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ORCA Survey

Outreach & Education Center

Temporarily CLOSED

April 2021

The ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center is temporarily closed until further notice as per Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 restrictions.

185 S. First St. Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

The non-profit Center for Whale Research (CWR) opened ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor in the Summer of 2018 (see Grand Opening photographs) to address a need for effective public outreach. Admission to the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center is FREE. Since then, 14,000 people from across North America and worldwide have visited and learned from knowledgeable CWR staff and volunteers about killer whales and how they can help the struggling Southern Resident orca population. 

 

You can support the Center for Whale Research’s ongoing research, outreach and education, and advocacy efforts by becoming a CWR member or making a CWR donation. Your financial contributions are much appreciated.

Our MISSION

The Mission of the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center is to educate and give back to the public the information and knowledge that CWR, and our colleagues, have gathered during 45 years of research of killer whales (orcas) in the waters around the San Juan Islands.

ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center

Attractions, Exhibits, and Activities:

(Click on the underlined links to learn more)

  • VR! Virtual Reality. Experience the Whales UP CLOSE through the eyes of a whale researcher! Be introduced to a world of orcas as you’ve never seen before during a whirlwind 5-minute video ride aboard the Center for Whale Research’s research vessel, Orca, when field researchers encounter whales.

  • Orca Education Stations. Watch drone video of orcas taken by CWR field researchers. Learn how to ID individual whales. Find out which whales are females and males, their ages, and who's related.  

  • Lectures with Experts. Learn about whales from CWR field researchers and guest lecturers.

  • The Whale Skull. See a full-size, real-life orca skull on display. ​​​​

  • Monday Movie Night. On select Mondays during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we screen films and videos from our vast media archives and video vault.​ Monday Movie Night movies and documentaries have included: The Breach, DamNation, The Whale, Dammed to Extinction, and others.

Attention Educators!

We know that most learning is taking place virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our Education & Outreach Manager, Katie Jones, is available for talks about Southern Resident killer whales via Zoom. Please contact katie@whaleresearch.com for more information!

 

VR! Virtual Reality

Experiencing the “no whales blues?”

Virtual Reality headset on, go on a whirlwind 5-minute video ride aboard one of CWR’s research vessels when field researchers encounter Bigg’s Transient orcas.

 

One minute the sea in Haro Strait is tranquil under a beautiful sunny sky. Then the T65Bs, T75Bs, and T75Cs arrive. See their first surfacing blows, their dorsal fins slicing the calm water surface, and a rare, once-in-a-lifetime moment when the orcas swim around and under the boat!

We promise it’s practically as good as being there in person. So much for the “no whales blues.”

Watch this video of Alan Budwill and CWRs founder and senior scientist Ken Balcomb experiencing VR whale watching at the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center.

See a world of whales as you’ve never seen before!

We bring you and the orcas face to face in new and innovative ways. See big-screen video and virtual reality footage of the whales in the wild taken from our research boats and Center for Whale Research’s drones. Enjoy other fun and educational displays. Learn from trained CWR staff and volunteers on hand to answer questions about our beloved local whales. 

 

The Center for Whale Research emphasizes that the Southern Resident orcas’ primary threat is a lack of food security. They require a constant diet of healthy Chinook salmon. At the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center and in our other communication efforts, we stress that a sustainable source of the orcas’ main food - Chinook salmon - is critical to the whales’ survival.

We encourage everyone to learn as much as possible about the plight of the 75 whales in the Southern Resident orca population. With your new knowledge, we ask you to stand with the Center for Whale Research and speak out loudly and clearly for the powers that be to do what’s necessary to ensure these whales live long into the future.

Orca Education Stations

Vast expertise about the Southern Resident orcas

Trained CWR staff and volunteers on hand to help.

CWR’s Dave Ellifrit (top) and Dr. Michael Weiss (bottom) speaking with guests at the Grand Opening of the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center in August 2018. 

 

 

Lectures with Experts

Learn from the orca experts!

Public and private educational gatherings.

Whether it’s a private children’s event like the Bellevue/Eastside

Girl Scout Troop’s visit or a public presentation like CWR’s Dr. Astrid van Ginneken’s “WHALE STORIES WITH ASTRID,” our Lectures with Experts are educational . . . and fun!

Watch for our announcements about upcoming Lectures with Experts when the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center reopens following our COVID-19 closure. In the meantime, Orca Survey Education & Outreach Manager, Katie Jones, is available for talks about Southern Resident killer whales via Zoom. Contact her at katie@whaleresearch.com for more information!

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The Whale Skull

A full-size, real-life orca skull!

Like nothing youve ever seen before; a popular exhibit with all ages.

Probably the closest you will ever get to a full-size, real-life Bigg’s Transient killer whale skull. We have it enclosed in a display case for its protection, but you can still see all of the little, oops, BIG details. How many teeth does it have?

The Story of The Whale Skull will be posted here soon.

 

A full house of locals and visitors gathered for MONDAY Movie Night.

On select Mondays during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we screen films and videos from our vast media archives and video vault.​ These movies and documentaries have included: The Breach, DamNation, The Whale, Dammed to Extinction, and others.

 

Monday Movie Night will resume when the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center reopens following our COVID-19 closure. Watch for announcements here and follow us on Facebook

Monday Movie Night

Current and classic whale films and videos.​

 

Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center

Grand Opening: August 21, 2018

Several hundred people visited and celebrated during the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center’s opening day on August 21, 2018. The following are photographs from the Grand Opening.

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