Welcome the Orcas

Celebrate the Return of the Southern Residents to Central Puget Sound
Throughout December With a Welcome Sign, Poem or Story
The southern resident orcas return to central Puget Sound each fall and winter, following chum salmon runs that are a critical part of their diet. The Whale Trail and our partners have been hosting Welcome the Orcas events since 2009. This year, the celebration has been transformed from a 1-day event around the Sound into a series of activities that anyone can do from home. No matter where you are, join us in welcoming J, K and L pods with heart and art. Put your creativity to work for Tahlequah and Eclipse, their calves and kin!


Put a Whale in your Window!

Color and display a welcome sign in your window.  Use the downloadable template, or make your own. Display the sign in your window and share on social media with #welcometheorcas.

Download the templates by clicking on the images below.


Click here to view and download a poster to print and color.

Click here to view and download a poster to print.

Write for the Orcas

Write a poem or share your story. Share what the orcas mean to you, and your hopes for their future. Do you have a favorite orca, or orca story? We want to hear about it!

Submit your poem or story by December 31, 2020. Orca-themed prizes will be awarded for the top three entries in each age category:

K-2nd grade, 3-5th grade, 6-8thgrade, 9-12thgrade, Adults.

Prizes are non-monetary. Winners will be notified and announced in January 2021.

You can upload your poem or story using the forms below, or mail it to us at The Whale Trail, 6523 California Ave SW, #410,  Seattle WA 98136.

Poetry Submittal Form – Click here to submit your poem

Story Submittal Form – Click here to submit your story.

Snap a Selfie!

Take a picture of your welcome sign and tag it #welcometheorcas.

If you live near a Whale Trail site, show us what you see!
Be sure to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and follow all other COVID restrictions.

About the Southern Residents

The southern resident orca population consists fo 3 pods: J Pod, K pod and L pod. From a high of 98 animals in 1996, the population has declined precipitously, to a current near-historical low of 74 individuals. In one human generation we’ve brought them to the edge of extinction, through threats that are all human-caused.

In 2019 Governor Inslee’s Task Force recommended 49 actions to recover the southern residents by increasing prey availability, reducing toxin accumulations and reducing noise and disturbance.

The recent birth of two new calves, with more on the way, is a ray of hope for these beloved and iconic pods. Join with us to welcome the orcas and commit to making the Salish Sea a place that can sustain them again. We can’t wait to see your signs and read your poems and stories!