February on The Whale Trail


Whale Trail Sign at Cambria

Hard to believe it’s the middle of February already! Wanted to catch you all up on what we have been up to.

Inauguration of Central Coast Whale Trail signs

The most recent and southernmost leg of The Whale Trail was launched in January, with events including a kickoff in San Simeon, a movie at Hearst Castle Discovery Center, and a proclamation from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. We loved seeing the Whale Trail signs at Cambria, San Simeon, Cayucos, Avila, and Oceano Nipomo. We missed getting to Montana de Oro State Park (Los Osos Baywood) – a great reason to go back!

The central California coast is stunning, and a great place to watch marine mammals! From shore, March and April are best months to see gray whales on their northbound migrations, and humpbacks are increasingly seen in the summer. We visited Piedras Blancas, where more than 7000 elephant seals were hauled out, including 700 new pups! Amazing to see, especially just steps away from Highway 1.

Thanks to CA Highway One Discovery Route, Stewardship Travel, and everyone who had a hand in bringing The Whale Trail to SLO. 

Orca Talks

We’ve set dates and speakers for our next Orca Talks!

  • Dave Bain will talk about the Barnes Lake Killer Whale Rescue on February 23 (buy tickets here).
  • Jeannette Dorner will update us about salmon  recovery efforts in the central Sound on March 30 (C&P Coffee, tickets coming soon)
  • John Calambokidis will share the latest about humpbacks and gray whales on April 20. (Dakota Place, tickets coming soon)

NOAA Orca News

  • Whale Protection Zone.  NOAA Fisheries has received a petition to establish a protection zone on the west side of San Juan Island, and has asked for public input. With the SRKW population at just 78 and trending in the wrong direction, this is an important step to giving the whales the acoustic space they need to forage, socialize and rest, in a critical part of their range. Please add your voice for the whales. Comments are due by April 23. Read more here
  • NOAA 5-yr Recovery Plan Review.  NOAA has completed a review of the status of the Southern Residents and progress toward meeting the recovery criteria identified in the recovery plan. The recommended classification is for Southern Resident killer whales to remain the same: Endangered. Read more here.

New Washington Signs

I’m writing from the train, headed to Olympia for meetings with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. We’ve received a grant to add three new signs a year, for the next three years!  If you’d like your site to be considered for a sign, please get in touch: donna@thewhaletrail .org.

See you on The Whale Trail!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Donna's Bio

Donna Sandstrom has been interested in orcas since 1982, when she moved to Seattle. She saw her first orca from the deck of the Gikumi in Johnstone Strait in 1985.

Over the next years she produced events like OrcaFest 1995, and a symposium "Lolita Come Home" in 1996. She is expert at bringing diverse people together to achieve a common goal, a skill honed during her 14 years in software development at Adobe Systems.

In 2002, Donna was part of the effort to return Springer, an orphaned orca, to her pod and native waters on the north end of Vancouver Island. The project is the only successful orca rehabilitation in history. In July 2013, Springer was seen with her first calf!

Inspired by Springer's success, and alarmed at the plight of the southern resident orcas, Donna started The Whale Trail in 2008. Contact her at donna@thewhaletrail.org. 206.919.5397

The Whale Trail is a nonprofit organization in partnership with
Partners NOAA Seattle Aquarium People for Puget Sound Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife The Whale Museum National Marine Sanctuaries