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the WHALE Report

March // 2020 

CWR Member News // Published Quarterly

MEGA Legacy 

Southern Residents most prolific male missing
and presumed deceased

CWR field researchers last saw L41 on August 11, 2019

Mega sired many calves during his forty-three years of life, making him one of the most important breeders in the SRKWs recent history. 

Read Astrid van Ginneken's a look BACK and Ken Balcomb's L41 recollections.

L41 - Photograph by Dave Ellifrit, 2013

Anchor 1


We are hopeful that L41 is alive somewhere and returns to the subgroup, but he did live to a ripe old age and fathered more baby whales than any other whale in the community.
He had a good life.
- Ken Balcomb

An excerpt from a January 30 press release by Ken Balcomb announcing that 43-year-old L41, Mega, was missing.

Read the rest of Ken's announcement.



2020 Encounter summary

CWR Member photo DOWNLOAD 

For personal use only.

J47 Spyhop

Encounter #9 // February 25, 2020

(Photograph by CWR's Mark Malleson

Excerpt from Encounter Summary:

Within a few hundred metres was J26, followed closely by J47, who looked like was picking up scraps from a snack, though no obvious predation was observed. The pair were soon joined by J35 and J27 and this group of four socialized for several minutes before they split up and J47 continued following J26 in his slipstream.
Read the full Encounter #9 with J pod. 

2020 Encounters for a complete description of encounters.
Salish Sea Ecosystem.jpg

Salish Sea Transboundary Ecosystem 

Click map to enlarge.

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Salish Sea: Measures 17,000 sq km with 7,470 sq km of coastline; 37 species of mammals, 172 species of birds, 247 species of fish, and over 3000 species of invertebrate inhabit the region (119 of these are at risk); eight million people make their home in the area (Source: SeaDoc Society).

Encounters in 2020:
13 Encounters through February 29, 2020 
  • Southern Resident killer whale encounters: 7

  • Transient/Bigg's killer whale encounters: 6


Encounters with killer whales in inland waters since January 1Encounter #1 - #13, are marked on the map: Encounters with Southern Residents are marked with blue numbered locator dots and Transients/Bigg's with black numbered locator dots. These locator dots are active links to the full Encounter Summary (desktop version only).

Note. There are two #3 on the map: Encounter #3 (Seq #1) and Encounter #3 (Seq #2)

Southern Resident Killer Whale Population: 73*
J pod = 22, K pod = 17, L pod = 34

The official Southern Resident orca is population 73 whales. With L41 missing and presumed deceased, the SRKW population count is provisionally 72.


CWR has documented thirteen killer whale encounters through February 2020. During the first two months of 2019, orcas were seen in inland waters on twelve occasions (five Southern Resident sightings, seven Transient/Bigg's sightings).


*The official annual count of Southern Resident orcas is reported July 1 and December 31 of each year. 

SRKW Census_July 1-2019_RP.jpg

Southern Resident Orca Population 

J, K, and L Pod Census as of July 1 (1976-2019). Click graph to enlarge.

© 2019 Copyright Center for Whale Research. Derivative use requires written approval.


L41 (largest dorsal fin) was last seen by CWR field researchers on August 11, 2019 (Encounter #51). Photograph by Mark Malleson.

Southern Resident killer whale missing!
L41 is presumed to be deceased

L41 recollections by CWR's Founder and Senior Scientist, Ken Balcomb:

My first acquaintance with the Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) we designated L41 was in 1977, the year after we began the annual Orca Survey of this population that continues to this day. His mother was L11, who was one of nine females to produce new babies that year following the cessation of captures in 1976. We watched the energetic young male baby as he grew up, and we had great hopes that he and his companions would fill in the youthful cohorts of the population that had been decimated by captures between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s.


L41, with an adoption name Mega, travelled with his mom and sisters in a subgroup of L pod that became known as the L12s, named after his presumed grandmother, who was the likely mother of L11. It should be noted that the alpha-numeric designations are not in the birth order sequence in the early years of the Orca Survey – because nobody knew the population composition prior to our study. The whales were numbered in those early years in the order that they were first seen, and it was only after we had all of them identified in 1976 that subsequent new babies received the next sequential alpha-numeric designation for identification. 

Read all of L41 recollections​.


In 2019, CWR field staff encountered SRKWs 42 times (Js - 30 times, Ks - 18 times, Ls - 20 times). ​The most prolific month of Southern Resident killer whale encounters by CWR was September with 10 sightings (Js - 4 times, Ks - 9 times, Ls 7 times). For the first time since the Orca Survey began in 1976, there were no Southern Residents sightings in the “core summer habitat” during June, and for the second year in a row, there were no sightings by CWR staff of SRKWs in May. Three SRKWs died in 2019: J17, K25, and L84. ​During the three years before 2019, CWR staff observed and documented SRKWs as follows:  2018 - 49, 2017 - 42, 2016 - 63. CWR field researchers encountered Southern Resident orcas in their core April-September habitat in the Salish Sea on 36 of the 183 days; historically, some SRKWs would be present nearly every day during these six months.

getting to KNOW THEM

In each issue of the WHALE Report, we feature one or more members of the SRKW community. In this issue, our focus is the offspring of the most prolific male in the recent history of the Southern Resident population, L41.

getting to KNOW THEM

L41's offspring

K33 at sunsent on March 3,  2018 (Encounter #10).

