Tag Archives: Whale Trail

Orca celebrations and environmental learning are filling our calendar

From killer whales to native plants, it’s a potpourri of activities and events I would like to share with you. June is Orca Month. But first, on Saturday, we can celebrate the 15th anniversary of the remarkable rescue of a young killer whale named Springer.

Also coming in June are gatherings small and large, including a water-based festival in Silverdale later in the month.

Celebrate Springer!

This Saturday, May 20, folks will come together to celebrate Springer — the lost baby orca who was rescued and returned to her home in British Columbia. The 15th anniversary of the rescue will be commemorated on Vashon Island, at the Vashon Theatre, 17723 Vashon Highway SW.

Springer and her calf, named Spirit, who was born in 2013. // Photo: Christie MacMillan

The celebration will include stories recounting the event, starting when Springer was found alone near the Seattle-Vashon Island ferry lanes and continuing through her return to the north end of Vancouver Island after being restored to good health. The celebration will include dancing by the Le-La-La Dance Group. These are the First Nations dancers who welcomed Springer back to her home waters 15 years ago.

For details, check out the web site of The Whale Trail, which is sponsoring the celebration, which I wrote about in Water Ways on the 10th anniversary of the rescue.

Orca Month

The kickoff of Orca Month will include a tribute to Granny, the elderly matriarch who led J pod for decades until her death this past year. The opening event, sponsored by Orca Salmon Alliance, will be Sunday, June 4, at Golden Gardens Bathhouse in Seattle. RSVP on the Orca Month Facebook page.

If you would like to immerse yourself in information about the Southern Resident killer whales, you may enjoy the annual “Orcas in Our Midst” workshop on Whidbey Island on Saturday, June 10. Speakers will include Howard Garrett of Orca Network discussing the status of the Southern Residents, Mike Ford of NOAA talking about killer whale genetics, and Jacques White of Long Live the Kings addressing the critical Salish Sea Salmon. For details and reservations, visit the Orca Network website.

Other events during Orca Month include a screening of the film “The Unknown Sea” in Burien on June 1, naturalists in the parks on June 3, “Day of the Orca” in Port Townsend on June 3, beach cleanups on June 13, Orca Sing on San Juan Island on June 24, and Orca Awareness Weekend at Seattle Aquarium on June 24 and 25. All events, including those in Oregon and British Columbia are featured on the Orca Awareness Month webpage.

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Maps for salmon-viewing and whale-watching

I’ve been away from “Water Ways” quite a lot lately while covering a trial in Tacoma involving safety and environmental concerns at Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. Kitsap County is suing the club over operations at its gun range near Bremerton. (Watch for my “live blogging” or read the stories on the Kitsap Sun website.)

Meanwhile, I’d like to call your attention to a story by Kitsap Sun reporter Brynn Grimley, who took a “salmon tour” via kayak last weekend. Her close-up story and some great photos by Meeghan Reid can be seen in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.

Whale Trail poster / Click on image to download poster (PDF 1.5 mb)

As chum salmon begin to arrive in small streams throughout the Kitsap Peninsula, you may wish to carefully observe their migration and spawning. Several years ago, a couple of us at the Sun created a map with videos depicting the best viewing spots. Check out Kitsap Sun Salmon Map. I hope to update the videos with new information when I get time.

Another map that may be of interest is the “Whale Trails” map that purports to show the best places in Puget Sound to view marine mammals. Unfortunately, there are no places shown on the Kitsap Peninsula. I might recommend Point No Point County Park in North Kitsap, locations on the Kingston waterfront, and Bachmann Park in the city of Bremerton, as well as several places on Bainbridge Island.

The Whale Trail organization sent me a poster for the Washington State Ferries that will help riders know what kinds of marine mammals they may be seeing. This is a great idea, and I hope people will take the opportunity to learn about the kinds of animals common in the waters of Puget Sound. Click on the image (PDF 2.5 mb), above right, to download the poster.

The Puget Sound killer whales are a little late this year in making excursions into South Puget Sound. They typically come south hunting for chum salmon after the runs of chinook decline up north. I’ll have more to say about this when we begin to see them more frequently, assuming they are just late this year.