6 orcas identified off West Seattle as sun sets

Oct 9, 2012

More than a dozen killer whales swimming past West Seattle gave residents a spectacular sight Monday as the sun set.

Howard Garrett of the Orca Network says six identified from photos represent all three Puget Sound pods — J, K and L. He says this is the farthest south the orcas have been seen this year, and it may indicate a typical fall shift.

The orcas spent May-September around the San Juan Islands, apparently feeding off Fraser River Chinook. Garrett says this time of year they follow chum salmon south into Puget Sound.

The Greenbank-based Orca Network received hundreds of photos from Monday's sightings.

The southern resident orcas are listed as an endangered species, and the Center for Whale Research estimates a population of 85 in three pods.