If you wondered what a gathering of humans excitedly pointing towards Puget Sound with cameras and binoculars were doing at Burien’s Three Tree Point on Tuesday night, May 23, 2023, don’t worry – they were all watching a pod of orca whales pass by.
The pod was traveling northbound along the Vashon side of Puget Sound’s East Passage, while the humans were mostly pointing westward.
Later on, some of the same orca watchers caught glimpses of the whales from the Fauntleroy ferry terminal right around sunset.
“There were at least five orcas present (someone said they counted six) and they are thought to be transients,” said orca fan Amy Webb. “The biggest, most commonly mentioned difference between transients and southern residents is that transients eat marine mammals and residents eat mainly Chinook salmon. One of them was identified as possibly being T124D, who is a 27-year-oold female. No bulls appeared to be present.”
“I’m assuming they scored a meal sometime before this encounter as I saw a lot of tail slapping, one full breach and a few partial breaches. This is playful behavior which occurs normally, but especially after securing a full belly. Just a guess, of course.”
Webb encourages fellow whale fans to follow the Orca Network on Facebook, which posts a baleen whale thread and an orca thread when there are sightings, which include multiple posts every day this time of year.
“Folks comment on the posts as they see the whales, and this is how I knew where to look for them,” Webb said. “I always keep a bag loaded with camera, binoculars, and blanket by the front door for this reason…”
To view a slideshow of photos courtesy Webb and Maureen Hoffmann, click on the arrows:
If you’d like to learn more about the Orca Network, below is their website linking to a page on transients: