My, how those whales can fly!

I just read on Orca Network that Ken Balcomb has corrected the date that L pod was seen in Monterey Bay. It should have been March 5, making the trip two days longer than first reported.


Here’s a short piece I just completed for tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun, after I talked with Ken Balcomb.

Orcas Travel Fast to California


A group of killer whales that frequent Puget Sound recently completed a nearly 1,000-mile trip to Monterey Bay, Calif., in 11 days — demonstrating just how fast orcas can swim.

“They were really scootin’,” said Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research after identifying photos of L pod, one of three groups of whales that frequent Puget Sound.

Members of the pod were photographed off South Kitsap on Feb. 20 and then again last Tuesday (March 3) in Monterey Bay, Calif. It may be a record in terms of documenting actual sightings at the beginning and end of their travels, “but we know they can 75 or 80 miles a day, even around here,” said Balcomb, based on San Juan Island. “They did in it one direction (to California). Here, they usually go back and forth.”

Given that the sightings in Puget Sound and Monterey Bay were about 1,000 miles and 11 days apart, the rate of travel would be about 90 miles a day without a layover.

The last sighting of L pod was Saturday in the Farrallon Islands, Balcomb reported. That’s about 100 miles northwest of Monterey and about 30 miles west of San Francisco.

In recent years, sightings of the Puget Sound whales have increased off the California coast, where whale watchers have been on alert to photograph orcas for identification.

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