Photograph by Mark Malleson.

A study published in March 2018, Inbreeding in an endangered killer whale population, found:"The 46 high confidence paternities involved males mating with females from all three pods (Supporting Information: Table S 6). Two males, L41 and J1, were responsible for 80% of the paternities where a sampled father was identified, and 52% of all sampled offspring born since 1990."

In 2011, scientists and collaborators from Northwest Marine Fisheries Service, Center for Whale Research, University of Washington, and Cascadia Research Collective reported the paternity of more than fifteen Southern Resident killer whale calves. The study, Inferred paternity and male reproductive success in a killer whale (Orcinus orca) population, found that only L41 and J1 could be positively identified as having fathered offspring in the SRKW community. Other mature Southern Resident orca males were "inferred by indirect methods to be probable fathers of living SRKW." There was conclusive evidence that some individuals were born as a result of matings by animals from the same pod. Note. J1 died in 2010.

Genetic testing provided some interesting paternity results.

The oldest living males fathered by L41 are K33 and K34

K33 // Male - K12 matriline 

  • Born 2001; 19-years-old

  • Mother K22 (est. 1972) 

  • No siblings; uncle K37 and aunt K43

  • Identify K33 by his left and right side saddle patches (closed), and curve near the tip of his dorsal fin.  

K12 Matriline.png

K34 // Male - K13 matriline 

  • Born 2001; 19-years-old

  • Mother K13 (deceased,

        est. 1972-2017) 

  • Three siblings; K20, K25,

         and K27; two nephews,

         K38 and K44

  • Identify K34 by his open

         left and right side saddle


SRKW Known and Probable Paternity: L41 
J Pod
  • J34 (male/died 2016)
  • J35 (female/born 1998)

  • J36 (female/born 1999)

  • J37 (female/born 2001)

  • J40 (female/born 2004)

  • J44 (male/born 2009)

  • J45 (male/born 2009)

  • Neonate (died 2013)

  • J53 (female/born 2015)

K Pod
  • K33 (male/born 2001)

  • K34 (male/born 2001)

  • K35 (male/born 2002)

  • K36 (female/born 2003)

  • K42 (male/born 2008)

L Pod
  • L95 (male/died 2016)

  • L100 (male/died 2014)

  • L101(male/died 2008)

  • L106 (male/born 2005)

  • L112 (female/died 2012)

  • L116 (male/born 2010)

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K34 and K27 breaching simultaneously on August 23, 2016 (Encounter #88). Photograph by Ken Balcomb.

Photo Gallery - L41's offspring
L41's offspring: L112

L41's offspring: L112

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: K35

L41's offspring: K35

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: L106

L41's offspring: L106

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: K34

L41's offspring: K34

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: J53

L41's offspring: J53

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: J45 breach

L41's offspring: J45 breach

Photograph by Melisa Pinnow

L41's offspring: J40

L41's offspring: J40

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: J37

L41's offspring: J37

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: J36

L41's offspring: J36

Photograph by Mia Reynolds

L41's offspring: J35

L41's offspring: J35

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: L116

L41's offspring: L116

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41 offspring: L95 and J34

L41 offspring: L95 and J34

Photograph by Dave Ellifrit

L41's offspring: J44

L41's offspring: J44

L41's offspring: K36 and K42

L41's offspring: K36 and K42

L41's offspring: K33

L41's offspring: K33

Photograph by Melisa Pinnow

a look BACK

a look BACK

Fatherhood nearly cut off before it got started
Only a few yards separated the two whales from the stern. 
By Dr. Astrid van Ginneken, CWR Co-Principal Investigator

Every whale that passes away is a significant loss, and it is very sad to see how many have disappeared over the past years. But the longer an individual has been with us, and especially when it is an easily recognizable iconic orca, it is even harder. 

     When I began to help with the Orca Survey in 1987, the population was going up. A death was exceptional in those days. I remember L41 as the young sprouter whom I could tell from L7, because of his slightly taller fin with a nick in the middle. As a 10-year old, he was big for his age. He steadily gained size and weight and grew into an independent and self-confident adolescent.

     Perhaps his mother, L11, was less protective. I remember J10 as a female who always kept her young at her side, whereas L11 seemed to have a more relaxed attitude towards her offspring. It looked like she told them: “Feel free to explore the world. If you need me, I’ll be there.” She appeared to encourage him to socialize and build relationships with other individuals early on. Which we now know seems vital for survival when a mom passes away.

