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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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To find viewpoints along shorelines from Deception Pass to Olympia, go to:
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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 8

SOUTHERN RESIDENTS - Oct 8 - J-Pod was reported westbound in Strait of Juan de Fuca this afternoon. -Monika Wieland Shields

HUMPBACK WHALES - Oct 8 - Fall is in the air but the dozen humpback whales around Race Rocks Lighthouse are sure enjoying the abundance of available bait fish. Today we witnessed a bunch of Sea Lions interacting with a couple humpbacks that seemed annoyed and tail lobbed and pectoral fin slapped them away for over a half hour. Humpback BCY0745, Humpback MMX0173. off Race Rocks. -Paul Pudwell
(ID by Alethea Leddy)

GRAY WHALES - Oct 8 - 17:47 - Eastbound at Arcadia Point...
15:30 - Gray whale at Walker Park westbound. (Hammersley Inlet, Puget Sound). -Pamela Burger

October 7

18:15 - leaving Js north of Sucia, spread and playful, pointed at Rosario. The J17s off the Patos Island Lighthouse this evening. J47 Notch doing a sideways is for them that we solider on.
14:00 - Js southbound Strait of Georgia. -Monika Wieland Shields

BIGG'S TRANSIENT KILLER WHALES - Oct 7 - 14:00 - T49As heading west along the north side of Waldron. -Monika Wieland Shields

Trip report - on our last scheduled whale watch trip for 2018, we set off under rainy skies through the San Juan Islands towards Spieden Island, where whales had been spotted! We found the T49As again, a family of 5 whales (mom and 4 kids) and had great views of them, between a few rain drops, but also enjoying beautifully calm seas. We left the whales trending towards Waldron Island, and we continued to Sucia Island to see Steller sea lions and harbor seals. Several bald eagles were spotted, and when almost back to port, lots of harbor porpoise. An ice-cream for all passengers rounded out the end of a wonderful 2018 season!! Thanks you Mystic Sea!! -Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.

Oct 6 (into Oct 7) - Transient calls lasted until a 1/2 hour after midnight. Since the T49As and the T65As had been in the area and some of them had evidently split into different groups, going different directions (during daylight), I wonder if they were getting back together in the dark of night. And maybe it was someone else completely!
22:29 - They are still in acoustic range...just heard them again.
20:23 faint T calls on Lime Kiln hydrophones. -Jeanne Hyde

Oct 7 - 16:34 - Humpback next to Wasp Passage in San Juan Channel. -Jim Gizzi

15:40 Humpback north end of San Juan Channel heading south. -Monika Wieland Shields

MINKE WHALES - Oct 7 - ~15:30 - Minke whale spotted in Bellingham Bay. -Mari Blakeslee Hauser

DALL'S PORPOISE, ELEPHANT SEALS, & BROWN PELICAN - Oct 5-7 - Ahoy Orca Network, we are just back from a trip to the South Sound and had some great and rare sightings. Over a dozen Dalls porpoise just north of Vashon I. and two Dalls porpoises off Robinson Pt. Three separate elephant seal sightings including one near Elliot Bay and even a brown pelican in Commencement Bay. Thanks for all you do! More from Kevin Campion: Sadly no photos but 100% certain of the Dall's id. We saw a small group Friday the 5th at Robinson point and then over a dozen yesterday the 7th just north of Vashon. Loads of harbor porpoise as well on Sat. and Sunday south of Tacoma Narrows. We were surprised by the Dall's as well it has been since 2014 since I have seen any down in Puget Sound. Fall is always a cool time on the water! -Kevin Campion & crew, S/V Orion, Deep Green Wilderness

October 6

Oct 6 - 15:12 - Sarah Schmidt and her COAST seabird survey team reported seeing a minke whale at 3:12 pm between Sunset Beach (N. Whidbey Island/West Beach & Swantown) and Minor Island. They determined it was a minke based on the head/spout and curved dorsal fin.

