December 2008 Whale Sightings
December 31, 2008
I found myself riding alongside Captain Ivan out in Haro Strait. And lo and behold, 2 orcas show up!!! We were shocked to say the least. A closer peek found us looking at very familiar dorsal fins--- Transients T20 & T21! They weren't in a big hurry, coming to the surface for 4-6 breaths, and then a long dive. We watched them travel from about Gooch Island to the bottom of Sydney Island before we had to head back. A great way to end 2008!!
John Boyd, Thawed Out Naturalist
The Whales (Transients T20 & T21) passed between Darcy and Sidney Island at 1335.
Ron Bates, MMRG, Victoria, BC Canada
December 29, 2008
At approximately 4:15 p.m. from the Island Packers whale watch boat out of Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California. We saw several Orca including males on both sides of the boat traveling west along the south side of East Anacapa Island of the Channel Island chain at approximately 34 degrees N by 119 degrees W. The school of Orca were trailing a large school of several hundred common dolphin first sighted at approximately 4 p.m. swimming west rapidly past both sides of our boat. The crew explained that they have seen Orca only once before in this area, and their presence could explain the absence of the gray whale they had sighted on their morning excursion to the same area that day.
Jeanne Hahn, Artistic Director, Artist Co-op 7
On the 1:30 p.m. Whale Watch trip with Island Packers out of Channel Islands Harbor CA saw 6 Transient Orcas on the southside of Anacapa Island traveling west about 1/4 of a mile behind a large pod of Common Dolphins. They didn't seem to be in a hurry to catch up to one of them and make a meal. We spent about 30 minutes with them till they passed our boat; the Islander from Island Packers.
December 28, 2008
Island Packers out of Ventura CA saw 6 Transient Orcas off the coast of Oxnard CA. They seem to be traveling eastward at a good speed. There was 1 male for sure. We saw the whales on the 9:30a.m. trip. When we left the Orcas it was about 12p.m. and at that time, they were not too far from Malibu definitely heading in that direction.
December 24, 2008
I was told there were at least 10 orcas headed south in the Haro Strait today approx 12:30 - close to shore near Hannah Heights. I missed them completely...but there was at least one large male and a baby present in the group. This is a reliable source....Merry Christmas!!!
Sandy Buckley, Postcards From Friday Harbor
December 23, 2008
We reached the lookout at Lagoon Pt. at 2:34 pm, just as J pod was passing by heading north! They were VERY spread out, with the leaders at Marrowstone Pt, and the trailers not yet to Lagoon Pt. Most were mid-channel or closer to the other side, but J1 came by close enough to give us a good ID on him. There were some lunges, porpoising, breaches and direction changes that indicated possible foraging. We observed one very tight group of 6 to 8 orcas that surfaced close together and remained on the surface for awhile. They surfaced several more times further north, still traveling in a close group. We left at 3:10 pm as the trailers were approaching Marrowstone Pt.
Susan Berta & Howard Garrett, Orca Network, Whidbey Island
There is a small pod of Orca headed north due west of Lagoon Point at 2:30 PM Tuesday. Looks like maybe 2 males and one female from what I can see in the middle of the channel.
Paul Kukuk, Greenbank, Whidbey Island
We think we sighted a single pilot whale with a small dorsal fin off Lagoon Pt. today at 10:30am Heading north. Black in color with no markings and staying up on the surface mostly.
(we have observed a Pseudorca in this area before, which would also fit with this description and behavior - in the past it's been the lone Pseudorca known as Foster or Wilma - sb)
Don and Jane Duwe, Lagoon Pt. Whidbey Island
Orca Network received a call from Chris Kennedy of the Washington State Ferries, relaying a report from the Victoria Clipper of orcas in the northbound traffic lanes off Apple Tree Cove (N. of Kingston) between 8:30 and 9 am.
Currently running north in Puget Sound aboard UW r/v JACK ROBERTSON. encountered a pod of ~7 orca also northbound off of Edmonds (47 49.0'N x 122 24.5'W) from 0830 - 0900. Observed 1male and 1 or 2 juveniles with females.
andy (Capt. Andrew Reay-Ellers)
December 22, 2008
Pod of 5-7 orcas sighted off the east coast of bainbridge island (near fay bainbridge park) heading south at about 11 am!
