Southern Residents Finally Return!

On July 5th J and K pods finally returned to the inland waters of Washington after an unprecedented absence. Thrilling whale watchers on boats and on shore, the killer whales spent most of the day shuffling back and forth on the west side of San Juan Island before making a trip north towards the mouth of the Fraser River.

A long-time Whale Scout volunteer naturalist named Michelle Borsz Kuntz, who moved home to Ohio but happened to be on San Juan Island for her honeymoon, captured this video taken from shore at Lime Kiln State Park.

Those of us who follow the whales’ movements and stories excitedly awaited news of any new calves, and to hear how all the members of each pod were doing. The Center for Whale Research announced that the newest J pod calf originally spotted off Tofino was present and is in fact a female! J31 Tsuchi was determined to be the mother. Sadly, J17 Princess Angeline and K25 Scoter, who both had been in poor physical condition, were not seen by the Center or other observers with their respective pods. While they have not been pronounced dead, their outlook was reported as “grim.”

J31 Tsuchi and her ~2 month old daughter J56 on July 7 passing Lime Kiln Lighthouse. Photo taken from shore and cropped.

J and K pods left the inland waters after only a couple days. Without enough salmon in the area to sustain them, the whales must move on to find the fish. This area of the San Juan Islands is where the whales would typically be feeding on salmon returning to spawn in the Fraser River in B.C. Those runs have suffered significant losses over the years.

Salmon habitat restoration continues to be an important factor in keeping these whales alive, healthy, and returning to their “usual” habitats. We anxiously await the return of L pod, and with them we hope for more good news to share.

Q13 News: Southern Resident killer whales missing from the Salish Sea

Unprecedented – no Southern Resident killer whales seen in the inland waters of WA or B.C. for eight weeks. That’s most of May and all of June which is branded Orca Action Month.

“The absence of Southern Residents tells us that the ecosystem is out of balance,” Said Whitney Neugebauer, the director of Whale Scout. “We should be listening and responding appropriately. If the whales can’t make a living in our inland waters, we, too, are in trouble.”

Read and watch the full story with Simone Del Rosario here.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse Centennial Celebration!

Erin Corra from FOLKS (Friends of Lime Kiln Society) gives us all the details for the party of the century on San Juan Island. The final event of Orca Month, June 30th, 2019 will mark exactly 100 years since the Lime Kiln Lighthouse was first lit June 30th, 1919! More information from the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau. More information from FOLKS.

Director Co-Authors Blog: Everything is connected from the tree tops to the whales’ flukes

How is your work as a volunteer supporting the health of our local Southern Resident orcas?

This is a question we should be considering, especially during June, which is Orca Action Month. Recent media stories have highlighted the plight of our Southern Resident orcas and describe how they are struggling to survive. Understanding how our collective actions and efforts are connected to the health of these whales, the salmon they depend on and the ecosystems that support all of us – its important to remain focused and hopeful for the future.

Read the full blog here.

Job Opening: Summer Internships

Whale Scout, a nonprofit organization based in King County, Washington is looking for summer interns to assist with salmon habitat restoration and outreach/educational activities with the public. Dedicated to protecting Pacific Northwest whales through land-based conservation experiences, Whale Scout takes a boots-on-the-ground approach to recovering endangered Southern Resident killer whales and the salmon they rely upon. This internship will offer the opportunity to learn not just about killer whales but about salmon habitat, native vegetation, communication, community building, and non-profit organizational management. It will also offer those 18 and older time in the field and experience educating the public including diverse kids and families. The internship will also include opportunities to participate in day trips to San Juan Island and local Puget Sound beaches to facilitate educational land-based whale watching opportunities. Two positions are available lasting 10 weeks with a $1,000 stipend to cover travel and associated expenses. Application due June 15th.

  • Description of Responsibilities

Summer watering and maintenance of newly planted native vegetation at restoration sites within King County

Outreach performing educational activities working with kids and families in King County

Land-based whale watching with the public at Puget Sound beaches and day trips to San Juan Island (3-5) as part of the San Juan Island Naturalist Program

Data entry and some administration tasks

Participation in educational field trips

Capstone project of the interns choice which may include a paper, presentation, or video, etc.

  • Benefits

$1,000 stipend to cover the cost of travel and associated expenses

Continuing educational opportunities including field trips

Networking opportunities

Experience working with diverse communities

Experience doing habitat restoration

Upon successful completion of internship a letter of recommendation for future positions

  • Desired start date

June 21st

  • Timeline

Applications due: June 15th

Interviews: June 18 – 19th

Internship June 21 – August 31st

  • Commitment

Commitment 20 hours per week (approx).

