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Whale Sighting Report  

In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Photo of the Day
Southern Resident orcas
Transients/Bigg's whales
Coastal orcas
False killer whales
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Orca Network recommends:
The Lost Whale, by Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisolm  
An intensely personal story...but this person is a young orca.  

Lost Whale book...ver scaled  

 To learn more about orcas: 

Orcas in Our Midst, volume 3, by Howard Garrett

Orcas in Our Midst,

Vol. 3: Residents and Transients, How Did That Happen?

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to order YOUR copy!


The bestseller about orcas in captivity.

Death at SeaWorld, by David Kirby 


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orca Lolita/Tokitae,

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in 1970, somehow surviving in a small tank at the Miami Seaquarium ever since.

Tokitae looking up at us from her tank in Miami, FL in the late 1990s 

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January 20, 2014

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.
There were no visual sightings of resident orcas, and very few of transients, from January 9 to January 17. Then on the 17th J pod came down Admiralty Inlet, setting up the 18th as a major day for sightings, beginning off the east side of Vashon Island and continuing  south and back up the west side Vashon Island through Colvos Passage, then along Bainbridge Island and past Kingston as the sunlight dimmed. On Sunday the 19th the tagging data showed they had gone up Saratoga Passage as far as Penn Cove, then returned south and showed up the next morning in the Mukilteo ferry lane. From there they crossed under the south end of Whidbey Island and slowly made their way up Admiralty Inlet by day's end. Late today they dropped into Admiralty Inlet once again, heading south past Marrowstone Island as the sun set. Chances are they'll show up somewhere in Puget Sound tomorrow.

We also have some unusual reports, especially a well-described but not photographed occurrence of 30-35 false killer whales off Hansville January 15, a report of orcas preying on Thrasher sharks off Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, and a mysterious dark cetacean that breached off Golden Gardens Sunday.

There are still seats to join us for Ways of Whales 2014 on Whidbey Island! 

"Saving Iconic Pacific Northwest Species" 
Southern Resident Orcas and Salmon 
Saturday January 25, 2014  
9:30 AM to 4:30 PM

The 2014 Ways of Whales workshop will focus on endangered Southern Resident orcas, and the endangered salmon they depend upon for survival. The day will feature presentations by the region's top orca and salmon experts and advocates, with a panel discussion to wrap up the day. Our hope is to begin a dialogue that will lead to effective partnerships and actions to save these species so central to the ecosystems, identity and culture of the Pacific Northwest.

Presenter and panelists include:
Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research
Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries NW Region: Southern Resident Orca Recovery
Joseph Bogaard, Save our Wild Salmon
Brad Hanson, NOAA Fisheries NWFSC: Southern Resident orca diet research
Jim Lichatowich, author of Salmon, People and Place
Howard Garrett, Orca Network - Lolita and Blackfish updates
Orca - Salmon Video by Florian Graner, SeaLife Productions
Orca - Salmon Panel discussion

You can register for Ways of Whales HERE. Last chance to sign up for a lunch is Tuesday, January 21. 
Photo of the Day
22-year-old L87 Onyx trails behind 100+ year-old J2 Granny on their way past Point No Point. L87's mother, L32 Olympia, died in 2005. Orphaned males often die not long after the death of their mothers, but L87, at 13, instead left L pod (his only possible close relative was his older sister L22 Spirit, born about 1971) and joined up with K11 Georgia, and became a virtual member of K pod. In 2009 K11 died at approximately 77 years of age, and L87 migrated to the side of J8 Speiden until she disappeared in September 2013. L87 then joined up with J2 Granny, and has been her close companion ever since.
Photo by Connie Bickerton, January 19, 2014.

Southern Resident orcas
January 20
5:20 pm - found another group or two, including another male, looks like more than J pod out there. The leaders are about mid Marrowstone now, coming a little closer to mid channel, still heading south at a steady pace.
5 pm - we finally found them, off Ft Flagler, headed south closer to the Marrowstone side. At least 4 males, 15 - 20 orcas in two tight groups so far.

January 20 
I may be seeing your pod, on Marrowstone Point heading south. Looks like 7-10 adults and juveniles.
January 20
4:40-5 pm - I found them on the north end of Marrowstone - waaay over there in the haze, was lucky to spot them, but what a treat!
Jill Hein

January 20
4:15 - Nice! I saw them at Point Wilson. Sunshine and orcas... what a day!
Kippi Waters

January 20
4:11 - Chrissy McLean at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center sees a pod between PT and Keystone, heading south across the top of Admiralty Inlet. We're heading to Lagoon Point to get a count.

