Spring around The Whale Trail


“Patch” the gray whale, in Puget Sound. Photo by John Calambokidis

The gray whale migration in full swing along the west coast (including surfing gray whales in Redondo Beach). Resident and transient orca pods have made frequent forays into central Puget Sound this week – sometimes on the same day! The whales have been busy, and so are we!

Sites and Signs. Our newest signs in Washington State will be at Point Robinson, Fay Bainbridge Park, and Point Defiance. We’re working closely with site partners and community members to customize the designs, and pick the best places for the signs to be placed. Thanks to WDFW Enforcement for funding these signs, which be installed and inaugurated this summer. Watch this space (and our Facebook page!) for information about our sign dedications!

Orca Talks. In March, Jeanette Dorner gave a wonderful presentation about the great work that the Regional Fishery Enhancement Groups do to protect and recover salmon in Washington State. We were moved and inspired to see the before and after pictures of restored habitat – and how quickly the salmon return!

Our next talk will feature John Calambokidis, talking about the resurgence of humpback and gray whales in Puget Sound.  John’s talks are always chock full of up-to-the-minute research findings and breathtaking critter cam footage. Buy tickets here – don’t miss this! John gave our very first Orca Talk about blue whales in 2010, and we are thrilled to present him again in West Seattle.

Springer in Puget Sound, 2002. Photo by Mark Sears

Celebrate Springer 2017. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Springer, the orphaned orca, going home. We’re working with teams in the US and Canada to plan events to celebrate her homecoming. It’s the first and so far only successful orca rehabilitation in history. I am convinced that the lessons we learned from getting Springer home—working together, and putting her best interest first—hold the keys to recovering the SRKW too.

We’ll be celebrating Springer on May 20 at a presentation on Vashon Island, June 22 at a panel discussion at NOAA Fisheries in Seattle, and July 21 – 23 in Telegraph Cove, BC. Hope you can join us and members of Springer’s team for one, or all the events. Stay tuned for details!

Two Things You Can Do to Help Orcas Today

Washington Residents: call your legislators and tell them to support funding for salmon recovery – especially projects that will restore habitat around Puget Sound. We know what to do, and we know how to do it. We can’t afford to lose momentum on this important work, so critical to orca recovery, and the health of northwest ecosystems.

Support the Whale Protection Zone for the west side of San Juan Island. Speak up for the whales and add your comment to the Orca Relief petition. Comments are due by April 13. Noise and stress from boats makes it harder for orcas to catch salmon. Give the whales they acoustic space they need to hunt, rest, socialize, and recover. Learn more at Orca Relief.

Thanks everyone. Happy Spring, and see you on The Whale Trail!

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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