Orca Network 

Whale Sighting Report  

In This Issue
Photo of the Day
Southern Residents
Bigg's killer whales & a Buck
Unidentified killer whales
Coastal killer whales
Humpback whales
Gray whales
Sea Lions

One-day workshop January 21, 2017
Coupeville, Whidbey Island.
Workshop information & registration HERE.  


 Gray Whales of Baja's San Ignacio Lagoon
Feb 24-28, 2017
Information, registration, & previous trip photos

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Orca Network recommends:
Puget Sound Whales for Sale: The Fight to End Orca Hunting, by
Sandra Pollard
This important volume recounts the people whose determined efforts ultimately succeeded in ending th e captures.


The Lost Whale, by
Michael Parfit and
Suzanne Chisolm
  An intensely personal story...but this person is a young orca.  

Lost Whale book...ver scaled



To learn more  

about orcas: 

Orcas in Our Midst, volume 3, by Howard Garrett

Orcas in Our Midst,

Vol. 3: Residents and Transients, How Did That Happen?

Click here  

to order YOUR copy!



  David Kirby  

The bestseller about orcas in captivity


Quick Links

Click here

to learn about L pod




captured in Penn Cove,

Whidbey Island, WA

in 1970, somehow surviving in a small tank at the Miami Seaquarium ever since.

Tokitae looking up at us from her tank in Miami, FL in the late 1990s 

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December 26,   2016

We are watching and visiting the whales in their home~

Please observe, love and respect them from a distance.

Having trouble viewing this Sightings Report? Archived Reports can be found HERE.
December 21st brought the startling and heartbreaking news of yet another death of a member of J pod of the Endangered Southern Residents; 18-year old J34 known as Doublestuf, son of J22 Oreo and big brother to J38 Cookie, the beloved family known as "The Cookies".
Year to year we lay witness to the deep bonds these families share and how their days are spent in close connection to one another. We see the relationships between mothers and their offspring and have knowledge of the importance of each member to their immediate and extended families and their clan. Our hearts and minds are especially focused on J22 and J38 as they move through this transition of life without their vibrant son and brother.

Excerpt from  the Press Release on the death of J34 by the Center for Whale Research:
We regret having to make a distressing announcement during this holiday season, but we confirm from news photographs and eyepatch photos sent to the Center for Whale Research that the killer whale carcass that was towed to a beach near Sechelt on the BC Sunshine coast is indeed that of J34, an eighteen-year-old male in the iconic J pod of the Endangered Southern Resident Killer population. The carcass was observed floating near shore on Tuesday, December 20th 2016 and was recovered by coast guard personnel and Sechelt First Nation members.... 
Assuming no other whales are missing, J pod now has 25 members, K pod 19 members, and L pod 35 members 
Total SRKW population 79, but this number is obviously subject to change with births and deaths at any time.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Initial Necropsy Results: Southern Resident Killer Whale J34:
Initial examination indicates that the animal appears to have blunt trauma to the dorsal side, and a hematoma indicating that J34 was alive at the time of injury. A CAT scan will be conducted on the skull to determine if there are any fractures...

PLEASE JOIN US - Candlelight Vigils for Southern Resident Orcas  
We are so attached to these beautiful individuals and their families and the loss affects us all in various ways.  Please join us on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 as we hold candlelight vigils around the Salish Sea in honor and remembrance of the beloved Southern Resident Killer Whales who have been lost in 2016: J55, L95, J14, J28, J54 and three unnamed calves.

4:45-7:00pm at Langley Whale Center, 115 Whidbey Island

4:45-7:00pm at Alki Beach Statue of Liberty, 1702 Alki Ave SW, West Seattle 

4:00-6:00pm at Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island

Our Whale Sighting Report also includes beautiful and much needed uplifting encounters with residents and Bigg's orcas, both of which have been seen traveling around the San Juans and other inland waterways this past week. At least one humpback has been reported on several days hanging around the Tacoma area.