January 20
3:59 - Orcas headed south at admiralty inlet.
Wendel Raymond

January 19
11:22 pm - ORCAS Lime Kiln.
Jamie Grundhauser

January 19

2:30 - Just saw the orcas swimming by in Boundary Pass. Spread out, quite close to shore, swimming slow, breaches, tails slaps, one swam on his back for a few minutes slapping tail and pecs repeatedly. Two very little ones swimming very close together with 2 bulls watching over them. So great to see them in January.
Maureen Welton
Note: we don't have positive IDs for these, but the calls later that evening sounded like L pod calls to some listeners.

January 19
Saw 6 to 8 at Point No Point headed north before watching Seahawks win, not a bad day:)
Paul Hebert

Here's another group passing Point No Point late this morning. Not sure if anyone can ID from this picture?
Photo by Connie Bickerton, January 19, 2014.

January 19
10 am - We saw them pass the Possession Point bait company.
Terica Taylor

January 19
9:20 - Large Pod of orcas in Mukilteo ferry route spotted from ferry now!
Cindy Mowery Philistine

January 19
9:10 - Maia of WA State Ferries called to report about six orca heading south from the Mukilteo ferry lane.

January 18
5:30 - In the fading light I watched the whales heading north from the bluffs with fellow whale friends. Not a bad way to spend some time this evening and now back to work.
Sara Hysong-Shimazu

January 18
We had to leave them at 430 between Kingston and Jefferson Head.
Brad Hanson, NWFSC

January 18
4:54 - They are breaching out there!
4:25 - Seeing them from the bluff just north of Kingston Ferry Terminal looking south. Still heading north, seem the trending east. They were quite spread out.
Connie Bickerton

January 18
4:40 - I can still see them mid-channel between Carkeek park and the Kingston ferry terminal.
Kevin Green

January 18
4:25 - Straight out from Jefferson Beach Park. Closer to Kitsap side seems like.
Rachel Haight

January 18
4:07 - Very slow travel now, in a tight group, apparently resting.
3:45 - Watching them directly out from Richmond beach, NOAA with them. Closer to Kitsap side.
Pam Ren

January 18
3:48 - So excited just saw for the 1st time from Golden Gardens far away but still!!!
Lisa Meoli

January 18
4:12 - Still slowly headed north in resting pattern approaching Indianola area. I can't tell if they are mid channel or which side they are closer to. Two sail boats and NOAA are near them.
3:26 - They appear to be in the Bay Area of Shilshole.
3:17 - They are traveling tightly together now, appear to be in a resting phase traveling north still directly across from Suquamish.
3:04 - Seeing them now just passing north end of Bainbridge. I can see them from Suquamish with binoculars. NOAA is behind them. They are close together moving north.
Kim Funchess

January 18
3:35 pm - the pod is swimming north straight across near the east part of the Sound from the north end of Bainbridge Island.
Tim Cuddy

January 18
2:55 - Seeing spouts in distance -far south approaching Faye Bainbridge State park. They are still heading North.
2:45 - Seeing spouts in distance -far south approaching Faye Bainbridge State park . They are still heading North.
Katie Schmelzer

January 18
2:05 pm - Susan Marie Andersson had them at Skiff Point, mid-Bainbridge Island, closer to the Bainbridge side and heading north at a steady pace, doing a little bit of foraging but not much. The NOAA boat was behind the whales she saw.

January 18
1:32 - We saw them. They were heading across the eastern side heading north. 6 in the pod.
Shelley Evans

January 18
1:29 - seeing them from Rockaway road on east Bainbridge looking west towards downtown Seattle they're moving north still.
Alex Fazekas-Boone
This family was sighted heading north this afternoon between Eagle Harbor and Rolling Bay on Bainbridge Island.
Photo by Kari Wright, January 18, 2014.

January 18
1:25 pm - Pod of 7-8 orcas on Bainbridge Island ferry off Wing Pt heading N.
Kim Dougan
A tight group of J pod orcas heads north past Bainbridge Island.
Photo by Connie Bickerton, January 18, 2014.

January 18
3:06 - Line of sight from south of Fay Bainbridge approaching Shilshoal/Golden Gardens. Mid channel closer to Kitsap side.
2:51 - They are still well south of Fay Bainbridge closer to kitsap heading north. Look for NOAA boat.
1:14 - Almost middle of Elliot Bay, mid channel still heading north line of sight from Rockaway.
1:06 - Seeing them from Rockaway beach on Bainbridge almost due east.
Connie Bickerton

January 18
1:05pm - Current sighting reports has Jpod nearing south end of Bainbridge Island still trending north bound. NOAA research boat is with them.

