whale watching | KNKX

whale watching

In this July 31, 2015 photo, one orca whale swims along as another leaps out of the water near a whale watching boat whose passengers happen to be looking the other way in the Salish Sea in the San Juan Islands, Wash.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Despite the happy news that Puget Sound’s Southern Resident killer whales welcomed two new babies to the J-pod last month, their population remains at risk, with just 74 left in the wild.

A new licensing requirement for commercial whale watch boats is expected to start next year.  It aims to reduce noise and other stress that could be impacting them, by regulating the numbers of boats allowed in proximity of the Southern Residents as well as when and how long the whales can be watched.

A whale watching boat, from a distance, watches one of several transient killer whales during a whale watching trip last month.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Experts and enthusiasts agree, whether on water or on land: it’s difficult to describe the feeling people get in the presence of orcas.

“I wish you could bottle what happens when people see whales,” said Donna Sandstrom, while passing out binoculars to passersby in West Seattle. “The sheer joy and the awe is always moving.”

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

A de facto ban on whale watching boats that would have required them to stay 650 yards away from endangered Puget Sound orcas for three to five years has been stripped from revised legislation. The compromise goes against a recommendation from Gov. Jay Inslee’s Orca Recovery Task Force.

In Olympia, state lawmakers are considering stronger protections for the critically endangered population of resident killer whales.

Photo by David Ellifrit/ / Center for Whale Research

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.

Mike Baird / Flickr

The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is one of the best times of the year to watch grey whales migrating along the Oregon coast. It's the height of their annual southbound trek from Alaska to Baja, California.

Here are three tips to help better your chances of spotting a grey whale.

Paula Wissel

When you think of going whale watching, you probably envision taking a boat. But there’s a place on San Juan Island that’s considered one of the best places in the world to see killer whales from shore.

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.