Orca whales bring in 2001

"Pods of orca whales brought in the new year in glorious fashion for islanders and ferry riders on Monday.Susan Berta, of the Orca Conservancy, was notified of the whales' presence and followed them as best she could around the south end of the island.One pod was first reported off East Point and then at Sandy Point. They appeared to be feeding and quite active and moving fairly fast, Berta said. She waited for them at Glendale where she identified the group as the J pod, which is led by a large male. The whales were porpoising, breaching and lob-tailing, putting on a great show for people in the area. As Berta watched from the beach, she said, a big salmon flopped over the driftwood to swim through the culvert and up into the newly re-built Glendale Creek.Both ferries on the Mukilteo/Clinton route found themselves in the middle of J pod at about 3:30 p.m. Monday. The bows of both ferries were loaded with passengers getting an amazing new year's treat, Berta said. The whales were last seen heading toward Edmonds.Earlier Monday, at 11:30 a.m., another group of orcas was reported to Berta. The first sighting came from west of Greenbank, and she met up with them at Ebey's Landing and followed them to Fort Ebey State Park and Partridge Point. This group was moving more slowly than the J pod.After a day of whale chasing, Berta was exhausted but thrilled. We couldn't have asked for a more special way to bring in the new year, she said. It was surely a sign to us that this is a place to be treasured. "

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