whales

Megan Farmer / KUOW

Whale watch tour companies have knocked a proposed orca protection initiative off the November ballot in San Juan County, Washington. The ballot measure would have asked voters to greatly increase the stand-off distance between boats and endangered killer whales.

John Calambokidis / Cascadia Research

A whale expert is reporting a rare sighting of blue whales off the Washington state coast. The largest animals on the planet have also been sighted in unusual numbers offshore of Oregon this summer.

A humpback whale breaches in the Salish Sea.
Island Adventures Whale Watching

Humpback whales were once so numerous in the coastal and inland waters of the Pacific Northwest, there were whaling stations near Nanaimo, British Columbia, and Grays Harbor, Washington. These closed by 1925, after the regional population of humpback whales had been largely wiped out.

A century later, humpbacks are resurfacing in big numbers in the Salish Sea, the Columbia River mouth and the Northwest coast. Along with excitement over the humpbacks' return comes concern about ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

Pacific NW Large Whale Entanglement Response Network / NOAA Permit #18786-03

A badly entangled whale is swimming free again after a dramatic rescue off the Washington coast on Thursday evening. The 35-foot long humpback whale calmly allowed responders to cut it free of fishing gear, according to witnesses.

SeaWorld parks said it has no interest in turning over its captive orcas to the Whale Sanctuary Project.
Mike Aguilera / SeaWorld San Diego

An environmental nonprofit is gauging interest in the creation of an orca enclosure in Washington's San Juan Islands. The organization is hosting public outreach meetings over the coming week in six Western Washington locations.

John Weldon / Portland State Univ. via NOAA Marine Mammal Stranding Program

Olympic National Park said a decomposing gray whale washed ashore Friday morning north of Kalaloch Campground. That makes the 24th dead whale stranding in Oregon and Washington this year during the northbound migration.

Cascadia Research Collective

An unusually large number of gray whales are washing up dead on their northbound migration past the Oregon and Washington coasts this year.

Scott Benson / NOAA Fisheries

The Oregon crab industry is putting up money to launch a new research study on where whales swim and feed along the Pacific Coast. The study stems from growing concern West Coast-wide about whales getting tangled in fishing gear.

OSU

There’s a set of massive whale bones resting on the bottom of the bay in Newport, Oregon. Scientists from Oregon State University put them there with a plan for a future display on shore. But they’re having trouble finding the money to retrieve the rare blue whale skeleton from beneath the waves.


Chief Petty Officer John Matuska / U.S. Coast Guard

Specially trained rescuers have managed to free a whale that was tangled in fishing gear off the Washington coast. But they say the prognosis for the young gray whale is "guarded."

Cascadia Research

Earlier this year, a gray whale calf died after getting tangled in crab pot lines near Seaview, Washington. Now commercial and tribal crab fishermen from the Washington coast have agreed to form a working group to discuss how to reduce the risk of a repeat.

NOAA Fisheries

More than 30 times this year, the federal government has received reports of whales tangled in fishing gear along the West Coast. Sometimes the whales manage to wriggle free. Other times they don't, and you see heart-rending pictures on the news or a rescue mission.

Mike Charest / Flickr - tinyurl.com/j2ckpql

A new environmental nonprofit is scouting the Pacific Northwest coast for a suitable cove or bay to establish a refuge for retired captive orca and beluga whales.

The board and staff of the new outfit, called The Whale Sanctuary Project, includes a number of people who helped return Keiko, the star of the Free Willy movie, to Icelandic waters from Newport, Oregon.

Erin Falcone / Cascadia Research under NOAA permit 16111

Think about how long you can hold your breath and then let this discovery blow your mind.