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December 4, 2013

We are watching and visiting the whales in their home~

Please observe, love and respect them from a distance.

Having trouble viewing this Sightings Report? Archived Reports can be found HERE.
It's been a crazy couple of days. Let's see, on Dec. 2 there were at least two groups of Transients, one heading south in Puget Sound from Bainbridge Island to Maury Island, and the other heading north in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass. Dec. 3 a group of Transients cruised around Budd Inlet and Totten Inlet, while members of J and K pods were seen in very choppy water heading south along the NE side of Vashon Island. Once again today observers saw some of J and K pods heading south from Edmonds to West Point while groups of Transients patrolled the waters near Tacoma and Anderson Island. Unfortunately we have very few positive IDs of individuals.

This afternoon's visit to Puget Sound by parts of J pod and K pod was recorded by Meg McDonald of Wild Northwest Beauty Photography from very close range as they swam and frolicked past the West Point Lighthouse. There's nothing like a pink-orange Puget Sound sunset behind a traveling pod of orcas.

Southern Resident Killer Whales: December Sunset Visit (HD)
Southern Resident Killer Whales: December Sunset Visit (HD)
Video by Meg McDonald, December 4, 2013

Reminder: Tomorrow night, December 5th at 6:30 see Lolita, Spirit in the Water at the Admiral Theater in West Seattle. Sunday December 8, from 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM see "Blackfish," at the Edmonds Theater.
Photo of the Day
Southern Residents in a resting line while a big container ship passes by.
Photo by Kelly Burns Keenan, December 3, 2013.

Southern Resident orcas
December 4
Roughly 4:00pm
- Multiple Orcas sightings (surfacing, dorsal fins, and blows) from Sunset Hill in the Ballard Neighborhood of Seattle. Pod was heading south down the Puget Sound. Estimating 10-20 Orcas.
Tyler Sporer

December 4

4:25 - two or 3 groups seem to be feeding and resting between mid channel bouy and big round bouy at north end of Shilshole Marina, milling n moving slow.
4:11 - still moving real slow by Shilshole.
3:56 - large group moving slow about few hundred out from Shilshole.
Susan Vennerholm

December 4
4:13 - They were indeed passing West Point about 8 minutes ago.
Kate Schmiett

December 4
3:33 - Just spotted them, way out mid channel south of Fay Bainbridge...heading south...small groups.
Sue Surowiec Larkin

December 4
3:20 - Got em! Mid channel across from Carkeek park. Big group. Males, females & juveniles. Traveling southbound then turned toward East shore. List them behind a tree for now but look from Carkeek, Golden Gardens (if you can get high up) or Sunset Hill park with binocs.
Jennifer Greiner Clark

December 4
3:07 - SRKWs are still southbound midchannel, now past Richmond Beach. About 20 I think.
2:32 - They're steaming steadily south past Richmond Beach!
2:18 - Meg McDonald reports "a lot" of blows off Apple Tree Cove (Kingston), headed south, into Puget Sound.
Meg McDonald

December 3
1:07 - Just left 8 Orcas that seem to be feeding at Point Robinson Vashon. They are still there.
Kelly Burns Keenan
Here is one of the Orcas that visited Point Robinson today. With the help of Melissa Pinnow this is K25-Scooter 22 year old male.
Photo by Kelly Burns Keenan, December 3, 2013.
Here's another look at K pod at Point Robinson today...this is Scoter K25 surfing through the icy waves and wind.
Photo by Meg McDonald, Wild Northwest Beauty Photography, December 3, 2013.
This is J37 Hy'Shqa at Point Robinson today, according to Melisa Pinnow. So we had part of J pod with K pod in Puget Sound today, even if we couldn't see them all while they were spread out in the huge waves whipped by ferociously icy winds!
Photo by Meg McDonald, Wild Northwest Beauty Photography, December 3, 2013.

December 3
12:06 - just found em. Steaming towards Point Robinson.
Amy Carey

December 3
10:33 - Maia of WA State Ferries called to relay a report from a ferry of a pod of orcas seen from the north end of Vashon Island, heading south down the east side of Vashon. The number could not be estimated due to wind and waves.

 J and K pods in San Juan Channel.
Photo by Jamie Grundhauser, November 30, 2013.
 J and K pods in San Juan Channel.
Photo by Jamie Grundhauser, November 30, 2013.

Transients (Bigg's whales)
December 4
This sighting today at noon is between Anderson Island and Ketron Island. Friends of ours were bringing their boat back to Anderson Island from Tacoma today around noon and they were surrounded by two pods of Killer Whales that approached their boat on the East Side of Anderson Island in an area that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has designated as a Dump Site for Dredged materials from the an area in the Port of Olympia. The Dumping of (20) Barge Loads or 20 Million Pounds of dredged materials is scheduled to commence this week in the area the Killer Whales were sighted in today. This is an area where three or more Dall's Porpoises are seen the year round. Killer Whales feed on Squid and other marine life and the squid are abundant in this area.
Photo by Larry and Martin Schuler, December 4, 2013.