January 18
 1:04 - 7-10 orcas, north of the Bremerton ferry heading north.
Nikki Elizabeth

January 18
1 pm - An update on J pod and L87 in Puget Sound today - it sounds like they were approaching Bainbridge Island, heading north.

January 18
12:59 - Bremerton ferry almost stopped, looks like NOAA just crossed in front of it..
Sue Surowiec Larkin

January 18
12:37 - Spotted on Bainbridge ferry. SOUTH side of boat. About mid channel looks to be probably close to Blake island.
Jill M Rotset

January 18
I watched them from 1230 -130pm from Alki until they got to far into the fog bank for me to see. They were near Eagle Harbor entrance when I gave up watching.
Carriann Alabastro

January 18
12:10 - Kitsap Orca Watch reported 12 minutes ago- "We are watching NOAA and J Pod? From South Beach on Bainbridge Island. They are about a mile off Blake moving slowly south and west."
Katie Schmelzer
Taken as they passed Southworth at 11:45.
Photo by Katie Schmelzer, Janaury 18, 2014.

January 18
10:31 - See blows Kitsap side south of Southworth ferry terminal.
10:49 - They are heading north towards Southworth, Kitsap side. Just barely see dorsal fins now! Woo Hoo!
Jill Clogston
J pod heading north past the Southworth ferry terminal.
Photo by Jill Clogston, January 18, 2014.

Heading north up Colvos Passage.
Photo by Kelly Burns Keenan, January 18, 2014.

Heading north up Colvos Passage.
Photo by Kelly Burns Keenan, January 18, 2014.

A little spyhop.
Photo by Kelly Burns Keenan, Janaury 18, 2014.

January 18
10:09 - Orcas at Buela Park Vashon.
Kelly Burns Keenan

Heading up Colvos Passage past Olalla.
Photo by Lori Sirovy, January 18, 2014.
J pod in Colvos Passage.
Photo by Lori Sirovy, January 18, 2014.

Heading up Colvos Passage past Olalla.
Photo by Lori Sirovy, January 18, 2014.

January 18
11:29 - Whales are northbound along the east shore of Blake Island. NOAA is still with them.
10:10 - Whales have passed Cove Walk in Vashon now, grouped and slowly northbound. If they were any closer to the Kitsap side they'd be walking up the beaches...but got distant video. Pretty sure it's Js.
Meg McDonald WildNorthwestBeautyPhotography
Southern Resident Killer Whales: J Pod at Vashon Island (HD)
Southern Resident Killer Whales: J Pod at Vashon Island (HD).
Video by Meg McDonald, January 18, 2014.
January 18
9:20 - Six Orcas sighted! Just saw six beautiful orcas swim past my house located between Al's Market and Prospect Point in Olalla. I've waited for this day since 2010! Good day to be alive!
Robin Headrick

January 18
9:19 - 3 orcas just passed by, Colvos passage Olalla heading north.
Donna DiGiacomo Green

January 18
09:15 - Pod of 8+ Orcas sighted at 9:15-9:22 this morning. Moving south to north along western Colvos passage in front of Olalla. Sighted from West Vashon, in the vicinity of the Olalla bridge.
David Campau

January 18
8:54 - Christy Robinson: They passed Point Richmond beach heading north in Colvos Passage.

January 18
8:30 am - about 12 killer whales came by my beach house going north - about 100 yrds out! Looked like at least 2 large males, several females (smaller with hooked dorsal) and one new born calf (had pink tinge on white patches). Several older calfs at their mothers sides.
Jim Webster
Note: NOAA researchers reported that they saw no new calves.

January 18
Past Ollalla around 9:10 Kitsap side northbound.
8:56 - Mid channel lisabuela in colvos. Just across from ollalla.
8:20 - OK, new sighting. Whales northbound near Spring beach headed into Colvos passage on Vashon.
Amy Carey

January 18
Orcas (presumably J pod & L87) moving north in Colvos Passage (west side of Vashon). 8:15 sighting report to Amy Carey has them at Spring Beach which is at the south end of the island.
Alisa Lemire Brooks

January 18
Amy Carey received a sightings report of orcas this morning seen about 7:00am near Gold Beach, which is off of Maury Island. No numbers or direction of travel provided.