Mark Petry, Bainbridge Island, WA
Orcas passed Port Madison (Indianola and Suquamish) and headed around the east side of Bainbridge Island, heading south late morning.
Jean Boyle, Director, Tourism Development, Kitsap Peninsula Visitor & Convention Bureau
The Washington State Ferry Kitsap on the Seattle-Bremerton route called to report 2 orcas at Restoration Pt., S. Bainbridge Island headed south at 3:30 pm. They were near the #4 buoy & east of the fish pen, .5 mile from shore.
Susan at the Washington State Ferry Southworth dock called at 4:30 pm to report a pod of 8+ orcas between Southworth and Vashon Island heading south down Colvos Passage, leaping and jumping, then 5 more whales were sighted, and at 4:40 pm a third group of 4 whales came by.
Jason on the Victoria Clipper called to report J pod at 8:20 am off West Pt., Seattle heading north.
Just saw about 5 Orcas just off of West Point Seattle at 9am today. They are heading north. Looks like a mother and juvenile pair, a single female and 1 or 2 males. They are still visible as I send this (9:10 am).
Doug Miller, Bainbridge Island
December 21, 2008
Scott Brainer from Washington State Ferries called to relay a report of 2 orcas sighted from the Hyak Ferry at approx. 3:30 PM, 1 mile SW of Edwards Pt (just south of Edmonds). Direction of travel was undetermined due to poor visibility.
Annie from the Hansville store (N. Kitsap Peninsula) called at 12:10 to report a pod of orcas heading SE toward Pt. No Point.
A cluster of female orcas went by the end of Adams Rd. (Bush Pt, Whidbey Island) 10:50 AM on Solstice morning-two females way out front, and then about 4 behind with a juvenile.
Christina Baldwin, Freeland, Whidbey Island
Orcas southbound spread mid-channel to Bush Point at 10:30 a.m. - counted at least 12. Saw at least 2 males w females and 2 small young. Changed course across to Windmill hopefully to feed - milling around in a group.
Jan Bell, Freeland, Whidbey Island
A pod of Orca in middle of Admiralty Inlet, I would guess maybe 10 sighted at 10:00 AM headed south. Several large males. We first noticed the Clipper going very slow. I was watching one though my binoculars and had never noticed how they at times swim nearly on the surface slapping its tail above the surface. I was thinking when watching the Orca they don't seem to care how rough the water is or what the temp is.
Paul Kukuk, Greenbank
Bonnie at Bush Pt. Bed & Breakfast called us at 10:25 am to report orcas heading south, closer to the Marrowstone Island side of the water.
Jerry Shimek called at 10:35 am to report 8 - 10 orcas heading south, just south of Bush Pt. Several adult males were present.
Elsa Leavitt called at 10:40 am to relay a report from her neighbor who had just called to say there were orcas swimming past Bush Pt.
December 18, 2008
10:18 AM. The ferry Chelan called in again to report three killer whales, one a male, moving east at Danger Shoal, where Haro Strait meets Speiden Channel, northwest of San Juan Island.
8:20 AM - The ferry Chelan called in a report of 5-7 orcas heading east at Thatcher Pass, between Lopez and Blakely Islands.
December 16, 2008
We have approx 12 Orca up here between Hornby Island and Denman Island (Georgia Strait, north of Nanaimo) heading northbound in Lambert channel (at 9:35 am). The sighting is via the skipper of the BC ferry service.
December 15, 2008
10:29 AM. Possible sighting off Alki? Hard to tell, but from my 8th floor office there seems to be a few large mammals way out beyond the light house splashing about. Could be chop, but if a report from closer by comes in, this is good confirmation. I am in Belltown.
December 14, 2008
2 transients going S. towards Race Rocks from Albert Head (few miles S. of Victoria) at 0853.
December 12, 2008
Saw three orca fins off Brown's Pt, near Pt. Defiance in Commencement Bay, at 10:30 am. Too far away to even think of getting an ID. Too much chop today to see anything even if they were around.
December 10, 2008
There's an orca sighting in the email below, by a reliable observer who does a lot of seawatches. The message came from a birding email list (OBOL), but there is an orca sighting at the end. Boiler Bay is very near the town of Depoe Bay, OR.
