Orcas…no, not in Lake Union…but close!

I remember the first time I saw a whale.  I was 6 or 7 and was fishing with my dad and cousin off of Guemes Island.  It felt as magical then as it does now.  I know this doesn’t have anything directly to do with Lake Union but felt that we’re all water people around the lake so I hope you will read this and pass it on to fellow friends and boaters that may be in the Sound right now.  Or perhaps it will give you an excuse to visit Golden Gardens or Alki today!  Check out their website and Facebook and Twitter pages as well!

Susan Berta and Howard Garrett from Orca Network sent out this announcement:

After spending most of the summer in the San Juan Islands, our Resident orca pods have just begun venturing south into inland waters for the fall and early winter months, traveling down Admiralty Inlet chasing blackmouth and chum salmon runs into lower Puget Sound. Orca Network observed J and K pod members in Admiralty Inlet on Sept. 29 and 30, and the pods were sighted off Seattle on Oct. 1st.

Their arrival is especially timely this year, as Orca Network and Whidbey Watershed Stewards prepare to celebrate the first “Orca/Salmon Month” in Island County with an official proclamation being read by the County Commissioners Monday, Oct. 4th, and “FinFest,” a day long celebration co-sponsored by Orca Nework and Whidbey Watershed Stewards being held at Freeland Hall Saturday, Oct. 9th.

The celebration begins at noon with family activities and education about orcas and salmon, and the evening includes presentations on salmon by UW professor David Montgomery, author of “King of Fish,” and Brad Hanson of NOAA Fisheries discussing the latest research on the importance of salmon for the survival of Southern Resident orcas. A salmon barbecue dinner by Dave Anderson, live music, a silent auction and more will wrap up the event. More information can be found at www.orcanetwork.org/news/events.html and www.whidbeywatersheds.org , or by contacting us at info@orcanetwork.org or info@whidbeywatersheds.org.

Since the Federal listing of the Southern Resident Orcas under the Endangered Species Act, Orca Network has been assisting NOAA Fisheries, the Center for Whale Research and the Whale Museum in conducting research to track the winter travels of the Southern Residents both in Puget Sound and along the coast. Through our Whale Sighting Network’s toll free number (1-866-ORCANET), whale sightings are collected and shared with researchers, agencies, and the public through our website (www.orcanetwork.org) and Whale Sighting Email list. Whale sightings from the public provide critical information about the travels of the whales, and timely reports enable Orca Network to alert researchers who can then obtain photo identification, prey and fecal samples from the whales during their visits into Puget Sound.

You can help by calling in any whale sighting immediately, so research boats can be deployed and land observers can get out to track and photograph the whales while they are in the study area and/or Puget Sound.  Whale reports may be called in to our toll-free number: 1-866-ORCANET, or you may email reports to info@orcanetwork.org.

Please provide us with the species, location, time, direction of travel, approximate number of whales, and if there are any adult males (with large five – six foot dorsal fins). Also include any behaviors you may observe (breaching, spy-hops, feeding, etc). If you are able to obtain photographs, please send those to the email address above.

This time of year offers wonderful opportunities to observe the orcas from the many miles of shoreline on Whidbey Island, the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas, and the inland waters of Puget Sound. Orca Network encourages shore-based whale watching, or watching for whales while commuting on Washington State Ferries. We offer a website, email list and Facebook and Twitter pages of recent whale sightings to increase opportunities for seeing the whales – it always helps to know when they are in the neighborhood! The Whale Sighting Network and Orca Network website also provide up to date information on the latest research and issues related to orcas and their habitat.

If you would like to be on our Whale Sighting Network Email List to receive whale sighting information to improve your chances of observing whales off our shorelines, sign up on our website: www.orcanetwork.org. A map of recent whale sightings and reports as well as archived reports may also be found on our website “Sightings” page.

Thank you for your help in keeping track of our whale neighbors – we are very fortunate to live in a place where we can look out our windows and see those majestic black fins parting the waters!

Susan Berta and Howard Garrett
Orca Network

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