Update on NPS gray whales “Sounders” and new ID guide

Each spring in the North Puget Sound area of Washington state, roughly a dozen whales known as the “Sounders” make their way to the inland waters, diverging from their migrational path to feed on ghost shrimp for 2-3 months. These whales an be seen around the southern ends of Whidbey and Camano Island, Saratoga Passage, Port Susan, Gedney/Hat Island, and the Snohomish Delta. Some of these individuals have been spotted as early as 1990, and are a part of the larger Eastern North Pacific gray whale population. Cascadia Research has been collecting photos and data on these whales since the early 90s. Using photo ID we can track which individuals return each year as well as learn of their movements during the rest of their migration between the Baja California and the Bering/Chukchi seas. The group is made up of mostly males, with a few females who have never shown up with calves, though gaps in visiting years may indicate they are calving but not bringing the calf to the area. Not every individual is present each year, and some are more “regular” than others.

The earliest arrivals in 2018 were 49 (Patch) 53 (Little Patch), 56, 383, and 723 (Lucyfer), all in the month of March.

Check out our NEW Sounders ID guide in collaboration with Orca Network

To read more about the Sounders gray whales check out our webpage

CRC ID #723 Lucyfer on March 3rd, 2018