January 17
J pod was in Admiralty Inlet this afternoon, heading south. Following a tip from the Center for Whale Research we watched them from Keystone at 2:30 to Bush Point about 4:30, all the while traveling steadily south in small groups. We were asked to delay the report since the original location was via satellite tag, and NOAA has requested that those reports be delayed until the end of the day. But now it can be told that J pod is probably well south of Point No Point, unless they went east into Possession Sound, or turned around. Hopefully we'll find out early tomorrow.
Howard Garrett

January 14 - Update on satellite tagged orca L87 (and likely J pod): The whales remained in the northern Strait of Georgia for two more days following our previous post on Jan 10 2014, before heading south through San Juan Channel into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. As of January 14 the whales were at the west entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Map by NOAA - NW Fisheries Science Center

January 10
11:00 am - Tony McGinnis called to say he's watching 3 orcas about a mile south of Myrtle Rock, in Malaspina Strait, BC (northern Gulf of Georgia-Sunshine Coast region of British Columbia)heading NW. He sees one male and two females.
Transients/Bigg's whales
January 20
We just found transient orcas 10 minutes from our dock (Cowichan Bay, BC). Awesome day on the water.
Simon Pidcock

January 15
9:09 am - We have orcas in the Sinclair Inlet (an arm of Puget Sound in Kitsap County near Bremerton) again -- 2 between Manette and Manchester, heading north/northeast. It was hard to see them this time because they were on the other side of the inlet, but I think this is the same pair I've seen before. It looks to me like a female and a baby. One dorsal is larger, both are curved on the back. When they're on this side of the inlet, they do a lot of diving because of the reef over here, there are a lot of big fish and sea lions, etc., on this side, and they all go there for the smaller fish around the reef. This time, they were just beneath the surface -- I think they may have been sleeping, because they weren't moving much. Usually after they stop by the reef, they move pretty quickly out of the inlet, toward the rest of the Sound; they don't hang around long. Today they stayed near the Manette side in the still water out of the shipping lane for at least half an hour in the same spot. Didn't get another chance to check before it got dark. They may still be there.
L Michelle Gardner

January 12
Captain Hobbes was with 2 groups of Transients at Pt. Caution, just north of Friday Harbor, at 3:27 pm. He said it looks like they may have just made a kill.
January 19
A large black shiny animal jumped out of the water at 4:40 pm from the south end of Golden Gardens park -near the boat entrance to Shilshole Marina- a breaching orca whale progressed up the beach heading north.
Ruth Berge
Note: from the video and the distance of the observation this could have been an orca or possibly a minke whale or something else entirely.

January 15
9:09 am - We have orcas in the Sinclair Inlet again -- 2 between Manette and Manchester, heading north/northeast.
L Michelle Gardner
Coastal orcas
January 20
5 orca Sighted west of Marietta Islands, Banderas Bay, Nayarit, (Puerta Vallarta) Mexico. eating a Thrasher Shark.
Hopefully photos will follow.
David Geist
 False killer whales
January 15
2:50 PM - 30 to 35 False Killer Whale pod traveling west - watched a large pod, 30-35 individuals, of False Killer Whales slowly pass Norwegian Point in Hansville heading west at approximately 2:50pm. The whales were just traveling in a line and not feeding. Their lack of speed and location close to the south side of the strait made for a great sighting. Plenty of time to watch them and try to get an approximate count. They were traveling west in an approximate line with no apparent feeding nor any beaching.
I waited a day to report the sighting because I was skeptical that the pod I saw could be False Killer Whales and finally decided that I should report what I had seen.  I am a photographer and almost never am without a camera, but, when I went on a quick trip to the Post Office on the fifteenth I didn't grab one of them.  I regretted it once I stopped at Norwegian Point just to see if anything was happening on the strait.  So, no images are available.  The whales were very close to shore, maybe four or five hundred feet out and I did have my binoculars.  Given their size in relation to the loons out near them I estimated the larger individuals to be somewhere in the range of fifteen feet in length.  My wife and I kayak and have been very close to Dall Porpoises, Grey Whales, Orcas, Humpback Whales and Common or Pacific Dolphins here in the Washington, around Vancouver Island and in Alaska.  These whales were none of those species.  They were black all over and had dorsal fins that were angled back with a rounded tip.  The fins were not nearly as tall as those on an Orca nor as pointed as those on a Dall Porpoise.  I never did see the snout area since they were not energetically surfacing while they traveled.  They were purposefully and slowly heading west and the entire group would surface twice before going under for a short period of time and then resurface twice again.  I saw this sequence about five times and the individuals didn't appear to change location within the group much.  They were not in a clump, rather more linear with never more than three or so next to each other, thus my rough count. 
Again, I am skeptical of my identification, but, given the size, shape and color of the whales thought I had better report the sighting.  It would be nice if someone else would see and report them.
David Keathley
Orca Network is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization, dedicated to raising awareness about the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats.

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.