09:25:43 -0800 - 1 ORCA (huge individual with towering dorsal moving slowly N 1 mile out)
12:21 AM - Southern Resident calls on Lime Kiln and Orcasound hydrophones. Now hearing SRKW calls on both hydrophones. Upon replay am hearing S1s (J pod) and S16s (K pod). From 00:25-00:42 I've heard no calls... Maybe the ship woke them up and they had a brief midnight chat?
December 9, 2008
Ken Balcomb relayed a report from Victoria that some J pod whales had been seen moving west, toward the Pacific. They've been known to turn around any time though.
December 8, 2008
After getting a call at 8:20 AM from Paul Kukuk at Lagoon Point about "lots" of orcas swimming north in Admiralty Inlet, mid-channel, Jill and Clarence Hein and I went out to get ID photos. We found them spread out off Keystone in the ferry lane at 10:40 and left them at 12:50 at the channel marker bouy at the entrance to Admiralty Inlet as they fanned out over several miles, heading NW up Haro Strait.
Capt. Mark from the Victoria Clipper called at 9:12 AM while passing near orcas spread out across Admiralty Inlet, heading north.
10:24 am, just tuned in and am hearing calls.
Marine Program Coordinator
Port Townsend Marine Science Center
Scott Viers hearing/recording S1, S16, and S7 calls clearly at 10:43 after ship passes.
11:00am, vocalizations at pt townsend (inbetween boat noises!)
Prince of Whales Whale Watching
Watching a single orca swimming steadily north in the channel between Ledgewood and the north end of Marrowstone Island. We were alerted by the Victoria Clipper, which slowed down.
Bill and Cheryl
Ken Balcomb had ten transients near Victoria BC around 11 AM to 1 PM. Dave Ellifrit identified the transients that Ken photographed off the Victoria waterfront mid-day. They were T30, T30A, T30B, T30C, T49A, T49A1, T49A2, T49B, T49B1, T123, and T123A. They mostly traveled northeast toward Trial Island in their matrilineal groups, grouping occasionally at the sites of three seal kills enroute. The only indication of feeding was gathering of gulls for scraps.
December 7, 2008
Brad Hanson of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center was with J's, K's and a few L's between Vashon Island and Pt. Defiance until about 4:15 PM, as the whales returned northward toward Gold Beach.
Appeared to be perhaps a dozen to 20 in pod. Sighted in Dalco Passage about 1/2 mile north of the Pt. Defiance Ferry landing. Traveling east to west toward north entrance to the Narrows. They were stretched out for some distance (maybe a quarter mile). Appeared to be all sizes.
I saw a "pod" of Orcas in Commencement Bay swimming North/Northwest towards Vashon Island. I live above the Bay and Ruston Way in Tacoma. I saw them about noon. I was in shock as I have never seen so many in the Bay before. There were females and young ones and I believe adult males also.
Jon Paterson called with a report of two pods of orcas about 300 yards offshore from Commencement Bay.
8 Orcas headed south toward Tacoma Narrows Bridge then turned around and swam back north, from 2-4pm (we were at Owen Beach at Point Definance Park and they were swimming between Ruston Point and Vashon Island). One very large male, 3 females and one baby (unsure about the other three counld be small males or large females).
1:34 PM - The captain of the Ferry Rhododendron reported 20-30 orcas milling off Pt. Defiance.
1:30 PM - 4 PM - We observed a pod of Orcas swimming toward Pt. Dalco from the vicinity of Dash Point between 1:30 & 2:00 PM. The Orcas were swimming in groups of 2-4 and the groups were spread out over a distance of approximately 2 nautical miles. There were at least 5 different groups, perhaps a couple more. We estimated a total of 20-25 individuals. At 3:00 PM we observed a tight cluster of Orcas off Pt. Dalco from the Dalco overlook on 5-Mile Drive at Pt. Defiance. They swam toward Pt. Defiance and came close enough to be heard when they blew. These individuals remained tightly clustered and remained submerged for longer periods than the small groups observed earlier. This cluster was being tracked by a vessel with personnel dressed in orange. The cluster turned toward Owen Beach and by the time we got there, the Orcas were in the vicinity of the Tahlequah Ferry terminal, heading toward Quartermaster Harbor. This was at about 4:00 PM. We did observe at least two individuals with very tall fins.