Photo by Larry and Martin Schuler, December 4, 2013.
The pictures were taken by Larry and Martin Schuler of Anderson Island who live above the area where the two pods of Killer Whales were seen. The whales also swam close to another boat fishing in the area.  Apparently they came right towards the boats and two pods circled and dove beneath the boats. I understand they counted around (7) Killer Whales today including two small ones with their mothers. I'm up-loading the video that will be posted on the Anderson Islanders Facebook site later this evening very slow process.  Also may be on the 10:00 PM Chan 13 News this evening.
Bob Lyden, Anderson Island.

December 4
3:38 -
I saw the Orcas between Salmon Beach & the point of Point Defiance, milling about for a bit, looked pretty close to shore (I was watching from Gig Harbor). When I was leaving 10 minutes ago, they had reached the point and appeared to be headed towards Vashon.
Heidi Powers Armstrong

December 4
2:46 - We see 6 (one small one) Orcas just off Salmon Beach, Tacoma.
Kathy Wilson

December 3
At 2:00pm on Tuesday, we watched four orcas, including a small one, pass our home on Totten Inlet, moving up the bay slowly from north to south, into the inlet. We followed them with binoculars, lots of rolling and spouting, glistening in bright sunlight against a blue sky. We are guessing residents, because they left feeding debris for a large flock of seagulls to clean up. Spectacular.
Dee Morton
About half way down Totten Inlet, from the Thurston County side, immediately opposite the entrance to Little Skookum Inlet (Mason County).
Photo by Anders Price, December 3, 2013.

December 3
3 pm - about half way down Totten Inlet (far south Puget Sound). I don't know of any orca sightings this far down Totten Inlet. I have heard of sightings from Steamboat Island, five miles to the north. The water is only about 40 feet deep.
Anders Price

December 3
1:30 - Just saw 3 Orca moving at a high rate of speed, heading north, north of Olympia and South of Hunter Pt., on the east side of the Inlet. They looked to be female, judging from the size of the fins. Their may have been a juvenile with them. They were zooming along, crashing through the waves.
keller galvin

December 3
1:10 - We saw (3) Orcas heading north on the West Side of Budd Inlet. We were on the East Shore @ Burfoot Park. YEAH! Cheers!
Keith Edgerton

December 3
Observed 4 orca in Budd Inlet this morning at about 11:30, moving north from Priest Point Park toward Olympia Shoal, feeding at they went. One juvenile in the group.
By 11:45 I had lost sight. Using 20x spotting scope.
Mike Woodall

December 3
11:44 - They are way into Budd Inlet, on west side toward country club.
Gayle Swigart

December 3
10:48 - There are at least 6 orcas (hard to tell to wind and waves) currently in Budd Inlet - still heading south.
10:40 a.m. - The orcas I reported a few minutes ago are still heading south - past Boston Harbor and into Budd Inlet. Can't get a confirmed head count.....maybe 6.
10:16 - Whales! South of Dana Passage heading south! Large blows. Fins. Breaching.
Kim Merriman

December 2
Saw about 10 - 12 orcas swimming east in Boundary Pass today, between Waldron and Saturna Islands. They were swimming in 2 fairly close groups. First group was very close together with a little one swimming between mature orcas. Second group was spread out with breaching and tail slapping.
Maureen Welton

December 2
Large group of Transients (8-9) northbound past Turn Point towards Pender Island (15:30pm).
John Boyd

December 2
We had two large groups of T's in the afternoon in Haro Strait.  I came across the first group mid strait between Henry and Sidney Island moving quickly north west. The other group was shadowing them within a couple of miles to the north east.
There was also a single humpback whale they passed which I last saw south bound at Kelp Reef. Great way to start December!
Mark Malleson, Prince of Whales

December 2
My T's today were T35, 38's, 49's, 75B and C.
Ken Balcomb

December 2
4:12 - they were headed south along Anderson island. a big boat went passed and I haven't seen them since.
3:54 - I'm at chambers bay and can see them breathing in between Anderson island and McNeil
Alex Fazekas-Boone

Here are three of the five killer whales who passed Point Robinson on Maury Island today. These fast-moving orcas dove deep as they approached the point, and they didn't resurface until they were about a mile past us, so this is the best photo angle they gave us!
Photo by Meg McDonald, Wild Northwest Beauty Photography, December 2, 2013.

Here's a better look at the baby orca in the fast-moving group of five killer whales who passed Point Robinson today. Everyone loves a chubby, healthy baby killer whale!
Photo by Meg McDonald, Wild Northwest Beauty Photography, December 2, 2013.

