Orcas spotted off South End

At least 20 orcas were recently spotted in the waters off South Whidbey.

The first orcas were seen on Nov. 16 in Saratoga Passage, according to Orca Network Director and President Howard Garrett.

“This time of year, sometimes well into January, they’re down into Admiralty Inlet,” Garrett said. “It’s only once or twice a year they come into Saratoga [Passage].”

Garrett observed orcas on Nov. 18 on East Point by Baby Island.

The marine mammals caused a ferry delay when the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry stopped at about 8:45 a.m. Nov. 19 and orca pods swam around the ferry.

“This time of year is when they are down here, off and on,” Garrett said. “They chase chum all over the place.”

People generally only see three or four at a time. Garrett said he spoke to Northwest Fisheries Science Center wildlife biologist Brad Hanson, who recorded observing four orcas on Nov. 18.

Garrett and Susan Berta of the Orca Network saw at least 20.

“Probably all of K pod was there,” Garrett said.

J and K pods were spotted all the way to Vashon Island. Garrett said the orca sightings might continue for another day or two.

“They’re in position to go south in the [Puget] Sound or north into Admiralty [Inlet],” Garrett said. “They’re not in any hurry to move.”

One report was filed at 7:20 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 when an orca was spotted in Possession Sound from the Kingston-Edmonds ferry lane.

“They’re probably just milling and foraging in Possession Sound,” he said.

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