Phil & Dawn Frazer
11:30 AM - Joy Nelson called to report at least 20 orcas were seen at Pt. Robinson at 10:45 and at Gold Beach about 11:20, headed toward Commencement Bay.
9:36 AM - The first group was small - about 5. Just 5 minutes ago a huge amount more went by much closer and spread out across the entire channel. At one point we saw 10 of them on the surface. Several of them breached and were playing around. Still moving through very fast, but a very nice treat on a Sunday morning! So many of them all in one place. The water is completely flat and calm, so it made it very easy to spot them.
9:30 AM - An aluminum boat appeared around 9:30 right off of Des Moines watching things - looked somewhat official. I hope they decide to come back along this side of the island so we can see them again! And in the space of 10 minutes, they're *past* Des Moines and heading further south. In a real hurry. Saw two in the lead, one that looked smaller.
9:03 AM About 2 miles northward of Des Moines on that side of the channel. Jumping out and such. We're on the Vashon/Maury side near Luana Beach and have a great view through the binoculars.
Skip Paulis called from Mendocino CA to report 6 - 7 orcas milling about a mile NW of Mendocino Headlands.
December 5, 2008
We just got in (about 2 PM) from watching about 5 or 6 orca for about 45 minutes feeding in front of our house and slowly making their way south. We are on the east side of Orcas on Rosario Strait looking out at the Pea Pod Rocks. One female breached twice. Lots of sea birds overhead and orca actively fishing together. There was one male and several females and a calf.
Ann Jones, Alyson Stephens, Will Stephens
December 4, 2008
At approx 1545hrs I witnessed 8-10 possibly even 12 Orcas travelling south. My location is in Powell River British Columbia, Canada. The Orcas were difficult to count as they were spread out over a vast area. I spoke this morning with a boater who feels there were at least 2 juveniles among them.
While listening in at Lime Kiln, I heard an interesting clanging sound reminiscent of a bell. And then a slight squeek. I turned up the volume and listened more intently, and heard a vocalization that sounded kind of like a cross between a humpback and an orca. Then it got louder, and I realized it was vocalizations from RESIDENTS that were very far away, and I was picking up echoes, which gave it a longer duration. Soon I was clearly picking up J calls, K calls, and a few L's. So I called to Jeanne, who happened to be out on the west side, and she confirmed that residents were several miles off shore, heading from San Juan Island towards Discovery. Those guys sure did some swimming, as they were also spotted at Turn Point lighthouse at 9:00 AM. So they must have gone from Seattle yesterday, probably up Rosario (and maybe to the Fraser River?), and then back down Boundary and out towards Discovery Island.
John Boyd (JB)
Marine Naturalist, Stuck in the library!
Ken Balcomb relayed a report from Radar of J's this afternoon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 7 miles SW of Hein Bank. At last report they seemed to be headed east toward Admiralty Inlet.
I heard some distant calls from Southern Residents on the OrcaSound hydrophones about 11:30, then on Lime Kiln around noon until just after 1 PM.
From the Netherlands, Jette Hope heard very faint Southern Resident calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophone at 13:19 our time.
"Sea Otter" heard very very faint calls @ 11:10 a.m. from Orcasound hydrophone.
The Chief Mate of the Ferry Chelan called with a sighting of two groups of orcas in the Lime Kiln area at 10:20 AM.
The WA State Ferries Operation Center in Seattle relayed a report from the Ferry Evergreen of a minke whale headed north in San Juan Channel, just off Shaw Island, at 1:30 PM.
December 3, 2008
Larry Cowls called with a sighting of "a couple of orcas" upriver in Grays Harbor WA.
I got out to Lagoon Point, Whidbey Island, at 4:10 in time to see 15-20 orcas in mid-channel, heading north. At the entrance to Admiralty Inlet one whale did four breaches in quick succession.
Bart Rulon called at 3:55 PM reporting a large number of orcas just north of Bush Point, going north.
Orca Network got a call from Kathy O'Neil at Bush Point at about 3:45 PM, saying there were 7-10 orcas heading north spread across Admiralty Inlet.
3.30 pm from the beach at Bush Point, Whidbey Island,- lots of activity and splashing across the water (Admiralty Inlet?) heading north towards Pt Townsend. I couldn't tell how many, at least 6 I think, but there could have been a lot more. I watched through binoculars until 4.10 pm as they made their way up.
