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Here’s where you’ll find news about orcas, marine mammals and the marine environment, from around the Pacific Northwest, and the world.

Have a story we missed? Tell us! Send your link, article or idea to

Active Orcas in Active Pass

It’s superpod season in the Pacific Northwest!  J and K pods were in Active Pass on August 9th, filmed by Galiano resident Gary Cullen. We are thrilled to welcome Galiano to The Whale Trail, and this video shows why!

Thanks to Gary for filming this spectacular encounter—check those synchronized spyhops towards the end!—and to Mike Hoebel for sharing it with us.

Southern Residents Almost All Accounted for

The Center for Whale Research reports to Chris Dunagan that the southern resident orcas have all been accounted for this summer, with the exception of subpod L-54.

Assuming that the L-54s show up soon, this is good news for this endangered population. With four new calves added over the winter, there are currently 82 individuals in J, K and L pods. That is still far below the number they need to recover –  let’s hope the uptick turns into a trend!

Read more about it here.

Sanctuaries Expand

NOAA announced significant expansions of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries today.

Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries off northern California will both more than double in size following a final rule released today by NOAA. The expansion will help to protect the region’s marine and coastal habitats, biological resources and special ecological features.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, will expand from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuarywill expand from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles of ocean and coastal waters.” (NOAA)

Learn more here.

A Tale of Two Otters, Leo Shaw, 4/30

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River Otter (photo by Leo Shaw)


What is the difference between a sea otter and a river otter? Where do they live, what do they eat, and what role do humans play in their environment? Join us to learn about these fascinating and playful creatures who share our shores.

Leo Shaw will discuss the natural history of river and sea otters in North America, with a special focus on the river otters of West Seattle! His talk will cover human interactions, population swings, social structure, anatomy and physiology  food preferences, legal status, and current threats.

Buy tickets early to reserve your seat. And hurry! This will sell out.

A Tale of Two Sea Otters – Natural History of River Otters and Sea Otters
Presentation by Leo Shaw
When: Thursday, April 30th, 7PM, Doors open 6:15
Where: C&P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW
Cost: $5 suggested donation. (Kids get in free!)
Advance tickets: brown paper

This is the next in a series Orca Talks hosted by The Whale Trail in West Seattle. The event also features updates from Seal Sitters, and Diver Laura James ( You otter be there!

About the Speaker

Leo Shaw is a zoologist who served as a Marine Education Specialist with the Seattle Aquarium from 1977 to 2005. Now retired, he continues to work part-time on Beach Naturalist and Citizen Science programs for the Aquarium.

Leo was a board member of the American Cetacean Society Seattle Chapter in the 1980s. He currently volunteers as Science and Education Advisor for Seal Sitters, and as a marine-mammal expert for The Whale Trail. 

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Sea Otter and Pup (Photo by Leo Shaw)


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