J pod crossed the Canadian border and came into Puget Sound over
this past weekend, allowing Brad Hanson and his fellow researchers
to meet up with whales.
Brad, of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, was able to
locate the killer whales from a satellite transmitter attached to
J-27, a 24-year-old male named Blackberry.
As you can see from the chart, the whales swam south, then
turned back north near Vashon and Maury islands. The researchers
met up with them Saturday morning on their return trip past
Seattle’s Elliott Bay, according to an update on the
The newest baby in J pod, designated J-50, was spotted with
J-16, according to the report from Hanson and crew. Other reports
have indicated that J-36 was also nearby, so it appears that the
new calf’s mother still is not certain. Researchers agree that the
mom is either J-36, a 15-year-old orca named Alki, or else Alki’s
mother — 42-year-old J-16, named Slick.
The researchers collected scraps of fish left behind by the
orcas’ hunting activities. Fecal samples also were collected. Those
various samples will help determine what the whales were
Orca Network published photos taken by whale observers near
Edmonds north of Seattle as well as from Point No Point in North
Yesterday, J pod headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The
map shows them at the entrance to the strait going toward the ocean
at 6:15 this morning.
Orca Network reports that K and L pods apparently headed into
Canada’s Strait of Georgia on Friday, as J pod moved into Puget
Sound. It sounds like the two pods missed each other. We’ll see if
they meet up in the next few days.
Meanwhile, at least one group of transient killer whales has
been exploring South Puget Sound for more than 50 days, according
to the Orca Network report. That’s a rare occurrence indeed. A
second group of transients has been around for much of that time as
Thanks to a baby photo from Jane Cogan, the newest killer whale
in J pod has been identified as a girl, according to Ken Balcomb of
the Center for Whale Research.
We still don’t know whether the mother is 42-year-old J-16,
known as Slick, or Slick’s 16-year-old daughter J-36, known as
Alki. At moment, the family group, which consists of J-16, her
three offspring plus the new calf, are sticking close together.
“It may take a little time for us to sort it out,” Ken told me,
but the mother should become apparent within a few weeks, if not
sooner, because the calf must be getting milk from the mom. From
all indications, the little one is doing fine.
Initially, the calf was thought to be the offspring of J-16,
because J-36 was some distance away. But now it seems just as
likely that J-16 was babysitting while J-36 got some rest, Ken told
Yesterday, Jane and Tom Cogan of San Juan Island took an
overnight trip up north into British Columbia, where J pod has been
swimming near Texada Island since the beginning of the new year.
Jane sent back a good photograph of the baby’s underneath side.
According to Ken, it is not unusual for mothers to roll their
babies near the surface of the water.
Female killer whales have a more rounded pattern in the genital
area, while males have a more elongated pattern of coloration. A
good photo is all it takes to tell a boy from a girl. For
comparison, see Questions
& Answers at Center for Whale Research website.
I talked to Tom briefly this afternoon. He told me that J-50 was
acting playful at times, like young whales will do, with some tail
slapping and porpoising.
“I would say it looked healthy,” he said. “It was following J-16
a lot of the time, but all of the family was in the area, and they
would group up at times.
“We’ll show Ken our pictures and debrief him when we get back,”
A 24-year-old male orca named Blackberry, designated J-27, has
been carrying a satellite transmitter since Monday, allowing
experts to track the movements of J pod.
The research project, started in 2011 and led by Brad Hanson of
the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, is designed to figure out
where J pod goes in winter and early spring. J pod does not seem to
travel far down the West Coast, as K and L pods do.
As luck would have it, the satellite tag was in place Wednesday
when a portion of J pod headed into East Sound on the south side of
Orcas Island. A day later, they were seen by observers with a new
calf, J-50, which I reported in
Water Ways yesterday and updated today. Nobody seems to recall
the whales ever going into that waterway, as suggested by comments
to a post on Orca
Network’s Facebook page yesterday at 5:19 p.m. It’s long been
speculated that orcas seek out calm waters, when possible, to give
The mother of J-50 is still a mystery, though it could be solved
as observers notice which adult female is spending the most time
with the young animal.