While we do not yet know the cause, J34's death is another jarring reminder we truly must continue to encourage and motivate ourselves and one another to change irrational and unhealthy habits that serve none of us in the long run. Southern Residents need an abundance of healthy Chinook salmon and cleaned up waterways. We all need a repaired and cleaned up planet. A healthy goal worthy of our ongoing attention and efforts. Rest in Peace J34, our hearts are with you.

Photo of the Day
December 14 
- To date, last confirmed photo of J34, Point Robinson, Puget Sound -
12/14/16, was the last time I saw J34...I rushed to Point Robinson after picking up my 3 year old son, who loves his orcas. We ran out to the Point, and was greeted by a fellow whale lover. I looked over her shoulder and spotted the first of many whales passing the point. They were further out than usual, but here came our beautiful J34, with a couple of ladies. Moments later, there was a lot of rolling around, and out popped a sea snake...quickly I realized there was some hanky panky going on. I am not exactly sure if it was J34 or L87's, because they were both in my photos and in the area at the time, but I like to think it was J34 getting his groove on, and hoping his genes may be passed on that very day.

Photo by Kelly Burns Keenan, Vashon Island, Puget Sound, December 14, 2016 
In Memoriam: J34 (1998-2016)
How to express this loss of beautiful young J34 Doublestuf? Of course we can only imagine how his mom J22 Oreo must feel from so much tragedy in her small matriline. In the mid 1990s the J10s were a bonded family with mom J10 Tahoma and big brother J18 Everett and sisters J20 Ewok and J22, always close. Then it started, with J20 dying in 1998, leaving her 2-year old J32 Rhapsody to be raised by younger sister J22, followed soon after by losing mom J10 in 1999, and a few months later big brother J18 washed up near Vancouver at 22 years old. J22 became mom and matriarch at that point. Just 2 years ago J32 and her unborn baby were found dead near Comox in Georgia Strait. And now, with J34 gone, only 31-year old J22 and her 13-year old son J38 Cookie remain. They need our help now more than ever. 
Since the death of J1 Ruffles in 2010, J34 was often the most recognizable member of J pod, with his tall, slender, still gently curved dorsal fin with the telltale scallop midway in the trailing edge. At 18 he was still sprouting, still growing that dorsal fin, along with those big pec fins and curled flukes. All of him still had growing to do, including in his readiness to become an adult male in J pod. The science tells us that in accordance with his family's cultural traditions he wasn't old enough to make babies yet, but he was always and forever highly attentive and loyal to his mom. J22 Oreo now has only her young son J38 to raise and to depend on. 
J34 was always a delight to see. We miss him already, and in his honor we'll speak up for his family and try to make our words count. We'll keep talking about restoring high altitude chinook salmon spawning habitat, above the dams that block fish passage and need to be removed, along with every other salmon enhancement effort. We'll keep informing about ways to reduce toxic pollution and acoustic disturbances, and weapons testing, oil and coal shipping, and risk of oil spills. We'll tell all who will listen about all those issues and more, to help and show respect for all the Southern Resident orcas who so desperately need all our help, especially J22, the last mom of the J10s, and her young son. 
Susan Berta & Howard Garrett, Orca Network

J34 with Mt. Baker in the background.
Photo by Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research, February 2016
(Link to CWR Press Release on the death of J34 included in summary) 

J34 breaching.
Photo by Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research, March 2016 

I was out on a boat in September and got to watch Doublestuff actively fishing. I was able to freeze a moment in time, where he looks like he is looking at the boat as he circled after the salmon. It was the last time I saw him.
Photo by Connie Bickerton, September 2016
 (The boat was completely shut down & drifting.Taken with a 400m lens & cropped)

J34 on April 28th, 2016 in Sidney Channel.
Photo by Mark Malleson 

J28 Polaris, J38 Cookie, and J34 DoubleStuf. J54 Dipper was under water tucked between Polaris and DoubleStuf. 4/11/16 Whidbey Island. Who knew that of the 5 whales in this group, 3 would be dead in under 8 months.
Photo by Ariel Yseth, April 11, 2016 

Granny (J2), Oreo (J22), and Doublestuf (J34) last year. (2015)
Photo by Sara Hysong-Shimazu, 2015 

