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Orca Tour 2015 with Erich Hoyt

IC3W1250_Iceberg©2012_E_Lazareva, Far East Russia Orca Project

Iceberg©2012E_Lazareva, Far East Russia Orca Project


September 10, 2015

Donna Sandstrom, The Whale Trail, (206) 919-5397
Mike Sato, (206) 229-2844, [to interview Erich Hoyt] 


Internationally-renowned author and killer whale expert Erich Hoyt will speak in October along the Whale Trail at locations in British Columbia and Puget Sound. 

“Orca Tour 2015” celebrates the seasonal return of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales to central Puget Sound and builds awareness of the whales throughout their range in the Salish Sea and along the Pacific Coast. This transboundary tour is especially timely with the birth of the fifth calf in the Southern Resident Killer Whale pods since December 2014.

“The birth of five new calves in J, K and L pods gives us five more reasons to recover this population. The collaborative nature of the Orca Tour demonstrates our shared commitment to restore salmon, reduce toxins and create quieter seas,” said Donna Sandstrom, founder and director of The Whale Trail.

Organized by The Whale Trail and local sponsoring organizations, Hoyt’s talks are scheduled for:

·      Oct. 3– Saturna BC. “Creatures of the Deep” hosted by Saturna Island Marine Research & Education Society and sponsored by the Capital Regional District at the Saturna Community Hall;

·      Oct. 6– Sidney BC. “Adventures with Orcas in the North Pacific” hosted by Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and Raincoast Conservation Foundation at the Centre;  

·      Oct. 10– Olympia WA. “Adventures with Orcas in the North Pacific” hosted by The Whale Trail at the Olympia Friends Meeting Hall;

·      Oct. 11– Tacoma WA. “Adventures with Orcas in the North Pacific” hosted by Citizens for a Healthy Bay at the UW Carwein Hall; and

·      Oct. 13– Seattle WA. “Ants, Orcas and Creatures of the Deep” hosted by The Whale Trail at the Hall at Fauntleroy in West Seattle.

Tickets for the Washington talks are available through Brown Paper Tickets, (search Erich Hoyt). Tickets for the Saturna talk are available at the door for $10; call the Centre (250.665.7511) for Sidney ticket information.

Erich Hoyt’s first killer whale expedition to Johnstone Strait sailed from Victoria, BC in June 1973. He proceeded to spend parts of the next 10 summers with orcas, culminating in his now classic book Orca: The Whale Called Killer. He is the author of 22 books including The Earth Dwellers and Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. His most recent book is the greatly expanded Creatures of the Deep, with state-of-the-art photographs and stories of amazing species new to science. 

In 1999 Hoyt, a Whale and Dolphin Conservation Research Fellow, co-founded the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) to learn more about orca pods targeted for aquarium captures and to get Russian students involved in science and conservation of killer whales in Russian waters. Now in its 15th year, FEROP has recorded the Russian pods and photo-IDed some 1500 orcas off Kamchatka and in the Commander Islands — including three white orcas found so far in the study areas.

“We are living in an era and in a part of the world where whale research has exploded,” said Hoyt. “And we’ve got some amazing orca stories to tell here—mostly positive, some heartbreaking, but all compelling.”

“Orca Tour 2015” celebrates the growing transboundary success and collaboration between British Columbia organizations and The Whale Trail — a model for conservation everywhere. The Whale Trail is working closely with the BC Cetacean Sightings Network and other groups to add new Whale Trail sites from Victoria to Prince Rupert. 

Interpretive panels will be installed at five locations this fall, and 30 sites in the southern Gulf Island will be marked with distinctive Whale Trail markers. East Point, Saturna Island was the first BC Whale Trail site, and the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney is the most recent.

“The Centre serves to inform people about the Salish Sea and our keystone mammal– the orca,” said Mark Loria, executive director of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. “Erich is an important figure in the world of orca conservation and protection and he will have much to share with our members and the public. Our partnership with Raincoast Conservation Foundation serves to strengthen our efforts in public programs and initiatives.”

“Erich is such a knowledgeable speaker about the sea. He clearly has a deep love for all that lives in there and it sparkles through in his talks,” said Maureen Welton of the Saturna Island Marine Research & Education Society. “He told us his exciting orca stories last year and we’ve brought him back to talk about the unusual, little known species in the sea. His book is fascinating and we know his talk will be, too.”

In Tacoma, The Whale Trail is partnering with Citizens of the Bay. “We are so lucky to live in a place as beautiful as the Puget Sound with animals as fascinating as orcas,” said executive director Melissa Malott.  “Orca populations are a great representation of the health of the Puget Sound, which we at Citizens for a Healthy Bay are working to protect.  We are excited to have Erich Hoyt speak to learn more about these amazing creatures and our environment.”  

“The Whale Trail and its partners in British Columbia and Washington State share a deep commitment to marine education, conservation and the recovery of the southern resident killer whales,” said Donna Sandstrom, founder and director of The Whale Trail. “Erich is a legend and an inspiration. We are thrilled to bring him back to the northwest, and provide our communities with the incredible opportunity to hear from him first-hand.” 

Orca Tour 2015 marks an historic return to Olympia, where Erich gave his first presentation in the region almost 40 years ago. Erich spoke during the first Orca Symposium at Evergreen State College in 1976. The Symposium coincided with orca captures in nearby Budd Inlet that led to their banning in Washington State. 

For more information on The Whale Trail and Orca Tour 2015, go to: and and 

* To schedule an interview with Erich Hoyt, contact Mike Sato (206) *

Local event partners can be reached at:

Maureen Welton, SIMRES, (250) 539.3698
Mark Loria, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, (250) 665.7511
Chris Genovali, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, (250) 655.1229 x225
Melissa Malott, Citizens for a Healthy Bay, (253) 383.2429
Donna Sandstrom, The Whale Trail, (206) 919.5397 

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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.

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