After J-27 was tagged about equidistant from Sequim, Whidbey
Island, San Juan Island and Victoria, the whales worked their way
through the islands near the Canadian border, then moved north to
Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia, east of Comox, B.C. As of
this morning, they were still traveling around that general
vicinity, as you can see from the map on this page and previous
maps on the project’s webpage. The page called
“2015 Southern Resident Killer Whale Satellite Tagging” also
contains information about the project’s goals.
I have written about these tagging efforts and the controversy
surrounding them since permits were first proposed under the
Endangered Species Act. You’ll find last year’s stories and links
to previous stories in Water Ways on
Jan. 3, 2014, and later on
Jan. 14, 2014. You can also search the blog for “satellite and
orcas” to find just about everything I’ve blogged about on the
After thinking it over, Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale
Researchers says it is likely that J-16 is the grandmother of the
new calf, not the mother.
J-16, known as Slick, could have been babysitting the young
whale when the two were spotted by observers. If so, the mom is
probably J-36, a 15-year-old female named Alki, who was following a
few miles behind at the time.
The pattern of older whales taking care of young relatives has
been seen many times before, occasionally even with newborns, Ken
told me. The mother may have needed some time for rest and recovery
after giving birth, especially if it was a tough delivery, he
The baby had evident scratches, known as “rake marks,” on its
back and dorsal fin caused by the teeth of another killer whale,
Ken said. He believes it could be an indication that the
grandmother assisted with the birth.
Whoever the mother is, the baby’s condition indicates that it
has been nursing, and that’s a good sign.
If J-16 is the mother, she would be the oldest known orca to
give birth among the three Southern Resident pods. If it is J-36,
then the young mom could need help from her own mother.
If J-36 is the mom, then she should be spending most of her time
with her new baby. That could come within a few days or up to a
couple weeks, Ken told me. Observers are making a special effort to
see who is spending time with whom over the next few days.
“This is an interesting little mystery,” Ken said. “If the
whales do their part, we should be able to figure it out.”
Tracking them could be made easier because of a satellite tag
attached to another member of J pod — J-27, a 24-year-old male
named Blackberry. The barbed tag was attached to the whale’s dorsal
fin in open waters about equidistant from Sequim, Whidbey Island,
Victoria and the south end of San Juan Island. Since then, the
whales have moved north into Canada. I’ll soon have a separate blog
post on the tracking study.
A newborn killer whale, reported Tuesday by the Center for Whale
Research, was identified as the offspring of 42-year-old J-16 — the
oldest known orca to ever give birth among the three Puget Sound
“No other female has given birth at over 42 years of age in the
four decades of demographic field studies of the Southern Resident
orcas,” according to a statement from
Orca Network. “J-16 was not expected to be carrying a calf due
to her advanced age.”
It’s odd how the circumstances have worked out. The birth of
this new calf, designated J-50, becomes the first major news story
about the Southern Residents since we heard about the death of
J-32, named Rhapsody. See Water Ways for
Dec. 7 and a later report on
Rhapsody was only 18 years old when she died carrying an unborn
calf. Before her death, experts had high hopes that Rhapsody would
live long and produce many babies. If she had ever given birth
before, her offspring died before they were noticed by
So it is that we have the death of a young killer whale with an
unborn calf and now a new birth to an older whale thought to be
beyond reproductive age. Let’s hope this new baby orca survives,
lives long and contributes to the endangered killer whale
J-16, named Slick, has six known offspring, including the new
baby. Three others are still alive: J-26, a male named Mike, born
in 1991; J-36, a female named Alki, born in 1999; and J-42, a
female named Echo, born in 2007. The deceased offspring are a male
that died at 14 years of age in 2010 and a baby orca that died in
2011 after living about a month.
Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research has written an
excellent report about the recent death of J-32, the Southern
Resident orca that died with an unborn and decomposing offspring
Ken’s report talks not only about his observations of the
necropsy, which I reported in
Water Ways on Saturday, but it also includes his observations
as he watched the young whale grow up:
“The decade around the millennium was a difficult time for the
J10 matriline – J32’s mom (J20) died at the age of seventeen in
1998 when J32 was only two years old; her grandmother (J10), who
took over her care, died at the age of thirty-seven in 1999, when
J32 was only three years old; and her uncle (J18) died at the age
of 23 in 2000. All died young relative to the average lifespan of
50+ for females and 29 for males in this species.
