Orca Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats.
Up Close and Personal: Three days with Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut/Tokitae/Lolita.
Meet Katie Watkins, Assistant Manager for Orca Network's Langley Whale Center! Katie talks about the changes for us all during the COVID 19 pandemic, and how we can stay in touch to carry on our educational services in these changing times.
She shares some great ideas for families and whale lovers wanting to stay involved with the whales, the Whale Center, and Orca Network ~ thanks Katie!
The Langley Whale Center virtual tour.
Orca Network's Orca Month Webinar Series - Orcas Inspire Us - June 1, 2020
Our first in a series of webinars celebrating Orca Action Month through the month of June. Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research tells the history of Orca Survey from the 1970s to present, the role of males in orca matrilines, the pressing need to restore native salmon habitat, including Snake River dam removal, and who he would most like to talk to about it. Howard Garrett describes the main obstacles to retiring Tokitae and Susan Berta from Orca Network discussed the history and inspiration of Orca Month. The webinar includes questions to the panelists. Video link
June 8 – Our Orcas Live in Toxic Waters
Orca Network's second in a series of webinars as part of Orca Action Month 2020 took place June 8 to discuss contaminants in Southern Resident orcas and how we can all do our part to reduce toxic pollution. Participants are Teresa Lawson - NOAA, Alyssa Barton - Puget Soundkeeper, Nancy Uding - Toxic Free Future, and Mindy Roberts - Washington Environmental Council. The full webinar can be seen HERE
June 15 – Our Orcas Live in Noisy Waters
Orca Network's third in a series of webinars as part of Orca Action Month 2020 took place June 15 to discuss shipping traffic and underwater noise disturbance with Scott Veirs from OrcaSound and Rick Huey and Adrienne Stutes from Washington State Ferries. The full webinar can be seen HERE
June 22nd – Our Orcas are Hungry
Orca Network's fourth webinar as part of Orca Action Month 2020 was June 22, about the intertwined fates of Southern Resident orcas and salmon. The full webinar can be seen HERE
June 29th – Spyhoppy Hour -
Join us for a fun informal get together to celebrate the Southern Resident orcas. Bring your beverage of choice, watch some Southern Resident orca videos and share your favorite orca photos and stories. We'll even have a virtual silent auction with fun whale items!
Live on or near the waterfront? We need your whale reports/photos! Learn more, including how to report your sightings from KOMO's Researchers seek help from waterfront residents for whale sightings
. To sign up for Orca Network's regular compilation of whale sightings reports, please go to Sign up for Sightings Reports
. More about whale sighting under the Sightings tab above.
2020 Orca Network Ways of Whales Workshop
To thank you for your support, volunteer time, whale sightings, and being a part of Orca Network, here is a short video produced by John Gussman to help us all take a look back at the year.
Orca Network Video
Very sad to report the loss of L41 Mega, as reported by the Center for Whale Research from an encounter with several matrilines of L pod in Haro Strait on January 24th, 2020.
L41 is missing and presumed to have died sometime since the last time he was photographed on August 11 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
L41 was the oldest Southern Resident male at 42 years old, born in 1977, the year after field studies on Southern Resident orcas began in 1976. We will include a tribute with photos and more on L41 Mega in a future report. The Southern Resident Killer Whale population has dropped to 72 as of January, 2019.
Please see CWR's report
for more information and photos
On August 24, the South Whidbey Record published an article about the three most recent orca mortalities, J17, K25, and L84: Hope dwindles as resident orcas disappear
That prompted a followup oped for The Record: Efforts rekindle hope for South Resident orcas
August 6, 2019 - Center for Whale Reserch Media Release:
The Southern Resident Killer Whale population has dropped to 73 as of July 1, 2019
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 Princess Angeline, K25 Scoter, and L84 Nyssa.
Dammed to Extinction is an informative, educational, and entertaining film.
This eye-opening documentary explores the burning controversy over how to restore the dammed Snake River, potentially the most productive salmon spawning watershed left in the world, and how we can help Southern Resident orcas find food and survive.
Four obsolete dams choke off access to thousands of miles of wilderness rivers and streams. Removing these unnecessary dams will save money, salmon and orcas.
Our Sacred Sea
Lummi Nation has been called to bring Lolita, a killer whale stolen from the Salish Sea in 1970, back home. Lolita, also called Tokitae, has been held at the Miami Seaquarium for the past 47 years. The Lummi word for killer whale is Qwe ‘lhol mechen which means “our relations below the waves.”. We consider blackfish to be our kin, and we consider families to be sacred. It is our duty to bring Tokitae home. Moreover, Tokitae is an ambassador for the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea is our sacred sea, and it is our obligation to help protect and restore the ecosystems, cultures, and communities of this place.
Find the latest news on the campaign and the rehabilitation and retirement plan to
return Tokitae/Lolita to her home waters.
Snake River wild chinook - so crucial for the survival of Southern Resident orcas - are in severe decline. The quickest way to bring back abundant runs is described in a new white paper on Columbia basin chinook, called The Case for Breaching the Four Lower Snake River Dams to Recover Wild Snake River Salmon.
Puget Sound Land-Based
Whale Sighting View Points
The Southern Resident orcas often forage in Puget Sound during fall months in search of chum salmon, and mammal-eating Transient orcas, or Bigg's Killer Whales, may visit in search of seals, sea lions and porpoises any time of year. To help observers find good locations to view the whales Orca Network has assembled the best viewing spots between Anacortes and Olympia into a google map that can be zoomed in to find directions to each beach, roadside, or bluff for optimum viewing. If you live near Puget Sound, Possession Sound, Saratoga Passage, Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, or Fidalgo Island, you can find the best whale-watching spots near you by clicking HERE.
The Langley Whale Center opened March 1, 2014.
Check out the Langley Whale Center Facebook page.
n extended clan of Orcinus orca
, or orcas, socialize and forage in the inland waters of Washington State and British Columbia. Both male and female offspring remain with their mothers their entire lives
. No other species, and not all orca communities, show lifetime association of mothers with both male and female offspring. Cultural traditions
such as lifetime family bonding allow distinct vocal repertoires and complex social systems to develop within each pod and community, unlike any other mammal except humans
. Their dialects are similar to human language groups, and assure them a place in their society. Known as the Southern Resident Orca community, or the Salish Sea Orcas, they move gracefully just downstream from an increasingly urban landscape.
Worldwide field studies are now showing that there are several dozen orca communities distributed throughout marine habitats, each with its own vocal repertoire, its own specialized diet, its own hunting methods and social systems, and each is genetically distinct from all the others. We are on the verge of recognition by the scientific community that orcas can be considered as nomadic foraging tribes, living according to traditions passed down generation after generation, for many thousands of years.
But all is not well. Orcas need clean, uncontaminated water and plentiful fish. Chinook salmon, the Salish Sea orcas' main food source, are in historic decline throughout the region. Habitat degradation, industrial poisons such as PCBs, PBDEs and other impacts of human activities are taking their toll on the orcas we have come to know and love. We are all intricately connected, from tiny plankton to forage fish, salmon, orcas, tall firs and cedars, mountains, rivers and the ocean. It is time to reflect, to reconnect, and to respond as better caretakers of our planet.
Looking for an informative and readable essay on the natural history of orcas?
Go to Orcas of the Salish Sea.