15:00 - Transient Orcas - Turn Point, Stuart Island. -Photo by Jackie Cowan, Oct 6, 2018
(T65A2 & T49A1)

Trip Report: Another splendid, sunny day aboard Mystic Sea! After we cleared Guemas Channel, we headed north through the San Juan Islands, and happily caught up with the T49As and T65As (Transient aka Bigg's orcas) at the north end of San Juan Island. One group was fairly spread out, trending northwest and we stayed with them for awhile. We then visited with the second group, near Waldron Island. This group of four, 2 large males and two smaller ones, split to go around Battleship Island, then turned north in the sparkling sunshine. The T49A group are T49A (matriarch, born 1986), son T46A1 (born 2001), T49A2 (born 2007), son T49A3 (born 2011), and T49A4 (born 2014). The T65A group (who we have been lucky to see a lot this season) are T65A (matriarch, born 1986), son T65A2 (born 2004), son T65A3 (born 2007), daughter T65A4 (born 2011), T65A5 (born 2014), and calf T65A5 (born April 2018). We then checked out the exotic deer and sheep on Spieden Island, and made our way back to Cap Sante marina. Such a privilege to see these magnificent orcas! It's been a wonderful season, with splendid weather (mostly!) and splendid whales. Thanks to Captains Monte and Eric and all the great crew members, and Amy Wood at the office, to all our wonderful passengers! -Bonnie Gretz, volunteer naturalist

Some have split off, but as of 17:40 some were northbound in Swanson!
15:30 - T49As and T65As now approaching Turn Point.
13:15 T49As and T65As passing San Juan County Park heading north. -Monika Wieland Shields

12:38 - Just south of land bank right now!
11:47 - Two orcas, mid haro by American camp heading north....From what I can see through my camera , at least one appears to be a male...They are probably 3/4 of a mile off shore if I had to guess, Traveling north. I am at American camp. -Alissa Elderkin

COASTAL KILLER WHALES - Oct 6 - Approx. midday, Saturday 6th October 2018 I was on a Pelagic Birding trip out of Westport to Grays Canyon approx 35 miles out. We came across a large flock of seabirds that was picking up the scraps from a pod of Orcas. At least 5 in size. Mostly young and females. There may have been a young Male. Photographs were taken and if you check with Phil or Chris Anderson they may know the individuals you can contact to get the pictures. We had to have been amongst them for an hour at least. They were aggressively hunting and feeding. The Capt Phil says they rarely encounter Orcas on their trips and maybe once a season only do they see any. -Mark Girling

October 5

Trip report - on this rainy day we headed west via the San Juan Islands, with no reports of whales at all, scanning for those familiar dorsal fins - and on a hunch Capt Eric headed towards East Point but before arriving there, we heard "WHALES!" on the radio. The T49A family was found heading towards Flat-top Island, Gull Rock and onwards to Spieden Island. Then came the T65A group and the two groups joined up on the north side of Spieden. What a treat to see these Biggs/Transient whale families - great viewing even with light rain falling. A fun day - well done Mystic Sea! -Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist

Oct 5 - 10:44 - BCX1210 "Slate" feeding with another humpback on Possession Bank. -Renee Beitzel

October 4

Big handsome guy T49A1 flying high around the San Juans. -Photo by Gary Sutton, Oct 4, 2018

Oct 4 - T49As & T65As - Awesome day with the T049A's and T065A's today! T049A1 was all jazzed up when T065A2 made a kill about a mile ahead. T049A5 and T065A6 were full of beans too. Thanks for the find Paul! (off Orcas Island). -Gary Sutton

Oct 4 - T123s - While working in the CWR office, we heard reports over the radio of the T123s with a new calf heading northwest up Haro Strait....See images and full report at Center for Whale Research Encounter 87.

