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Whale watchers at Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island sighting members of the J and K pods of southern resident orcas on Friday July 5th after an absence of nearly 8 weeks.
Jeanne Hyde / Whale of a Purpose Blog

Whale scientists have spotted several Southern Resident orcas off the west side of San Juan Island, in Haro Strait. The sighting comes after an unprecedented absence that had many worried.  

Westridge Marine Terminal of the Trans Mountain pipeline in the suburb of Vancouver.
Craig McCulloch / KNKX

The TransCanada pipeline and opponents have filed their final submissions to Canada’s energy regulator. This second review of the proposed pipeline expansion, which would see dramatically increased oil tankers in the Salish Sea, was ordered by a court last year.

In this Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) a new baby orca swims alongside an adult whale, believed to be its mother, about 15 miles off the coast of Westport, Wash.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Candice Emmons / AP Photo

Environmental law in the U.S. regulates pollution, but often doesn’t protect the things we love.  A movement to change that by securing so-called "rights of nature" is taking hold globally – and locally, too.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

The state’s Orca Recovery Task Force will deliver its final recommendations to Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday. Among the controversial items on the list is a last-minute proposal for a temporary ban on whale watching tours near the endangered Southern Resident orcas.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife suggested it as an alternative to a no-go zone west of San Juan Island. It’s proposed to last three to five years.  

But some whale-watch companies are concerned it would create false impressions about their industry.

Katy Foster / NOAA Fisheries

Federal scientists and tribal fishermen have been preparing to take unprecedented action to help an ailing orca whale – if they ever see her again.

Boats have to stay 200 yards away from the Northwest’s endangered resident killer whales. But what if one of those boaters launches an aerial drone to take better pictures from closer up?

It's not a theoretical question. And the answer is not as clear as law enforcement would like.

David Neiwert

If you ever thought of Puget Sound Orcas as some kind of magical being, you’re not alone. A new book by local author and investigative journalist David Neiwert details some of their most impressive qualities.

Of Orcas and Men –What Killerwhales Can Teach Us weaves personal narratives with the latest science.

AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries Service, Candice Emmons

Following the release of a federal report on the state of endangered orcas, one local researcher says there's one factor that matters more to the whales' wellness than toxins and vessel traffic: fish. 

Ken Balcomb, who many regard as the godfather of whale conservation, is the director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor. For almost 40 years now, the center has been keeping track of every individual whale in the three pods that make up the southern resident population of the iconic orcas that live in Puget Sound.

The Associated Press

More than a dozen killer whales swimming past West Seattle gave residents a spectacular sight Monday as the sun set.

James Maya / Maya's Westside Charters

Researchers in the San Juan Islands say the survival of older female Orcas, after they go through menopause, helps younger males stay alive longer.

That might not surprise many humans, but scientists well-versed in the behavior of Orca whales say it’s a relatively new conclusion. And, in many species, females don’t live long after the end of their reproductive life.

James Maya / Maya's Westside Charters

James Maya, a ship captain and owner of a whale watching company, took these photos of an orca breaching on Monday off South Beach on San Juan Island.

He said this was the only whale breach that evening and he just happened to have his camera at the ready. These breaches are not uncommon, he added.

“Sometimes they just go crazy,” he said. 

Andrew Reding / Flickr

A boater who was caught by the Coast Guard too close to Puget Sound killer whales won't be penalized, but next  summer violators could be fined thousands of dollars.

Center for Whale Research

BREMERTON, Wash. — A newborn orca calf has been reported off the west side of San Juan Island in the Puget Sound.

The Center for Whale Research reports the new calf was first spotted midday Monday among the adults of J pod, one of three killer whale pods that frequent Puget Sound.

Columbia University/Earth Institute

Updated 6/18/12, with comments and links from whale advocates.

An expensive science mission off the Washington and Oregon coasts has been scaled back, at least for now, out of concern for orca whales. A research ship is using blasts of sound to create maps of a major earthquake fault, which is considered the greatest tsunami risk along the U.S. Pacific coast.

An all-white orca has been spotted by scientists during a research cruise off the eastern coast of Russia, near the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands in the North Pacific, reports ABC news. The scientists have named the orca Iceberg.

“It is a breathtakingly beautiful animal,” Eric Hoyt, one of the scientists, told the AFP. “If we can get a full close-up of the eyes and they are pink, it would confirm Iceberg is an albino, but we don’t know much about albinism in orcas.”

Dyanna Lambourn / WDFW

The bruised and bloody carcass of an endangered killer whale washed ashore at Long Beach, Wash., this weekend. An initial necropsy did not pinpoint a cause of death.

This week , federal biologists will cast off on a research cruise from NOAA's new homeport in Newport, Oregon. They hope to crack an enduring mystery about some of the most studied killer whales on earth. Namely, where do the Northwest's resident orca whales go in the winter?

Every winter, the three pods of orca whales that call Northwest waters home just disappear into the wild blue yonder. Research biologist Dawn Noren and colleagues from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center are about to embark on a three-week mission to find them.

DeWaine Tollefsrud / Flikr

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Three killer whales have made an unusual trek up the Nushagak River in southwest Alaska.

NOAA Fisheries-Alaska region spokeswoman Julie Speegle says residents have seen killer whales at the mouth of the river, but never this far upriver.

The Seattle Times reports that a whale reported to have been struck by a boat on the west side of San Juan Island might simply be pregnant.

Orca whales swimming
The Associated Press

Scientists have a new concern about the killer whales that spend their summer in the Puget Sound. The orcas have been breeding within their own family groups, which may mean the population is more fragile than scientists thought.

Associated Press

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – A newborn calf has been spotted among one of the pods of killer whales returning to the Puget Sound.

Going on a whale watching tour is a popular activity in the border waters between Washington State and British Columbia. New rules that take effect  Monday require vessels to give a wider berth to the iconic resident killer whales. KPLU's Tom Banse reports from one of the home ports of the whale watching fleet, in Victoria.

Soundwatch

Next time you go whale watching on Puget Sound, be sure to take your binoculars. Soon, you’ll have to stay twice as far from the endangered killer whales as before. 

Mark Malleson / Courtesy of orcanetwork.org

The oldest and perhaps most-recognizable of the local killer whales is missing and researchers fear he may have died over the winter.

The orca known to researchers as J-1 was last seen on November 21st near Victoria, B.C. Also known as “Ruffles,” for the wavy edge to his distinctive six-foot-tall dorsal fin, J-1 was believed to be about 60 years old. He was one of the first individual orcas to be identified by researchers in the early 19-70s.