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Orca Pods Expected To Arrive In Puget Sound Soon

Photo by David Ellifrit/
Center for Whale Research
Baby orca, J53, with presumed mother, J17.

Keep your eyes peeled for killer whales. The orca pods that spend the summer in the San Juan Islands are expected to show up in Puget Sound any moment now. That’s according to the Orca Network, which tracks the killer whales via a network of volunteer spotters.

The Orca Network’s Howard Garrett says this event happens every October. The Orca pods, after feeding on their preferred Chinook salmon, chase their second food choice, chum salmon. As they follow the chum runs, they travel down Admiralty Inlet into Puget Sound.

He says the orcas can typically can be seen near West Seattle, south of Vashon Island and in the waters off Point Defiance and Gig Harbor.

There's been a bit of an orca baby boom. Garrett says it is exciting.

"Six new ones this year," he said.

But, he cautions that the Southern Resident orcas, which are listed as an endangered species, are still in trouble.

“Over the past three years, there’ve been 16 deaths out of the community, so it’s still an uphill climb to replenish the population,” Garrett said.

He says the orcas are pretty much on the move 24 hours a day, stopping only briefly to forage for fish. Between October and mid-December, they often spend one or two days at a time in Puget Sound.

Garrett says the best way to follow the sightings of orcas is on the Orca Network's Facebook page.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
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