Orca Network 

Whale Sighting Report  

In This Issue
Photo of the Day
Southern Residents
Bigg's/Transient orcas
Humpback whales
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Orca Network recommends:
Puget Sound Whales for Sale: The Fight to End Orca Hunting, by
Sandra Pollard
This important volume recounts the people whose determined efforts ultimately succeeded in ending the captures.


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?

Click here  

to order YOUR copy!



  David Kirby  

The bestseller about orcas in captivity


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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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December 15,  2015

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.
Monday's sunshine was a much welcomed break from the many heavy rain and windstorms that have been pounding our region. The sun came out yesterday and resident killer whales came in. At least some (if not all) members of J pod & L87 spent all daylight hours taking their time streaming  southbound in Admiralty Inlet. In no hurry, they made it just a bit over half way down the inlet, arriving south of Bush Point as the sun was settling down behind the Olympic Mountains. We anticipated early reports this morning,  but it was 1:30 before we received one from the Washington State Ferries of a pod of 7-10 off West  Seattle northbound. This group was last seen in the middle of Puget Sound out from Blakely Rock, Bainbridge Island. No confirmation on who it is, but it's possible J pod stayed over night.

December 11th had members of K & L pods southbound Rosario Strait who then took a right at the bottom of Lopez and continued west. The Center for Whale Research caught up with them as documented with encounter notes and photos in their Encounter #100 Report, excerpted here:
"...Figuring the whales might be going a maximum speed of seven or eight knots in the slacking low tide before they met the incoming tide, we were just about to angle up into Haro Strait when Giles spotted a fin to the south of us when we were about one and a half mile off Iceberg Point, Lopez Island. We found the whales, but they were incredibly spread out and taking very long dives, making photography very difficult. And, it was a mixture of K's and some L's, but no J's...."

Mark Malleson also caught up with the Ks & Ls that day and shares another beautiful image of newest SRKW calf L123  and her/his mom L103.

A sweet surprise Bigg's encounter for a regular sightings contributor who was aboard the Sidney ferry. And, a few humpbacks are still making Puget Sound and other inland areas home for the time being. Prior to the last two days it was a quiet whale sightings week.

Orca Network 
Photo of the Day
December 11 
L103 and new calf L123 south west bound west of Hein Bank on December 11th.
Photo by Mark Malleson 
Southern Residents
December 15 
3:10 p.m. - Orcas just off Bainbridge Island and Blake Island! Eventually they were just hanging out off Blakely Rocks for a bit. Heading North. (a video in format we are unable to include has mention of a calf and the whales were clearly foraging-ALB)
Greg Kramer
2:45 p.m. - I have been viewing from Alki point. Saw them north off Blake Island and one small group to the left of the yellow buoy heading north at 2:45.
2:18 p.m. - Between Vashon and Blake. Appear to be heading north.
Jill Hadji
Just heard from WA State Ferries that a pod of about 7 - 10 orcas was sighted off the Fauntleroy ferry dock at 1 pm heading south; then at about 1:30 they headed north. We talked to the Monitors at the Vashon ferry dock construction site and they had already paused their operations.

(All December 15th sightings reports are unconfirmed as to which type, seems likely J pod continued south and stayed overnight -ALB)


December 14 
The last whales I saw right around 4:15 looked like it was the J16s still southbound, with long down times.
3:34 p.m. -  Seeing foraging whales still southbound from Shore Meadows. (south of Bush Point, Whidbey Island)
Sara Hysong-Shimazu

The whales were distant by the time I caught up to them but that's okay.
South of Bush Point, whales + sunset = divine.
Photo by Sara Hysong-Shimazu, December 14, 2015 


L87 Onyx at Bush Point, Whidbey Island.
3:18 p.m. - Passing Bush Point and heading south. Lucky to have a few come somewhat near the beach....
Photo by Marilyn Armbruster, December 14, 2015
(ID by Sara Hysong-Shimazu) 

L87 Onyx (born 1992), he travels with J Pod.
Photo by Marilyn Armbruster, December 14, 2015

Photo by Marilyn Armbruster, December 14, 2015

Photo by Marilyn Armbruster, December 14, 2015

On the beach at Bush Point watching J pod pass by. 
Photo by Marilyn Armbruster, December 14, 2015 

3:07 p.m. - Orcas off Bush Point heading South.
Tim Oliver
2:20 p.m. - Orcas passing Lagoon Pt closer to Whidbey side heading south.
2:00 p.m. - Heading south at Ft Flagler
Marilyn Armbruster
(Rachel Haight's Day Report and photos)
When I first spotted J pod at Ebey's Landing, they were pushing SW away from me, so I made the decision to hop the ferry over to Port Townsend. As soon as I arrived to Fort Worden, I spotted whales just a 100 yards offshore or so. J27 was a little further out traveling with little brother J39. The group closer to me included J51. Time constraints forced me to take the 12:30 ferry home. As slow as the whales were moving, I was hopeful I might see them on the ferry. Halfway through the ride, still hadn't spotted a thing. Then, dead ahead was J34 traveling with his mom J22. After they passed by, I figured that was it. Then, a group with a small calf (J17s) popped up right next to the ferry and the captain cut the engines. It appeared a couple of the whales corralled and maneuvered the baby away from the ferry. This happened as the whales entered the sun glare and I wasn't able to get the best pictures. But, one of my last sights as the whales were behind us, was seeing J28 traveling with an itty bitty fin presumably J53, my first time seeing him/her! All in all, it was a much needed day spent in some much needed sunshine with many J pod whales. And HUGE thanks to Sara Hysong-Shimazu for helping me sort out IDs!
Rachel Haight