“Fortunately, auntie J22 at age thirteen gave birth to a baby
(J34) in 1998, and provided orphaned J32 the required nurturing of
a ‘mom’. With that nurturing from grandmother and auntie, including
perhaps a little milk, J32 made it through her infancy and into her
teens to be a very vivacious young whale, full of energy.”
Ken writes eloquently about his concerns regarding the high
levels of toxic contaminants carried in the blubber of the Southern
Resident orcas. The contaminants are known to cause problems with
the immune and reproductive systems. They also can cause brain
deficits that can lead to behavior disorders. He writes:
“These pollutants are released to circulate in the bloodstream
when the whales’ blubber fats are metabolized for energy when fresh
food is scarce. It is like having a freezer full of tainted and
freezer-burned food that you never have to eat unless there is
nothing in the grocery store. When nothing else is available the
bad stuff is taken out of storage and circulated for body
Ken also repeats his plea for people to take action in the face
of ongoing disaster for the local killer whale population —
including this sudden death of a young mother known as Rhapsody and
her unborn offspring.
“This is a very ugly situation for the population of Southern
Resident killer whales – our beloved orca. I think we must restore
abundant healthy prey resources ASAP if these whales are to have
any chance of avoiding extinction. The critical point for their
recovery may already have passed. I hope not, but it will soon pass
if we do not take immediate action.”
A seven-week-old baby orca born to our Southern Resident pods
was reported missing and presumed dead today. This was the newborn
orca who brought so much hope and excitement to our area, being the
first reported birth in more than two years.
When I called Ken Balcomb this morning, he was in a “subjective”
state of mind, as he put it. Ken, of the Center for Whale Research,
has been keeping track of the three Southern Resident pods since
1976, and he’s clearly worried that these whales may be headed for
As we talked on the phone, Ken was peering through the large
windows of his home on San Juan Island and watching a large purse
seine vessel scooping up chum salmon and possibly other species as
“I look at this every day, and I’ve seen this for almost 40
years,” Ken said. “There is no letup on the human part. Virtually
no fish are getting past the outlet. We know the Fraser River runs
are in poor shape, and our management doesn’t seem to take any kind
of ecosystem approach.”
Salmon biologists set the sport and commercial fishing seasons
based on an estimate of the number of fish returning. They update
that estimate during the season based on harvest numbers caught in
“Whatever they are doing, it obviously has not worked, since
we’ve seen run after run not doing well,” Ken said. “I get
subjective about it and wonder when our society is going to do
something to get more prey (for the whales).”
Ken said there was much hope for the seven-week-old orca,
designated L-120, the third known offspring of the 23-year-old
mother designated L-86.
“I was optimistic,” he told me. “When we first saw the baby, it
had a squished-looking head, but even human babies can be born with
a flattened head.
“Within a week, it was filling out well and was energetic,” he
continued, and there was no reason to believe the calf would
The Southern Residents are known to bear a heavy burden of toxic
chemicals, but transient killer whales are even more contaminated.
The difference may be that transients, which eat marine mammals,
may be getting enough food. Was the orca mom unable to nurse her
baby? Did the toxic chemicals cause an immune deficiency? Or was
there another problem? We’ll probably never know.
All three orca pods were probably out in the ocean when the
youngster disappeared. The mom was seen with other whales on
Friday, Saturday and Sunday without the calf — something that would
not happen if the baby were alive.
L-120 was the third calf born to L-86. Her second calf, L-112,
washed up dead at Long Beach in February 2010. After much
investigation, researchers concluded that L-112 had died of blunt
force trauma, but what caused the injury was never determined. Ken
suspects some kind of explosive detonation, although that cause was
discounted by investigators.
Howard Garrett of Orca Network said the orcas have faced a
shortage of food, toxic chemicals, routine shooting with guns and a
series of captures that depleted the population.
“We haven’t treated these magnificent orcas well at all,” Howie
said in a news release. “As a society we are not successfully
restoring this orca community, despite the many warnings and legal
“Our challenge is clear: Bountiful salmon runs must be restored
and protected or we won’t see resident orcas in the Salish Sea in
coming years,” he added.
