and J50 west bound off of Jordan River west bound in the Juan de Fuca Strait. -Mark Malleson

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Humpback swimming under the Fox Island bridge today at low tide. -Sarah Richardson

February 3

J pod, outside my house tonight! 5:00pm Pt Caution in San Juan Channel, north side of San Juan Island, south bound! -Capt. Hobbes Buchanan

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2:04 p.m. - 3 orcas; Two large Orcas and one smaller. Travelling south to north, mostly on the surface about 200 meters from the shoreline Saanich inlet off Ardmore. -Barbara Ashwood-smith

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My wife and I saw a whale today while walking along Owen's Beach at Point Defiance. We followed it along the beach and watched it for about an hour. It was no more than 50'-100' off the beach most of the time. The dorsal fin was way too small for an Orca but it had a large dark colored body and tail, much larger than a dolphin. It looked a lot like a Minke but I can't say for sure. I tried to get some pictures but didn't catch it in time. It was swimming slowly, mostly in one direction then turned and stayed around the same area just north of the extreme end of Point Defiance. There seemed to be a few seals or sea lions following it so maybe feeding? (probably the juvenile humpback who has been living in this area). -Sierra Hartman

February 2

T36s, T36As, T99s, T101s, T124C...Dave headed to Snug Harbor and left aboard "Orcinus" at 1415. The whales were about 3/4s of a mile off Lime Kiln and slowly heading north spread out in small groups....Dave ended up missing T77A but Jeanne got photos of him from shore to prove he was there...See Center for Whale Research Encounter 12 for full summary report and photos.

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4:30 p.m. - I can hear them, though faintly. -Jennifer Hammer

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3:45 p.m. - Heard vocals until 3:20 then quiet for 25 minutes then started hearing faint calls again now.-Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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2:28 p.m. - Is that Ts echolation I'm hearing? -Connie Bickerton

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2:20 p.m - still going... loud calls now and echolocation...been loud intermittently.
2:10 p.m. - started listening in on Lime Kiln,faint Transient calls. -Alisa Lemire Brooks, Orca Network

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2:04 p.m. - Orcas on Lime Kiln. -Alethea Leddy

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1:46 p.m. - Orcas on Lime Kiln Hydrophones! They sound like distant Transients. -John Boyd

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4:00 p.m. - 5 orcas sighted. Just saw five orcas NE of Hudson Rocks Ecological Reserve, closer to Sunshine Coast than Nanaimo. Spotted using a scope. Mixed grouping, probably one male 3 females and a baby, traveling, maybe feeding as birds were following close by. -Sandra Basher

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5:12 p.m. - Juvenile whale off Pt. Defiance right now. -Ryan Johnson

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4:34 p.m. - Just saw her/him surface north of Owen Beach heading north. -Cathy Baker

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1:57 p.m. - Not the best quality because the lil guy was so far away but he/she was very active. That was from Owens beach. -Jami Cantrell

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Spotted Speckles off of Dalco around 1:15 today, ran down to Owens beach and was able to see it there also fairly close around 1:45!

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Volunteer Desiree Sauve reports first seeing the same juvenile humpback(who has been in the area for over 2 months now) around 1:00 pm in Dalco Passage off Point Defiance, Tacoma this afternoon. At 1:35pm the whale was heading towards Owen Beach.

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Approx. 3:30 or 4 pm. Juvenile humpback breached in Dalco Passage, right in front of Point Defiance Park, backropped by south Vashon Island. -Rick Snodgrass

February 1

J51 and mom J41, J26 and his sister J36. At about 2pm today about 6 - 8 Orcas were north bound in Trincomali channel and then went east through Porlier pass. -Karen Smith
(ID by Melisa Pinnow, Center for Whale Research)



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