December 2
That was so fun! Glad I finally caught up with them, been chasing them all summer & fall! I started at Point Defiance & they were already past Titlow by the time I got there. They were really moving. I went to Sunset Beach Dr. next.. Where I finally caught up with them & saw them feed for a bit. They attracted a large group of Gulls & an Eagle to help them eat. This is the only time I actually saw them, not just their breath, today. Got a few good dives & some tail slapping. Then they were off again to McNeil/Anderson.. & like Alex I watched them head around the corner towards Longbranch. Maybe they will still be here in the morning! Think I got a shot or 2 with my Telephoto at Chambers.. With the Olympics in the background. Ill post if any turn out!
Melissa Bird

December 2
1:40 PM - orcas heading south at Salmon Beach, Tacoma Narrows.

December 2
1:35 - They regrouped and are headed south down Tacoma narrows. They are just north of salmon beach now, very close to shore. I'm watching them from gig harbor side
1:24 - They're a little more spread out now and seem to be swimming in a circular pattern between Vashon and pt defiance. Tail flips, spy hopping. Glorious! Sorry I'm not close enough to get a pic!
1:16 - Between pt defiance and Vashon back and forth
1:15 - now southerly.
1:14 - Just surfaced. They are northerly in the Vashon ferry lane.
1:08 - Just northwest of the Crane/tug heading northerly and possibly westerly.
Sarah Jones Whalen

December 2
12:38 - Westbound along south end of Maury Is.
Jason Cook

December 2
12:50 - could see their blows between mid channel yellow buoy and Pt Defiance ferry heading southwesterly (so west) will be interesting to see which way they turn once they reach Pt Defiance. I go home now. Been a beautiful day.
Noon update - turned back to more southerly direction, again more towards Dash/Brown's Point as Amy said earlier.
11:45 - I moved south...they appear to be headed more westerly now with sun shimmering on their backs and dorsals.
11:30 - they've resumed heading south, about 1/2 mile out.
11:25 - they dove underwater past Pt Robinson and resurfaced near buoy to south. Alot of surface activity, maybe on a kill? I am watching from bluff above Des Moines marina.
Alisa Lemire Brooks

December 2
11:40 - I can see them with binoculars from Ruston Way in Tacoma just SE of Maury.
Jason Cook

December 2
11:33 - Still headed south towards dash point and Brown's point.
Amy Carey

December 2
11:27 - KWs just passed Pt. Robinson, unfortunately underwater. Almost certainly transients, have a baby too. A few pix to come but no saddle patches due to angle of approach.
10:29 - 5 KWs just passed Dilworth on east side of channel. Look like possible transient fins. Still southbound.
Meg McDonald

December 2
9:41 - Maia of the WA State Ferries reports about five orcas south of the Vashon ferry dock, heading south down the east side of Vashon Island.

December 2
Lucky commuters on the 7:55 Bainbridge Ferry watching a pod of orcas headed south this morning! Take a break, bundle up and get on out. It's a gorgeous morning! Photo by my husband Ken Bennett.
Susan Marie Andersson
My husband just sent this from the 7:55 Bainbridge boat to Seattle!
No details yet. He's too busy watching whales. :)
Photo by Ken Bennett, December 2, 2013.

December 2
FYI.... my husband takes the 7:55 ferry from BI and just texted that they announced there were Orcas near the boat on his way out... near Rockaway Beach... He said he did not see them but thought i would give you guys a heads up... just in case!
Cindy Russell

December 2
The folks on the Bainbridge ferry just caught a glimpse of 4 or 5 orcas near the island, on the south side of the boat, offshore between eagle harbor and blakely harbor. It's the 7:55 Seattle to Bainbridge ferry.
Katey Rissi
Humpback whales
December 4
Marie Waterman of WA State Ferries called at 3:30 pm to relay a report from the Captain of the Ferry Chelan, of a single humpback whale SE of Turn Island, milling about, likely feeding.

December 2
The Humpback Whale is still 10 minutes from our dock in Saanich Inlet. She has been in the same area for the past 3 weeks.
Simon Pidcock
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Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network involves citizens in helping researchers track the movement of whales, and encourages people to observe whales from their homes, businesses, ferries, and beaches.
Whale reports are sent in to our Sighting Network and emailed out to researchers, agencies, and citizens on our network, and posted on our website (MAP of sightings also on website). Whale reports and observations are sent in by a variety of sources, and Orca Network does not guarantee the accuracy of any report or whale identification.


TO REPORT WHALES, CALL: 1-866-ORCANET (1-866-672-2638), email, or post sightings on our Orca Network Facebook page.



 "The new rules prohibit vessels from approaching any killer whale closer than 200 yards and forbid vessels from intercepting a whale or positioning the vessel in its path. This doubles the current approach distance of 100 yards. The rules go into effect May 16 and apply to all types of boats, including motor boats, sail boats and kayaks, in Washington"


For more information on the new Federal Regulations, visit the NOAA Fisheries website


To report harassment of whales in US waters
, call NOAA Enforcement: 1-800-853-1964;

In Canadian waters, call DFO's Observe Record and Report (ORR) Violations Hotline: 1-800- 465-4336

Report the boat name &/or a description of the boat, & get photos if at all possible.