The latest population count places the total number at 78, the
lowest number since 1986, according to records by the Center of
UPDATE, Oct. 4
Orca Network reported a brief appearance of J pod this week near
San Juan Island: “On Wednesday, October 1, J pod plus L87 Onyx
and a few K pod members shuffled in small groups spread out up and
down the west side of San Juan Island for over eight hours, then
returned around midnight and continued vocalizing near the Lime
Kiln hydrophones for another few hours.”
As chum salmon swim back to their home streams in Puget Sound
this fall, three killer whale pods — the Southern Residents — can
be expected to follow, making their way south along the eastern
shoreline of the Kitsap Peninsula.
These forays into Central and South Puget Sound could begin any
day now and continue until the chum runs decline in November or
December. The Southern Residents, which typically hang out in the
San Juan Islands in summer, have not been spotted for several days,
so they are likely somewhere in the ocean at the moment, according
to Howard Garrett of Orca Network.
This year, Orca Network has created a map of good viewing sites
to help people look for whales from shore. As the orcas move south
into Puget Sound, Orca Network’s
Facebook page becomes abuzz with killer whale
sightings. Observers can use the information to search for the
whales from shore.
From my experience, it takes a bit of luck to find the orcas,
because they are constantly moving. But the search can be fun if
you consider it an adventure and don’t get too disappointed if you
don’t find the whales right away.
Howie said expanding the network to include more land-based
observers can help researchers track whale movements and
occasionally go out to pick up samples of their fecal material or
food left over from their foraging, helpful in expanding our
knowledge about what they are eating.
Whale reports may be called in to Orca Network’s toll-free
number: (866)-ORCANET, emailed to email@example.com, or posted
on Facebook, www.facebook.com/OrcaNetwork.
The new Viewpoints Map shows locations where killer
whales have been sighted in the past, or else they lie along a
known route of their travels.
I told Howie about a few good viewing locations in Kitsap
County, based on my experiences, and he said he would welcome ideas
from others as well.
“It’s a work in progress,” Howie said. “They just need to be
locations that are public and accessible.” If you know of a good
whale-watching spot, you can contact Howie or his wife Susan Berta
by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If offering a location for the map, please give a clear
description of the site and state whether you have seen whales from
that location or just believe it would work based on the view of
Some people have expressed concern that real-time reports of
whale movements may encourage boaters to go out and follow the
orcas in Puget Sound, disturbing their feeding behavior at a
critical time of year. But Howie says Orca Network has increased
its reporting through the years and has not heard of many
“It seems like a potential problem that never really happens,”
Winter weather and rougher seas makes it difficult to find the
whales from the water, Howie noted. As in summer, boaters are
required by federal regulation to avoid interfering with their
travels. See the “Be
Whale Wise” website.
When reporting whale sightings to Orca Network, observers are
asked to list the species, location, time, direction of travel and
approximate number of animals. When reporting killer whales, the
number of adult males with towering dorsal fins should be noted.
Also report any behaviors, such as breaching, spy-hopping or
feeding. Good photographs are especially valuable.
Sighting reports can be found on the Orca Network
page or Twitter
feed. One can also sign up for email alerts from the website, which
includes reports of recent sightings as well as archives going back
to 2001. The site also tracks news and research developments.
As Howard stated in a news release:
“We are very fortunate to live in a place where we can look out
from nearby shorelines and see those majestic black fins parting
the waters. We are thankful for the hundreds of citizens who report
sightings each year, providing valuable data to help in recovery
efforts for the endangered Southern Resident orcas.”
Erich Hoyt, who has been enjoying adventures with killer whales
and other sea creatures since the early 1970s, will share his
understanding of the underwater world during a series of
presentations from British Columbia to Northern California.
The tour begins today on Saturna Island in British Columbia. For
the full schedule, visit The
Whale Trail website.
Erich has a rare talent. He is both an engaging writer as well
as an experienced scientific researcher. His first book, “Orca: A
Whale Called Killer,” is essential reading for orca supporters. His
understanding of the oceans has led him into the field of
conservation, seeking greater protections for marine habitats
throughout the world.
As Erich prepared for his upcoming tour, sponsored by The Whale Trail, I had the
privilege to visit with him for more than an hour via Skype from
his home in Bridport, England.
We discussed how people’s attitudes in the U.S. and Canada have
changed since 1973. That was when Erich’s curiosity was sparked by
encounters with Northern Resident orca pods in British Columbia,
where he had moved from the U.S. with his family.