16:23 - (T123s) Moved offshore and are pointed West. 15:17 - (T123s) Pile Point, San Juan Island, northbound. -Pete Ancich

11:55 - T123s have a new calf and are in Strait of Juan de Fuca pointed toward Hein Bank. -Andrew Hapster

T123A spyhops after a successful harbour porpoise kill on the morning of October 4th south east of Race Rocks. -Photo by Mark Malleson, 2018

October 3

Moonlighting with Jpod- OCT 3, 2018 - Listen to the exhalations of silohuette J pod & L87 while eastbound in Active Pass at sunset. -Video by Rachelle Hayden, Oct 3, 2018

10:25 - 10:56 - tuned into Lime Kiln to listen to residents who are northbound off the west side of San Juan Island. S1s, S37s. By 10:55 ship noise...calls waning. (OrcaSound hydrophone offline). -Alisa

10:20 - Orcas at Land Bank, San Juan Island traveling north. -Pat McEvoy

Oct 3 - T123s - October is the new September for amazing encounters! Today with 12+ feeding humpback whales, hunting Transient Killer Whales (T123's identified by Selena Rhodes Scofield), hundreds of porpoise, Seals, Sea Lions, a Sea Otter and Eagles all all around Sooke! -Paul Pudwell

Oct 3 - T49As & T65As - 14:17 - They turned to deeper water now.
14:05- Pod of Orcas at Admiralty inlet heading North toward Ebey's Landing, near the Whidbey shore. -David Broberg

~10:50 - Two Orca heading north about 1/2 mile west of Lagoon Point on Whidbey Island. Today, about 10:50 AM. -Lachlan Pope

10:10 - Garry Heinrich reported seeing three orcas, heading north at the Bush Pt. wharf.

~ 10:00 - Orcas in Admiralty Inlet, close inshore Whidbey Island heading north. Two of them at the boathouse and lighthouse. Saw them in between Bush Point and Lagoon Point. Lost them after that. T65A2 swims close to shore off Whidbey. T49A1 passes close by too...-Dawn Ritter
(ID by Alisa Lemire Brooks, ON)

09:28 - first seeing two orcas northbound off Bush Point, then a third, right off the point, close in! -Jan Bell

Oct 4 - 20:35 -Humpback CS631/CRC16017 "Twp Spot" on his side. This guy/gal has been hanging around out front between Point Jefferson and President Point K ingston for the last few hours.....and right now at 8:35PM I can still hear it spouting. -Chris Beamer Otterson
(ID by Alisa Lemire Brooks, ON)

Oct 3 - Juan de Fuca Strait - October is the new September for amazing encounters! Today with 12+ feeding humpback whales, Humpback "Tulip" - Sooke, BC hunting Transient Killer Whales (T123's identified by Selena Rhodes Scofield), hundreds of porpoise, Seals, Sea Lions, a Sea Otter and Eagles all all around Sooke! -Paul Pudwell (ID by Alethea Leddy)

Oct 3 - Puget Sound 08:47 - it (or they) slowly trending north. 08:15 - humpback off Apple Tree Point Kingston, north of the ferry on the Kitsap side of the shipping channel. Milling about. (edited with thinks 2 whales and long down times) Sara Frey - 8:00 a.m - Trevor Tillman reports two humpbacks first seen just off the Kingston ferry terminal to the north...Northbound pretty steady. Already past the point (Apple Tree).

October 2

5 Orcas Off Shore of Perego's Lagoon: Hello, On Oct. 2nd, at about 11:50 am, we spotted 5 orcas while we were hiking the bluff above Perego's Lagoon just north of Ebey's Landing on the west side of Whidbey Island. They were close enough to shore to see with the naked eye from the high bluff, but far enough out that we needed to use our binoculars to see their markings well. They were heading south. One looked to be smaller than the others, but we are inexperienced whale spotters, so we're not sure if we judged size correctly. Thank you for the work you do. -Maria Mitchell

October 1

BIGG'S TRANSIENT KILLER WHALES - A rare treat today. About 4 or 5 in Guemes channel (Rosario Strait). They went into Cook's Cove and then around the SE end of the island. -Sally Peyou.
(Identified as the T65As by Sara Hysong-Shimazu)

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