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Orca Network presents Welcome the Whales event on Zoom


Last updated 4/2/2021 at 2:35pm

Photo courtesy of Jill Hein

Gray whales Shackleton and Earhart

The Orca Network will be presenting its Welcome to the Whales Festival on April 16-17 on Zoom.

Each year, beginning in February and March, a small population of gray whales returns to North Puget Sound to feed on ghost shrimp for several months before continuing their migration north to the Arctic. Some of these individuals have been coming here for over 30 years.

The ghost shrimp buried in the tidal flats around Whidbey, Camano, and Hat/Gedney Islands, and nearby beaches, are a significant source of food for these whales. This has become even more apparent in recent years, during an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event (UME) that has already claimed almost 25% of the gray whale population.

As of last spring, all of the Sounders had survived the UME and returned to Puget Sound, along with some new individuals who discovered the area in recent years. A few individuals even stayed year-round instead of migrating to their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico.

To date in 2021, 10 of the Sounders have arrived and are actively feeding on ghost shrimp. Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network assists in the research on these gray whales by collecting and sharing sightings with Cascadia Research.

If you see a whale (of any kind) report it to [email protected], 1-866-ORCANET, or through the Orca Network Facebook page.

Festival schedule

Friday April 16th, 6 – 8 p.m. Art Night Fundraiser for Orca Network on Zoom – Learn how to make a Zentangle gray whale with instructor Jeanne Hamilton. Zentangle is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful patterns using a series of repetitive and mindfully placed pen strokes. Fee - $25

Saturday April 17th, 3 – 5 p.m. The Zoom festival will begin with a Wishing Whale dedication, followed by a virtual parade, virtual whale watch, educational videos about gray whales, and a research webinar with special guest speakers John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research Collective, Holly Fearnbach of SR3, and John Durban of Southall Environmental Associates. The day will close with a hosted Spyhoppy Hour to visit and share stories. 


Pre-registration is required for both events at

Participate in the virtual parade by taking a picture of yourself and family (including your pets) dressed as your favorite animal. Or, make a sign to welcome the gray whales. Look for online costume-making ideas on our Facebook pages. Photos can be sent to Susan Berta at [email protected]

Learn more about the Sounders and other Salish Sea whales by visiting the Langley Whale Center at 105 Anthes. See the center's Facebook page at page for current hours, or call 360-221-7505 to schedule a private tour.

More details and registration information for Welcome the Whales can be found on Orca Network's website at www

Learn how to Share the Water

The Orca Network presents a Whale Safe Vessel Project webinar to learn how to be a responsible watercraft operator around gray whales and other baleen whales.

The Share the Water – Whale Safe Vessel Project was launched in July 2020 as a way to increase education and outreach to help the public adopt safe etiquette when around whales on the water. By educating and engaging vessel operators the Orca Network believe they will be motivated to be more careful boaters, and inspired to learn more and take action to help the whales of the Salish Sea. As a part of this project the Orca Network is offering a series of webinars featuring guest speakers from around the region.

Photo courtesy of Cindy Hansen


On April 7 at 7 p.m. the organization will be hosting its third Share the Water educational webinar, this time in partnership with Seattle Maritime Academy. The focus will be on baleen whales, which, although large, can sometimes be difficult to spot. Attendees will learn about the biology of these whales as well as some regulatory information and how to share the water with whale neighbors. Speakers include Alisa Lemire Brooks of Orca Network, Marine Naturalist Stephanie Raymond, and Robert Reeder of the Seattle Maritime Academy.

Register for the Zoom webinar at

For more information contact Alisa Lemire Brooks at [email protected]

The Share the Water project is part of Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network. Reporting any whale sightings to the Whale Sighting Network at 866-ORCANET or [email protected]


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