J38 and his big brother J34 off Double Bluff in Admiralty Inlet.
Photo by Susan Berta, Orca Network, January 24, 2014 

One of my favorites of J-34 Doublestuf, taken way back in 2012. He was a big boy even at 14 yrs old. Taken off Fort Casey, Admiralty Inlet.
Photo by Jill Hein, 2012 
Southern Residents
December 24 
Posted 5:05 p.m. - I managed to catch ONE pass-by with the T018/T019 matriline off the west side of San Juan Island today from shore. Now J and K pod are vocalizing on Lime Kiln hydrophone from that very same spot. Southern Residents and Transients in one day?
Heather MacIntyre
4:45 p.m.  tuned in...Js and Ks on the hydrophones.
Alisa Lemire Brooks
4:41 p.m. - Faint calls on Lime Kiln hydrophone!
Jason Lee Bell


December 21 
L087 and J26 west bound off of Victoria on the afternoon of December 21st.
Photo by Mark Malleson 

K36 off of Discovery Island on December 21st.
Photo by Mark Malleson 

 - L87 and J26 -
Js and L87, today, just off of Victoria, headed west.
Photo by Capt Jim Maya, aboard the Peregrine, Maya's Legacy WW,
December 21, 2016 
Bigg's killer whales (and a Buck)
December 24 
I managed to catch ONE pass-by with the T018/T019 matriline off the west side of San Juan Island today from shore. Now J and K pod are vocalizing on Lime Kiln hydrophone from that very same spot. Southern Residents and Transients in one day?
Heather MacIntyre

T019 and her son T019B passing by shore off the west side of San Juan Island.
Photo by Heather MacIntyre, December 24, 2016 

Mother and son, T019 and T019B.
Photo by Heather MacIntyre, December 24, 2016 

T018s in Haro Strait under a rainbow sky.
Photo by Mark Malleson, December 24, 2016 


December 23 
T103 near Race Rocks on December 23rd.
Photo by Mark Malleson 


December 18 
T137 and T137D east bound along the shoreline of East Sooke park on the afternoon of December 18th.
Photo by Mark Malleson, December 18, 2016 

We came across T137A a half mile south of Secretary Island east bound  and eventually spotted the rest of the T137's skulking along the shoreline.  They were headed straight for a swimming buck but passed it by without showing any interest.
Photo by Mark Malleson, December 18, 2016
(The buck made it to shore) 
Unidentified killer whales
December 25 
1:30 p.m. - Orcas were reported in San Juan Channel, across from Friday Harbor near Shaw Island. The report was updated about 2:10 PM to say 7-8 orcas including 3 adult males, now close to Jones Island, still milling and not really traveling anywhere. Called in by Dana Zia.

A member of the pod encountered in San Juan Channel off the west side of Shaw Island
Photo by Dana Zia, December 25, 2016 


December 21 
It's 1:00 and we are watching at least six large orcas between Madrona Beach and Harrington Beach near entrance to Penn Cove...about mid-channel... Appeared to be feeding in a circle at first but now slowly heading north toward Madrona Community Beach.
Vicki Anderson
12:40 p.m. -  They're still off Onamac Point.
Scott Price
12:15 p.m. - Orca - Large POD off of Onamac Point headed North. 7-8 (there were several large males) Traveling very slow.
Michael Wade
12.10 p.m. -  Blows and breach off Onamac Point Camano, heading north Seen from Hidden Beach.
Sandra Pollard
10:00 a.m. - Orca Sighting - First day of Winter, slightly after 10:00 a.m. South side of Camano Head, directly across from Langley. Pod of 10+ (including 1 adult male)  heading north along Camano's shoreline.
Mj Walline-Sawyer
10:00 a.m. - Pod (4-5 including one male) was traveling north in Saratoga Passage, close to Camano shoreline and then crossed west heading toward the entrance to Holmes Harbor. First Orca sighting for visiting granddaughter.
Bob Anderson


