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Recent whale sightings in the Salish Sea

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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

October 7

SOUTHERN RESIDENTS - Mon Oct 7 - Strait of Juan de Fuca - 16-year-old J38 Cookie, with his beautiful distinguishing rounded dorsal, gliding the waters off Sooke. -Photo by Paul Pudwell, Oct 7, 2019

Mon Oct 7 - Strait of Juan de Fuca - With a call from one of our many marine friends that some Orca were off Sooke this morning we came across members of J Pod, J27 Blackberry and Seven-year-old J49 T'ilem I'nges, J38 Cookie once again feeding heavily but after a few minutes of looking at the first pictures we left the scene and notified the amazingly responsible members of the Pacific Whale Watching Association to continue our stewardship with cooperation with Transport Canada to ensure the best outcome for these special endangered Killer Whales! Somewhat bitter sweet...Paul Pudwell

Thu Oct 3 - Strait of Juan de Fuca - Word is some of the Southern Residents were eastbound off Sooke this afternoon - the question is, which way will they go? Could be a good night to tune into the Lime Kiln and/or Port Townsend hydrophones to try and find out! -Monika Wieland Shields

October 6

BIGG'S TRANSIENT KILLER WHALES - Sun Oct 6 - Strait of Juan de Fuca - From Georgia Strait we went all the way down to eastern Juan de Fuca Strait to be with the T18's and T37A's Bigg's orcas. The first sight on scene were the two big males in the T18's. These guys are GIANTS...The Bigg's were mostly traveling with little surface activity but there was a little lunging/porpoising...The orcas are 29-year old T19B (born 1995) who is the largest male orca I have ever seen with six-month old T37A5 (born spring 2019). Love when the big guys get babysitting duty...At about 5:45 PM we left the T18s and T37As at the south end of Eastern Bank angling toward Admiralty. Whidbey Island may want to keep an eye out. -Debbie Stewart

HUMPBACK WHALES - Sun Oct 6 - Straits of Georgia and Juand de Fuca - The first humpback we encountered in Georgia Strait (British Columbia) was BCZ0345 - Victoria. Further north in Georgia Strait we encountered BCZ0345 Victory, BCZ0345, BCX1358 - Frankenstein. "Frankie" was a complete hoot. He was doing some feeding behaviors using his entire body -- pecs, tail, etc. to spiral and twist to round up food. He was also trumpeting.
As we were ready to depart Frankie another humpback started approaching from the south. We stopped and waited just to see if the two animals would come together. Next thing we know... Frankie who was several hundred yards to the north of us and the animal who was approaching from several hundred yards to the south were together at our boat! We got mugged by TWO humpbacks. There was one on either side of us. It was absolutely incredible. Every time we thought they had tired of holding us captive and started to ease off, they were right there again. I've never experienced anything like it. The second humpback involved in the mugging was MMY0079 - Scratchy. I got one fluke shot of him and he was pooping! -Debbie Stewart

Sun Oct 6 - Puget Sound - 08:26 - Janine Harles called to report a humpback thought to be juvenile foraging around in the area off North Edmonds to Possession Bar (South Whidbey). Originally thought there was a 2nd but she could not confirm other than just the one.

October 5

Sat Oct 5 - Puget Sound - 18:40 - Humpback about a mile WNW of the Edmonds ferry terminal headed north. -Sherman Page

15:15 - Janine Harles called with two baleen whales to report, both in close proximity to one another in same general: the juvenile humpback (BCX0870's 2018 calf) is east of mid channel approx 1 mile north of the Edmonds ferry lanes. and who she thought was minke. While on the phone she could confirm it is in fact a minke foraging out there. Juvenile humpback BCX0870-calf 2018 between Edmonds and Possession this afternoon.

09:25 - The San Juan Clipper just spotted the juvenile humpback that has been hanging out in Puget Sound lately. It was east of Possession Pt at 9:25 trending north. -Lauren Ryan Booth

MINKE WHALES - Sat Oct 5 - Puget Sound - 15:15 - Janine Harles called with two baleen whales to report, both in close proximity to one another in same general: the juvenile humpback is east of mid channel approx 1 mile north of the Edmonds ferry lanes. and who she thought was minke. While on the phone she could confirm it is in fact a minke foraging out there. photos: So surprised we found a Minke Whale between Edmonds and Kingston this afternoon! Lost it soon after we found it, seemed to be heading towards Kingston from Edmonds...Janine Harles

2nd hand report - 10:20 - Neighbor says Minke is back, just north of Apple Tree Point close to shore. -Sara Frey

October 4

BALEEN WHALES - SPECIES UNCONFIRMED - Fri Oct 4th - Puget Sound - 21:46 - Grey whale (I think) at the bow of the Turner Joy in Bremerton... to dark to see for sure, but a single whale coming up several times for air. Pretty awesome! -Jason Jbone Swanson

