Tag Archives: Monterey Bay

Female orca in declining health shows amazing signs of recovery

The killer whale J-17, known as Princess Angeline, seems to have made a remarkable recovery since December, when the 42-year-old female was diagnosed with “peanut head” — an indicator of malnutrition that almost always leads to death.

Princess Angeline, J-17, in Admiralty Inlet Sunday
Photo: Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research
Federal permits: NMFS 21238 / DFO SARA 388

Now Princess Angeline looks much better and shows few signs of that dire condition, said Ken Balcomb, director of the Center for Whale Research who got a good look at her Sunday when J pod came into Puget Sound.

“Since New Year’s Eve, J-17 has fared much better than we expected,” Ken told me. “They must have found some winter food up in Georgia Strait.”

At one point, Ken had said it would be a “miracle” if she were ever seen again.

Continue reading

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.