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

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First footage of rare beaked whales, diesel spill in BC, and more

News around The Whale Trail: whales and marine issues in the news today.

Caught on film for the first time: One of the world’s rarest whales. The first underwater images of True’s beaked whales show a cohesive group of three adult or subadult whales swimming together. The species is considered one of the most elusive in the ocean. (Washington Post, 3/ 8/2017)

Diesel Spill near northern Vancouver Island Emergency crews are responding to a diesel spill at a fish farm near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. (CBC News, 3/5/2017)

Vancouver Park Board holding special meeting tonight on future of whales at Vancouver Aquarium “The Vancouver Park Board is expecting a full house and dozens of speakers tonight, for a special meeting on the future of captive whales at the Vancouver Aquarium. The board will consider four options, which range from embracing the aquarium’s plans for expansion, to holding a city-wide plebiscite on the matter to banning captive cetaceans altogether.” (CBC News 3/8/2017)

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Orca Talk 2/23: Barnes Lake Killer Whale Rescue

Offshore orcas in Barnes Lake 1994. Photo by David Bain

In 1994, nine offshore killer whales became entrapped in a large tide pool at Barnes Lake, Alaska. A film crew sought help for the whales as NOAA determined how to address the life-threatening situation. Dr. Bain was recruited to help, and led the attempt to return the whales to open water.

Join us to hear this rare, first-hand story of an orca rescue. Dr. Bain will also discuss prior events that made the rescue effort possible, and the implications of this effort for the subsequent rescue of Springer (A-73).

When: Thursday February 23, 7:PM – 8:30
Where: C&P Coffee Company, 5621 California Ave Sw, Seattle
Tickets: $5 general admission. kids get in free!

<A HREF=”″>Buy tickets for Barnes Lake Killer Whale Rescue, by Dr. David Bain</A>

Buy tickets now, this will sell out!

About the Speaker

Dr. Bain has been studying killer whales since 1978. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and did post-doctoral fellowships at UC Davis and the National Marine Mammal Lab. His work has addressed many aspects of their biology and behavior. In recent years he has focused on the effects of disturbance.

Dr. Bain is a co-author of Canada’s Resident Killer Whale Recovery Strategy under SARA. In addition to his research, he is active in protecting and restoring habitat for killer whales and their prey.

In 2002, Dr. Bain was a scientific advisor to the Orphan Orca Fund, a coalition of non-profits that supported the successful effort to return Springer, an orphaned orca, to her pod.

Whale Trail on KCBX/NPR

Tom Wilmer, KCBX/NPR interviewed Founder/Director Donna Sandstrom about the latest leg of the Whale Trail, on California’s central coast. Signs at Avila, Cayucos, Montana de Oro (Baywood-Los Osos), Oceano Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes, San Simeon and Cambria were inaugurated and celebrated over the past week. Listen here:

The Whale Trail—from B.C. to Baja—great whale watching spots identified

The Whale Trail signs and inauguration events were produced in partnership with:

  • San Simeon Tourism Alliance
  • Cambria Tourism Board
  • Visitor Alliance of Cayucos
  • Visit Los Osos Baywood
  • Visit Avila Beach
  • Visit Oceano Nipomo,
  • CA Highway 1 Discovery Route
  • Stewardship Travel
  • California State Parks.

Thanks to our sponsors, partners and organizers for a wonderful kickoff to The Whale Trail   CA – Central Coast!

Whale Trail Receives Hollings Award

We are thrilled to announce that The Whale Trail has been selected to receive a Hollings Award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The grant will fund new sites and signs in Northern California, building awareness about SRKW in a key part of their range.  We can’t wait to get started. Full text of press release is below.

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Announces Grant to Spotlight Endangered Marine Species
$50,000 will extend interpretive signage on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale to northern California 

Date: January 19, 2017
Contact:  Allison Alexander,
301-608-3040 ext. 303

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation announced that The Whale Trail, based in Seattle, Wash., will receive a $50,000 Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award for their project, “The Whale Trail Northern California,” to develop interpretive signage on the northern California coast focusing on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW), extending the trail of signage already found in the Olympic Peninsula.  

The award is one of five grants totaling $215,000 awarded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to expand public awareness of ocean and Great Lakes conservation issues in partnership with America’s national marine sanctuaries.

“The Whale Trail will help engage Americans in understanding how they can change the future for the southern resident orca, since all the issues that have brought the SKRW to the brink of extinction are human-caused,” said Kristen Sarri, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “Supporting local partners and their efforts to conserve this magnificent species is at the heart of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s work and well represents the goals of the Hollings Ocean Awareness Awards.”

“The Hollings Award will make it possible for coastal visitors and residents to learn more about where and when to watch whales from shore. The northern California coast is a key part of the range for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. With NMSF support we’ll build awareness of these iconic and beloved pods, the threats they are facing, and the role that we can each and all play in their recovery,” said Donna Sandstrom, founder and executive director for The Whale Trail.

The Hollings Award to The Whale Trail was provided in partnership with NOAA Fisheries. The purpose of the Hollings Awards is to foster a better understanding of ocean and Great Lakes issues that leads to increased stewardship of natural and cultural marine resources, including the eight endangered and protected species that are part of NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight campaign. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation seeks projects that inspire local communities to conservation actions, seeking innovative ideas that partner with America’s marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries to draw needed attention to endangered species such as the Southern Resident Killer Whale.  

“NOAA Fisheries is pleased to be a partner in these education and outreach projects that support stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat,” said Paul Doremus, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations for NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service.

Established in 2005, the awards represent the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s commitment to the legacy of former U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings who authored an extraordinary range of laws to safeguard America’s ocean and coasts. Senator Hollings was committed to increasing knowledge of our ocean’s value through research and education.   

NMSF is supporting four other organizations with Hollings Ocean Awareness Awards that support projects in California, Georgia, Michigan, and Hawaii. The five funded projects connect with a wide geography of sanctuaries in U.S. waters, and support critical education and outreach initiatives on ocean and Great Lakes conservation and endangered species awareness. 

NMSF has awarded more than $1.7 million in grants through the Hollings Awards program from its Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund and other sources since 2005 to approximately 70 organizations. 


About the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation: The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is a private, non-profit organization that connects people to America’s national marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries. These special places are set aside for their cultural and ecological significance and protect the wildlife, habitats, and history of America’s ocean and Great Lakes for future generations. They are protected for the benefit of the American people, as outdoor classrooms, living laboratories, and amazing places to visit and play.  The Foundation’s mission is to support sanctuaries in their goal to protect essential U.S. marine and freshwater areas and to ensure a healthy ocean. Learn more at

About The Whale Trail: The Whale Trail is a series of sites where the public may view orcas, other cetaceans and marine mammals from shore. Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment by establishing a network of viewing sites along the whales’ trails along the Salish Sea and the Pacific Coast. Our goals are to increase awareness that our marine waters are home to orcas and other species; connect visitors to orcas, other marine wildlife and their habitat; inspire stewardship and build community; and promote land-based whale watching. Visit us at 

Allison AlexanderVice President
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
8601 Georgia Avenue, Suite 510
Silver Spring, MD 20910
t: 301.608.3040 x303
f: 301.608.3044

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation connects people to the underwater places that define the American ocean.

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