J Pod southbound Admiralty with the bluffs of Whidbey Island in the background.
Taken from shore at Fort Worden.
Photo by Rachel Haight, December 14, 2015
(assistance with IDs by Sara Hysong-Shimazu) 

Someone taking a look around.
Photo by Rachel Haight, December 14, 2015

The whale in the back was spyhopping, and it appeared almost ghostly due to the blow from the whale in front.
Photo by Rachel Haight, December 14, 2015 

J27 Blackberry (born 1991)
Photo by Rachel Haight, December 14, 2015 

J35 Tahlequah (born 1998)
Photo by Rachel Haight, December 14, 2015 

J41 Eclipse (born summer 2005)
Photo by Rachel Haight, December 14, 2015 

1:11 p.m. - They're definitely spread out and the groups I was watching at Ft Worden were actually the trailers. Spotted other blows much further south of ferry lanes while we had a group right next to the ferry, and they looked like the whales I had been watching at Ft Worden. Definitely over a dozen.
1:02 p.m. - They just crossed the Port Townsend ferry lanes. A group with a baby popped up right next to the ferry!
Rachel Haight
I can hear very faint calls between 12:15 - 12:30.
Kim Merriman
11:57 a.m. - just started hearing them on Port Townsend hydrophone.
Connie Bickerton
11:46 a.m. - They are currently going very slowly. I have to catch the 1230 ferry back, I'll be watching for them on there too. But at this rate they may not make Point No Point before dark, but they could pick up the pace, who knows!
11:36 a.m. - They just came up off Fort Worden. Slowly southbound. Positive ID on J27. One group is on Jefferson County side, I saw some further out mid channel.
9:55 a.m. -  they had pushed more west of me but were still south bound. They were north of Pt. Wilson. My only shot at a better view is to get lucky on the ferry, will update again in a bit.
9:30 a.m. - ust spotted them thanks to the Clipper. North of Ebeys landing still southbound.
Rachel Haight
8:30 a.m.  - about a dozen Orcas in 3 tight groups (looks like 2 have babies) heading south near Fort Ebey Park in no particular hurry on Whidbey side. They hung out tail slapping, breaching for about 15 minutes before continuing.
Wendy Shimada


December 11  
9:45 a.m. - Center for Whale Research relayed a report of orcas in Rosario Strait between Blakely and Cyprus Islands heading south. (K pod and L's  per CWR )  
Bigg's/Transient orcas
December 7 
12:50 p.m. - Sidney - FH/Anacortes Sailing. Just after crossing Haro Strait, N of Roche and nearing Spieden channel, Capt. announced the ferry was stopping for orcas. At least 3, possibly up to 6 Ts traveling fairly spread out. A few of them decided to swim alongside the ferry for a few minutes, giving everybody gorgeous flank views.
Ariel Yseth

T19B and T18 cruising ENE just N of Roche Harbor. 
Photo by Ariel Yseth, December 7, 2015
(ID by Melisa Pinnow, CWR)

Photo by Ariel Yseth, December 7, 2015
(ID by Melisa Pinnow, CWR) 
Humpback whales
December 14 - Juan de Fuca Strait 
Sweet double fluke! BCY0160 and calf near Race Rocks.
Photo by Mark Malleson, December 14, 2015 

December 14 - Puget Sound 
1:15 p.m. - As we wait in Eglon for the orcas, there are 2 humpbacks breaching like crazy just west of the southbound shipping lane - they breached repeatedly as 2 freighters passed by.
Photo by Rebecca French Gerke, December 14, 2015 


December 9 - central Puget Sound 
1:35 p.m. - Juvenile humpback whale sighting. Feeding between Vashon Head and Southworth.
John Rogstad, WSF

December 9 - north central Puget Sound 
3:57 p.m. - took a quick look and found the blows real close to Kitsap side. Between Rose Point and Elgon.
1:22 p.m. - confirmed multiple whales by simultaneous blows - still due west of north Edmonds, still mid channel.
12:59 p.m. - must be in a feeding pattern - turned and more northerly now. Still mid channel due west of north Edmonds. Stays on surface for several blows then rolls into a dive.. Weird that the fluke doesn't come up on any dives I've seen.
12:17 p.m. -  blows spotted mid channel - line of sight between north Edmonds and Just north of Rose Point (north of Kingston). At least one maybe a couple. Slowly heading south.
Stu Davidson
10:50 a.m.  - Just at least one, possibly two, humpback blows mid channel between Point No Point and Edmonds, nicely backlit by the morning sun.
Howard Garrett, Orca Network


December 7  
3:20 p.m. - Blows seen mid-channel Edmonds by Rob Woeck, WSDOT. No ID, nothing since then. Rick Huey, WSF
3:25 p.m. -  a pair of humpbacks just north of Eglon, a few hundred yards offshore Kitsap, slowly moving south (viewed from downtown Edmonds).
Sherman Page. 

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.