Yesterday morning (Oct 4) at 7:45 am my husband and I saw a whale headed south in front of our home about 100 yards from shore. Location: between Redondo and Dash Point, just north of Dumas Bay, north of Tacoma. I am not sure what kind. Not orca for sure. I don't think it was humpback either. Through the binoculars it appeared to be a light grayish brown. More brown than gray. It spouted a few times and was traveling near the surface with just a small area above water so it is hard to judge its size. It seemed 30 feet or less but there could have been more beneath the surface. It blew 3 times swimming near the surface and then dove. No fluke appeared when it dove. It was down for a few minutes before appearing again. Repeat. Then gone. I tried to find a photo online of something that looked similar but no luck. Can you recommend a resource for photos that would help?
ADDITION: No dorsal fin was visible. I am certain of that. I realized I had t mentioned that after I sent and almost added it in a separate email. I would say it was probably a gray if not for the seemingly smaller size. Though as I said, I may have seen the tip of the iceberg. The coloring was modeled. I saw a gray here in March for sure that was only 200 feet from me and I could see the barnacles. It seemed much bigger than this one though. -Thanks, Barbara Nus

October 3

October 2

Wed Oct 2 - San Juan Island - Yesterday's newsletter was so wonderful, Alisa! Thanks to everyone who sent in observations and photos. Biggs Transients T18s, Haro Strait, SJI. (Many thanks to Orca Behavior Institute for confirming T19B's ID)
4 orca including 2 large males observed from shore, 1:25pm - 1:50pm, T18 - Hannah Heights - 13:30, T18 and T19C - Hannah Heights - 13:35 just north of Hannah Hts. Close in at first, the family was grouped together and making long dives. It looked like they were hunting/foraging for a few minutes before they left as a group moving away from the island to the west until out of sight. Close up - those fins - remarkable! -Michelline Halliday, SJI

13:20 - T18s just passed Land Bank southbound, still close to shore (couple hundred yards). I saw all 4. -Monika Wieland Shields

12:41 - T018s are just a few miles north of Lime Kiln Light close to shore. Should be there between 1:00 and 1:30. If they don't change direction. -April Ryan

Wow! What a day on Chilkat! We started the day with a seal and a lion's mane jellyfish in the Edmonds Marina, then we headed up to the San Juans! We stopped at Whale Rocks and spent some time with the Steller Sea Lions (pics to come), there were also a mated pair of eagles there and one took flight (flight sequence included). Then we stopped at Spieden Island where we saw some of the exotic animals on the island Mouflan Sheep, Fallow Deer and a Sika Deer! Around the corner we found the transient orcas T18 & T19s! On the way home we stopped near Lime Kiln lighthouse and played with some Dall's Porpoise! Great day on the water, thanks Captain Christopher!! -Janine Harles

10:17 - T18s taking Spieden Channel now.
09:55 - T18s - they're almost to Reuben Tarte. -Cindy Hansen,

9:30 - T18s heading north up San Juan Channel towards Reuben Tarte County Park, close to San Juan shoreline. -Monika Wieland Shields

Wed Oct 2 - Puget Sound - 17:00 - Humpback whale currently just north of Edmonds ferry (5:00 p.m.) Not traveling in any clear direction, not overly active, just hanging out. -Tom Rider

Wed Oct 2 - Puget Sound - Hi all, Pretty sure this is a Minke. It was off Apple Tree Point on 10/2/19 going northbound. It was close to the Kitsap side...maybe 200-300 yards off shore. Behavior was like the Humpbacks, up 5-6 times in a row and then a deep dive and down for 5-10 minutes. My neighbor said she saw it out in the channel last evening but didn't know what it was. -Sara Frey Photos by Sara Frey, Oct 2, 2019
(Both John Calambokidis & Frances Robertson confirmed minke.)

DALL'S PORPOISE - Wed Oct 2 - Haro Strait....On the way home we stopped near Lime Kiln lighthouse and played with some Dall's Porpoise! -Photos by Janine Harles, Oct 2, 2019

October 1

Tue Oct 1 - Strait of Juan de Fuca - With Island Adventures out of Port Angeles 10/1/2019. Calm seas, beautiful weather for the first day of Oct, this was a trip I will never forget. We got mugged by 2 humpbacks, Stitch and Aerie (CRC-15994 & MMY0106). Stitch then had to show off and blow bubbles. mimicking the noise of the generators exhaust. He was so funny! Renee our Naturalist first spotted the both of them, we were out a few miles north and east of Port Angeles. Capt Shane turned off the boat engines, we were well over the 100 yd minimum protocol. but these 2 humpbacks decided they were going to check us out, and did they ever. Stitch especially....and I think he took a liking to the young ones on board. I could see and just feel it. They were adorable with him, melt my heart, thats' for sure. I had only wished I had my smaller camera as they were so close, touching and under our boat. I did the best with the lens I had 55mm-300mm. sure didn't need to! i think Im still in disbelief. -Marilyn Armbruster

My daughter works for Outer Island Excursions and had an amazing encounter yesterday with a Humpback. I will confirm who and where it was and let you know. Here is a video of it. The Humpback video is of Stitch by Race Rocks by Victoria. -Alexandra Cannon took the video. -Holly Cannon

Tue Oct 1 - Puget Sound - 10:24 - BCX0870-calf 2018 heading south, east of mid channel straight out from Edmonds ferry dock. -Janine Harles

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