11:20 - Brad Hanson of NW Fisheries Science Center said J pod had been identified between Edmonds and Kingston.
At 10:57 the captain of the Ferry Spokane called to say there were orcas spread out a little east of the Edmonds/Kingston ferry lane.
At 10:22 the captain of the Ferry Walla Walla called with a pod of orcas in the Edmonds/Kingston ferry lane, headed slowly north.
At 8:20 AM Mark on the Victoria Clipper called with a report of 8-10 orcas just north of Shilshole marina, spread out and headed north in the middle of the traffic lane, between Port Madison and Meadow Pt.
December 2, 2008
I was on the 1:10 ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle today, when we encountered a pod of perhaps 15 Orcas accompanied by two small "escort" boats of biologists. The view was spectacular, even from the ferry and they were very active on the surface!
Stephanie Lewis-Sandy - Bainbridge Island
The whales turned back north about 5 PM after spending at least 8 hours in south Puget Sound, according to Amy Carey on Vashon Island, as relayed by Jeff Hogan. We're monitoring the Port Townsend hydrophones but so far have heard no calls. After spending the day with the NW Fisheries Science Ctr. shooting ID photos, Jeff Hogan called with sightings of J's, K's and L7, L53 and L87. Jeff said the whales were often in resting lines but also milled and foraged, and changed direction often, as evidenced by the many reports throughout the day. Hopefully they found enough chum salmon to fill up on.
At 12:00 the Chief Mate of the Ferry Tacoma reported orcas between Blakely Rock and Tyee Shoal, about 1/4 mile east of the ferry route.
At 11:41 AM the captain of the Wenatchee called to report a large pod of orcas, 12+, headed south off Eagle Harbor.
At 11:40 Adrian of Western Towboats reported two orcas NW of Alki Pt., headed toward West Pt.
A large pod of Orcas has been spotted heading south from near Bainbridge and is now in between Vashon Island and West Seattle near the ferry lanes. That was about 10:50 am today. Just went down to Point Robinson on Vashon. Heard that they turned around and headed back North after West Seattle. I guess I missed them this time.
At 10:43 the captain of the Ferry Issaquah called to say orcas were milling near the Fauntleroy dock.
Brandy Chapin emailed: My husband is on the 10:20am Faunt/Southworth ferry. The captain announced and he saw a pod of orcas. There appeared to be at least 5 different whales. They were remaining somewhat SW of Alki Point and traveling in an easterly direction originally and are now in a NW direction. They appear very active and look to be feeding. The one male was off from the other four (females), who were almost in a line. The male appeared to be herding salmon down to the others.
A co-worker coming in to Seattle from Bainbridge said she saw a few killer whales from the ferry. Also, I just received a similar report via e-mail (below).
Whale Sighting This Morning 09:45
The owner of Mason Marine (Steve Mason) is out in the Sound this morning and sighted about 4 whales just south of West Seattle and East of Blake Island.
We had at least 3 Orca (sub-adult?) traveling southwest off of Alki Beach at ca 0945 this morning. No big males, and the animals were loosely dispersed.
At 9:30 Jeff Hogan had found J1 (Ruffles), J27 (Blackberry), J2 (Granny), J8 (Speiden) and J30 (Riptide), from Alki Pt.
At 9:09 the captiain of the Ferry Kalama called to report 8-10 orcas at the mouth of Elliot Bay, headed south
At 9:00 AM the captain of the Ferry Hyak called to report a pod of orcas off Alki Pt., headed north.
At 8:15 AM the captain of the Ferry Tacoma, on the Seattle-Bainbridge run called to report about six orcas between Alki Pt. and Eagle Harbor, headed south.
December 1, 2008
I just returned (14:00) from a four hour encounter with J's, K's and L87 in Haro Strait, heading SE spread out and foraging from Hannah Heights to Eagle Point in tide rips.
Center for Whale Research
Jeanne Hyde reported calls on OrcaSound hydrophones at 8:36 AM and faint call on Lime Kiln phones at 8:42.
Wonderful strong Orca vocals at present time on OrcaSound 8:57am!
After very soft calls on the Lime Kiln hydrophones starting at 5:30 am, they are very clear at 6:00 am, Pacific time. 6:05 am, Orcasound now picking up the clear vocals.
Suzy Roebling, Key Largo, Florida
Back to sightings archives