Those were the days when little was known about killer whales.
Orcas were still being captured in the Northwest and sent to
aquariums throughout the world. Since then, we have learned how
those first captures had a serious effect on the close-knit orca
communities. Continuing threats today include pollution and a lack
of chinook salmon, the primary prey of orcas.
In 1999, Erich helped start a research program in Russian to
bring the same kind of scientific scrutiny and conservation
concerns to killer whales on the opposite side of the ocean. That
program, involving Russian scientists, revealed the presence of two
types of orcas, those that eat marine mammals and those that eat
fish — similar to what we call “transients” and “residents” in the
Orca communities identified so far in Russia range in size from
50 to 600 animals. As we’ve seen in the Northwest, cultures — such
as vocal dialects and feeding habits — are handed down from mother
An awareness of orcas, as seen in the U.S. and Canada, has not
reached Russia or many places in the world, Hoyt says. Russia still
allows killer whales to be captured, and last year seven orcas were
taken from the Sea of Okhotsk. Earlier captures in Russia were
especially disheartening to the researchers who had come to know
the individual animals taken from their families.
During his presentation, Erich will show a brief video of some
of the Russian capture efforts.
In countries such as Russia, China and Japan, new marine
aquariums are being built all the time, with orcas and beluga
whales as the star attractions. That’s in stark contrast to the
situation in the U.S., where a growing awareness of wild orcas
along with the film “Blackfish” has helped change people’s
attitudes about keeping large marine mammals in captivity.
Erich told me that he would like to see more people around the
world come to know individual orcas by name, as we do here in the
“Look at how far things have come, from when we didn’t know
anything about them to when we start to see them as our friends,”
About a week ago, I reported that NOAA Fisheries had undertaken
a yearlong review to determine if the “critical habitat” for
Southern Resident killer whales should be extended down the
Washington and Oregon coasts. See
Kitsap Sun, April 24 (subscription). A special consideration
for protecting the whales from undue noise was part of the petition
from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Hoyt agreed that sound should be given special consideration by
the federal government.
“Rob Williams (a Canadian researcher) talks about acoustic
refuges,” Erich noted. “It is a challenging issue, because whales
and dolphins can hear so well… We will need much larger marine
protected areas if we really want to protect them…”
A general increase in noise levels in the ocean can lead to
habituation by marine mammals, he noted. As they grow accustomed to
louder sounds, the animals may adjust — but how will that affect
their ability to communicate and find prey? What are the prospects
for their long-term survival under more noisy conditions?
And then there is the special issue of mid-frequency sonar,
which can cause temporary or even permanent hearing loss for some
species. Navies that use sonar must be extra careful to avoid
impacts, he said.
Erich and I also talked about L-112, the young female orca that
washed up dead near Long Beach about the time the Royal Canadian
Navy was conducting exercises far to the north. Investigators were
unable to determine what caused the “blunt-force” injury to the
animal. But they ruled out explosives being used by the Navy,
because the currents were in the wrong direction and the distance
was too great.
“This brings to mind the crash of the Malaysian jetliner,” Erich
said. “You know something unusual happened, but it defies almost
any explanation you bring up. Scientists tend to come up with
explanations that are the simplest … but they should be careful not
to rule anything out.”
Killer whale researcher Ken Balcomb has suggested that L-112’s
mother may have carried her dead daughter to the area where she was
found. Hoyt said he has personally observed a female white-sided
dolphin carrying her dead offspring for more than two hours in
“It was really touching. We didn’t know at first if the baby was
dead. We were not very close. But eventually the mother just let go
of the baby.”
Erich expects mixed audiences at his upcoming appearances — from
people who know more about certain issues than he does to people
who are dragged to the event by a friend.
One message will be that people can watch whales from shore
without causing them any disturbance. That’s the mission of The
Whale Trail, the organization sponsoring Erich’s trip to locations
where killer whales may be seen from shore.
I told Erich about my first adventures with killer whales during
the fall of 1997, when 19 orcas visited Dyes Inlet. See “The Dyes
Inlet Whales 10 Years Later.” One of my messages at that time
was to encourage people to watch from vantage points in Tracyton,
Chico and Silverdale.
“Land-based whale watching is really close to my heart,” Erich
told me. “It’s the kind of thing that’s important for the community
… and a fantastic way to get to know wildlife.”