December 20 
4:40 p.m. - In the waning light fins are now south of Double Bluff and the green traffic buoy and are oriented east, as if headed toward Possession Sound. There have been many spyhops, but no other surface activity.
Howard Garrett
4:00 pm - spotted a vigorous tail slap as 2/3 whales were heading towards green traffic buoy, and appeared to be foraging.
Sandra Pollard
3:00 p.m. - There are 6-7 in front of Windmill Heights milling around looks like they're feeding some spyhops. heading South slowly.
Dennis Allen
2:46 p.m.  - At least 10-15 including 3 adult males traveling south mid channel but on the Whidbey side off Mutiny Bay.
Photo by Howard Garrett, Orca Network
(image taken from 3-4 miles away, heavily cropped) 

2:25 p.m - at least 6 backlit blows and fins, apparently heading south, including one male, were seen by Sandra Pollard and Dick Snowberger from the north end of Mutiny Bay, looking west.


December 17 
Adding to Saturday's sightings.  I was at Camano Island State Park Dec 17 around 3:00. I had binoculars and saw what could only be a spy hop, and lots of splashing, across the water.  Saw your report and looked up Bells Beach area. That's where I saw the activity.  I didn't see any boats nearby.
Joanne Repman, Camano Island 
Coastal killer whales
December 18 
Orca Sighting - I was fishing aboard the California Dawn out of Berkeley, CA yesterday (12/18/2016 01:30 PM) and we saw a small pod of 3-4 orca just outside of the Golden Gate. They were swimming and breaching for several minutes before they disappeared underwater.
Daniel Stamos  
Humpback whales
December 26 
12:45 p.m. - Just had a fisherman come in saying he saw a whale near Pt. Defiance just now. He claimed it was a humpback.
Andrew Potter Maul


December 24 
We saw it come straight up at 1:15. Appeared to be feeding. West of the (Tacoma) yacht club. Haven't seen it since.
Cathy Baker
12:25 pm - A small humpback has been fluking up in Commencement Bay, off Owen Beach, near the port of Tacoma, called in by Janet Bissell.


December 22 
Small humpback feeding between Pt Defiance and Narrows Bridge for several hours midday today. It was great, we saw spouts, flukes, and many dives.
Melissa Clarke


December 18 
3:49 p.m. - Just saw it from Point Ruston walkway heading towards downtown!
Diann Sheldon
10:45 a.m. - Just passing very near navigation beacon Point Defiance at 1045, still northbound.
Michele Riley Campbell
10:20 a.m. - Humpback just went past Salmon Beach (near Narrows Bridge in Tacoma). Travelling north.
Zeno Martin  
Gray whales
December 23 
Had a message from WA State Ferries, relaying a report from the Captain of the ferry Klahowya on the Lopez/Orcas/San Juan Island run of a small Gray whale seen at 1:25 pm just off Bright Head, heading NE.  
Rafting sea lions
December 17 
Nice gathering and example of rafting sea lions in Carr Inlet, Puget Sound.
Photo by Robert Kellogg, December 17, 2016 

Orca Network is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization, dedicated to raising awareness about the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats.

Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network involves citizens in helping researchers track the movement of whales, and encourages people to observe whales from their homes, businesses, ferries, and beaches.
Whale reports are sent in to our Sighting Network and emailed out to researchers, agencies, and citizens on our network, and posted on our website (MAP of sightings also on website). Whale reports and observations are sent in by a variety of sources, and Orca Network does not guarantee the accuracy of any report or whale identification.



TO REPORT WHALES, CALL: 1-866-ORCANET (1-866-672-2638), email, or post sightings on our Orca Network Facebook page.



 "The new rules prohibit vessels from approaching any killer whale closer than 200 yards and forbid vessels from intercepting a whale or positioning the vessel in its path. This doubles the current approach distance of 100 yards. The rules go into effect May 16 and apply to all types of boats, including motor boats, sail boats and kayaks, in Washington"

For more information on the Federal Regulations, visit the NOAA Fisheries website. 


To report harassment of whales in US waters, call NOAA Enforcement: 1-800-853-1964;

In Canadian waters, call DFO's Observe Record and Report (ORR) Violations Hotline: 1-800- 465-4336

Report the boat name &/or a description of the boat, & get photos/video if at all possible.