Schedule will vary and include some weekends

  • Skills and Qualifications

Computer skills – use of Google products such as Google calendar, Google docs, Google sheets. Must have access to a computer/internet/email regularly

Be able to lift 40 lbs

Interest in teaching a diverse group of students both in and out of the classroom.

Proven personal initiative and ability to multitask, prioritize, use good judgement, problem solve, and work effectively both independently and as a team in a fast-paced environment.

Ability to hike several miles and serve outdoors in all weather conditions.

Demonstrated written and oral communication skills and detail-oriented organizational skills.

Must be at least 18 years old on first day of internship

Must provide personal transportation to sites across King County and Anacortes, Wa. Travel to south Puget Sound and Mount Vernon for a field trips.

Must possess a valid driver’s license

Must successfully pass a criminal history background check.

Must be a U.S. citizen, national or lawful permanent resident alien.

Willingness to store teaching some teaching materials at home.

Some basic knowledge of Pacific Northwest ecosystems, flora and fauna.

Willingness to learn more about the threats and science regarding Southern Resident killer whales

Housing not provided.

To apply, go to:

New Calf in J Pod Kicks off Orca Action Month on a High Note!

Just announced on May 31st, a new calf has been spotted with J pod! The Whale Centre found J pod whales off Tofino on May 30th and photographed a young calf with the typical orange coloration on the white patches. Photos were sent to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada and the Center for Whale Research that provided the following statement:

“…Researchers at the CWR have confirmed that the calf is a new addition, and based on its coloration and body condition was likely born some time in the last 1 to 3 weeks. The calf was photographed in association with several J pod females, including J31, J46, andJ40. More field observations are needed to confirm the identity of the calf’s mother.

Prior to 2019, the Southern Resident killer whale population had no documented successful births since 2016. This calf marks the second birth of 2019, following L124 in January.”

Photo Credit: John Forde and Jennifer Steven

June is Orca Action Month in the Pacific Northwest and the Orca Salmon Alliance is looking forward to all kinds of activities throughout the region. From film screenings to talks and presentations on ferries, beach clean ups, and even Raffi, live in concert! We’re starting Orca Action Month the best way we know how, by Helpin’ Out Friends of North Creek Forest restore an urban forest in Bothell, Wa.

Next, come party at the Orca Month kickoff event June 2nd at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. This free, family-friendly festival will feature live music performances by Dana Lyons, DJs including KEXP’s Michele Myers, art activities, an Orca Sound station, storytelling, food, drinks, a beer garden, “orca chats,” and more! RSVP on Facebook to be entered to win an orca swag bag!

With the theme, Hungry for Change, we hope you will join us this month (and every month) to make the needed changes for the orcas to survive and recover. Find out how you can help everyday reviewing our list of personal actions, and watching for our upcoming action alert, uniting our Pacific Northwest community behind positive change for the Southern Resident orcas.

Here are just a few of the events you can attend to learn more:

June 7th – Dammed to Extinction Film Screening, Seattle

June 9th – Whales in Your Neighborhood, Lincoln Park, Seattle and various OR and WA sites

June 22nd and 23rd – Orca Awareness Weekend at the Seattle Aquarium

June 28th – Kids for Orcas on various ferries in WA

June 30th – Lime Kiln Lighthouse Centennial Celebration

View details and a complete listing of events here.

Now that the legislative session is over, where do the Orca Task Force recommendations stand? Has progress been made? The BOLD team has the answers in this easy-to-read scorecard.

Now that the legislative session is over, where do the Orca Task Force recommendations stand? Has progress been made? The BOLD team has the answers in this easy-to-read scorecard.

Thank you to everyone who’s been following and engaging with their legislators to help critical bills get passed! There is still more work to be done in a lot of areas as you will find out in this report particularly in funding salmon habitat projects.

GIVE BIG May 8th and DOUBLE your impact!

The Seattle-area’s largest day of charitable giving is May 8th! Thanks to the support of a generous donor, every donation given through Give Big will be matched dollar for dollar up to $1,000! Beat the rush and schedule your donation today! Donate here.

Hear from our supporters why they decided to Give Big to Whale Scout and help support their campaigns. Laurie, Donna, and Bryan tell their personal stories below.