Hoyt’s appearances in Washington state include this Wednesday in
Port Townsend, Thursday in Port Angeles and May 18 in Seattle.
Whale Trail website for the full schedule.
K pod, one of the three pods of orcas that frequent Puget Sound,
came south through the San Juan Islands yesterday and were spotted
in South Puget Sound late this afternoon.
It’s quite unusual to see K pod coming into Puget Sound this
early in the year, noted killer whale researcher Brad Hanson of the
Northwest Fisheries Science Center.
K pod contains 19 orcas and is often seen with other pods, but
not this time. If history is any indication, they will soon be
heading back out to the ocean. They are more likely to begin
hanging out in the San Juan Islands in late May or early June.
Susan Berta of Orca
Network told me that whale researcher Ken Balcomb had been out
with the whales Sunday and was able to account for all the animals
(no deaths), but there were no new babies either.
Brad said his crew collected two fecal samples, but they may not
be representative of ocean feeding, since the whales have been
around for more than a day. Research has been focusing on what
Southern Resident orcas eat when they are in the ocean.
The whales may have been spotted first this morning by a crew on
one of the Seattle ferries. The report to Orca Network was a single
killer whale a mile north of Alki Point, about mid-channel, at 7:30
The K pod reports came amidst other reports of transient killer
whales heading north from Point No Point about 9:30 a.m., passing
Whidbey Island an hour later and off Everett in the early
afternoon, according to reports on Orca Network. Another group of
transients was reported on the other side of Whidbey in Admiralty
Inlet and later seen heading west in the Strait of Juan de
Because of the multiple transient reports, Brad said he was
caught by surprise this morning when he went out and found all of K
pod swimming south in Colvos Passage off South Kitsap.
Normally, resident orcas first pass Vashon Island on the east
side and come north through Colvos Passage.
“We kept getting all these weird reports,” said Susan, who was
kept busy posting updates to Orca Network’s Facebook
page. “We heard about one lone orca off Alki, then another
group, and I said, ‘I wonder if that is K pod all strung out down
there.’ We were not expecting that.”
Susan said it is rare, but not unprecedented, for residents to
come into Puget Sound in early spring. In March 2006, K and L pods
arrived together and went all the way south to Olympia.
Tracking J pod for 30 days — mostly during the month of January
— lends support for the idea that this group of Southern Resident
killer whales strongly depends on the inland waters of the Salish
Sea, perhaps more so than K and L pods.
A satellite transmitter was attached to L-87, a 22-year-old male
orca named Onyx who has been spending his time with J pod. The
tracking effort is part of a study to determine where the whales
travel in winter. While one month of tracking doesn’t prove much,
it is interesting to know that J pod can hang out for days around
Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia without being noticed.
The following video, courtesy of the Northwest Fisheries
Science Center, depicts travels of the whales from Dec. 26, when
the tag was attached, to Jan. 23, when the tag apparently fell
The tracks end just as the orcas seem to be leaving the Strait
of Juan de Fuca, but so far we don’t know if they continued or
When the whales moved into Central and South Puget Sound, as
shown by the satellite tracks, observers watching from shore and on
ferries reported the whales each time, noted Brad Hanson, who is
leading the tracking study for the NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries
Science Center. On the other hand, the whales were infrequently
reported while in the Strait of Georgia and Strait of Juan de Fuca,
“One thing that was interesting to see,” he noted, “is that the
movements are completely different from what they do in
In summer, J pod often moves north into Canada but not much
beyond the Fraser River near Vancouver. These winter travels show
the J pod moves farther north and stays in the northern part of the
Strait of Georgia for extended periods of time.
What they are finding there to eat has not been fully studied,
but some percentage of chinook salmon reared in local waters are
known to stay inside the Salish Sea, never swimming out to the
Past studies based on recorded killer whale calls have shown
that J pod moves into the open Pacific Ocean on occasion, but the
whales rarely travel very far down the coast. The recording
equipment was moved this winter to strategic locations to better
distinguish how far south J pod travels in winter, Brad said.
Over the next couple months, researchers will continue to look
for opportunities to attach tags to killer whales, he said. A
cruise aboard a large research vessel in March will attempt to
follow the Southern Residents, identify their feeding areas and
determine what they are eating in the ocean.