Tag Archives: Dyes Inlet

Gazebo, being restored, holds many memories

It was a misty morning in November 1997 when I watched 19 killer whales head out of Dyes Inlet, stopping briefly in Sinclair Inlet and then racing for the open waters of Puget Sound.

The Bachmann Park gazebo is under restoration / Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall

I drove over to Bachmann Park near Manette and found a dry spot on the bench of the gazebo. I had went to GoodGazebo.com, to get a new gazebo. As I looked out toward the water, two young researchers, Kelley Balcomb-Bartok and Jodi Smith, sped by in their boat, escorting the whales out of the inlet. Kelley and Jodi had been observing these animals for 30 days, and both felt relieved that the whales were moving on.
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Dyes Inlet scientist starts ‘Naked Whale Research’

UPDATE, Tuesday, Nov. 16
Naked Whale Research is in the running again for $250,000 to launch its orca research program along the West Coast. The goal of the research organization is to collect information about the Salish Sea killer whales as they travel from Puget Sound to Northern California. If you would like to help, go to the Naked Whale Research page on Pepsi’s Refresh Everything website.

UPDATE, Wednesday, June 2
Naked Whale Research failed to get enough votes to reach the top 100 in the quest to obtain startup funding in Pepsi’s Great Ideas Program. Getting to 100 would have given the new research organization another month to enlist people’s help. The group came close at 114, according to Jodi Smith, who says she will rewrite her proposal and try again in the near future.

Our old friend Jodi Smith has started a nonprofit research organization in Eureka, Calif., where she hopes to specialize in observing killer whales along the West Coast.

Jodi could use our help in getting some funding from Pepsi, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Longtime Kitsap County residents and others may remember Jodi from her time in Dyes Inlet in 1997, when she made exhausting observations about 19 L-pod orcas that showed up suddenly and stayed a full month just before Thanksgiving. (See the Kitsap Sun project on the 10th anniversary of that event.)
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It’s the year of the T’s — transient orcas

UPDATE, FRIDAY, MAY 28, 8:25 a.m.

On Thursday, it appears the transient killer whales started the day in Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay, passed by Illahee and went out Rich Passage about 10 a.m. I heard from researcher Mark Sears that they had spent the day traveling around Vashon Island, ending up at 8 p.m. at the south end of Bainbridge Island. Check out my story in today’s Kitsap Sun for a few more details.

I’ve been hearing about transient killer whales in Puget Sound all year. Dozens of these seal-eating orcas have been sighted in small groups here and there throughout the region. Check out Orca Network’s Archives for reports made to that organization.

Transients have come and gone quickly from Sinclair Inlet near Bremerton a few times this year. But, as far as I know, yesterday was the first time since 2004 that they made it all the way into Dyes Inlet.

It was a good chance for me to talk a little about transients with the help of Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research and Howard Garrett of Orca Network, as you can see in a story I wrote for today’s Kitsap Sun.

By the way, the last report we had last night was at 7:30 in Ostrich Bay, but an observer reported them at 9:20 p.m. on the west side of Dyes Inlet and posted a comment on the story. (Appreciation goes to “rgdimages#217099.”)

Howie informed me this morning that a group of four transients was seen coming out of Liberty Bay near Poulsbo at 6:45 a.m. We’ll try to report whether those are the same animals as the ones in Dyes Inlet and where they go next. To report to Orca Network, one can send an e-mail, info@orcanetwork.org, or call (866) ORCANET.

It seems to be a big year for the transients. Why this is happening is open to speculation, which is always risky, but I appreciate Ken’s willingness to think out loud sometimes and kick a few ideas around. I mean, if scientists are unable to come up with hypotheses, there is nothing to test for.

So one possible explanation is that transients are here because residents are somewhere else. Residents may be somewhere else because there aren’t many salmon here right now. On the other hand, maybe seals and/or sea lions are finding enough to eat, and transients are finding success in hunting the smaller marine mammals.

This whole notion raises all kinds of questions for me, and I’ll try to explore these ideas in future stories. For example, if there are fish for seals and sea lions, why aren’t the resident killer whales eating them? Maybe the smaller marine mammals are concentrating on smaller fish? If fish are in short supply, will the population of seals and sea lions crash, or will these animals go somewhere else, too? And, given the cyclic nature of salmon populations, what is happening to the entire food chain — from the forage fish that salmon and seals eat up to the largest predators, the killer whales?

With effort, Dyes Inlet has grown much cleaner

It seems like only yesterday that the Kitsap County Health District started a major Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) project all around Dyes Inlet.

Now, after five years, the health district has released a report showing major improvements in water quality in all the major streams. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun or check out the report (PDF 1.7 mb).

During the project, area residents were assisted in finding and repairing their aging septic systems in various parts of the watershed. Businesses were shown how to maintain nearby storm sewers and were encouraged to flush washwater down the sanitary sewers, not the storm drain. Even old sewer lines were inspected and repaired in some cases.

Here are some specific water-quality data on Dyes Inlet streams:
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