L41 survived the loss of his mother, probably because he was so well accepted by others in his pod.

     One extraordinary event happened on September 14, 1996. Around 7 am, Robin Baird (Cascadia Research Collective) called in a sighting of whales heading north at Hannah Heights. We quickly readied the Center for Whale Research/Earthwatch team and departed Snug Harbor in our trimaran, High Spirits. We saw the orcas abreast at Bellevue Point, heading toward us. There were vocalizations on the hydrophone, and it was evident from the start that the whales were social and active.

     The group turned out to be Js and Ls!

     Several big males sought each other’s company. We saw J1, J6, L57, and later L38. We turned around and monitored the various J and L groups as they headed north.

     When we entered Mitchell Bay, the scene slowed a bit, and we saw a few whales milling at their leisure. We barely moved when we saw a whale hanging in the water close to the boat. In a sort of aerial scan, it held its head a little tilted, and for a moment, we thought it was looking at us. We were thrilled with the attention. 

     Then, within minutes we suddenly saw adult males converging on us. L57 and L10 approached from portside.

J6 came from the starboard side and L41 from behind. The males seemed eager for something and increased speed, creating suction along their flanks.

     The whale that had been “looking” at us rolled and dived. We looked around in all directions to see what the males were up to.

     A few tantalizing minutes of activity went on underwater, out of sight. Then small waves at the stern revealed the presence of approaching whales. We huddled in the back of the boat to watch. 

CWR staff observing SRKWs from High Spirits in the late 70s. 

     Then, I saw a male and a female whale approach belly up

. . . with the giant penis of the male reaching over to the genital slit of the female. Only a few yards separated the two whales from the stern. I made a dash for the throttle to put High Spirits in idle. While we looked down into the water, the pair glided underneath the boat. The penis clearing the prop by only an inch!

     Relieved that no harm was done, we watched the two orcas surface in front of us. The mystery was solved: It was

L41 and J19.

     We realized that all of the males had been interested in J19, who had been logging beside our vessel. She hadn’t been interested in us at all! Instead, she had been curiously looking around above and underwater as if saying: “Who will it be . . . ?”

     Not long after, we saw fog rolling in. Partly in the thin clouds, but just in time, we entered Snug Harbor safely. Still with our minds on the pair in love, the scene passed in revue. Obviously, L41 had won his prize over, as he would do many times to come. 


Author’s Note. No calf was conceived during this mating session between L41 and J19. But L41, along with J1, would go on to sire the majority of the calves in the Southern Resident killer whale community. Many are still with us, and hopefully, they will live to carry on the genes of their strong fathers to new generations!

Dr. Astrid van Ginneken has been a volunteer CWR staff member since 1987, has published scientific and popular articles about killer whales, and has written a novel, Togetherness is Our Home, An Orca’s Journey through Life, in which killer whales star. She is a data collection and database specialist, is an accomplished wildlife photographer, and is well known for her captivating storytelling of encounters with the charismatic Southern Resident orcas. Dr. van Ginneken lives in The Netherlands.

getting to KNOW US

getting to KNOW US

CWR's Mark Malleson

Mark was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He has been locating and documenting Transient/Bigg’s and Southern Resident killer whales traveling in the Salish Sea for the Center for Whale Research since 2003. Along with collecting photo ID shots of orcas, Mark has compiled and published an extensive identification catalog of Humpback whales frequenting the region. He also does contract work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (since 2003) and guides and skippers Prince of Whales whale watching vessels. Transport Canada certified Mark as a commercial skipper in 1997. 

Meet the entire Center for Whale Research team


with Mark Malleson

Mark Malleson aboard Mike 1 near Victoria, British Columbia in 2018 (Encounter #7). From a video shot by Ken Balcomb.

T060C_MLM_ FEB 18 2019.jpg

Q: How did you become interested and involved in the whale world?

A: I was introduced to the Southern Resident killer whales in 1994 when a friend of mine, who was working for the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, took me out early one morning on the "tracker" boat to locate whales. Some hotel guests would go whale watching later that morning. My friend and I left Oak Bay in dense fog at 7:00 am, broke out of it halfway across Haro Strait headed for the west side of San Juan Island. We worked our way from Limekiln State Park south as far as Eagle Point. No luck finding whales. We then headed offshore toward Discovery Island. Midway across Haro Strait on a line with Limekiln, we came across a large concentration of orcas. My friend announced it was all of  L pod, which back then was more than 40 animals. In 1997, this friend was working for Prince of Whales as a guide/zodiac skipper and was leaving to join the Coast Guard. He suggested I apply for his old job. Twenty-three years, later I am still working for Prince of Whales.


Q: How did you get involved working with the Center for Whale Research? 

A: Ken Balcomb and I crossed paths when I was heading down Saanich Inlet in my 11.5' zodiac trying catch up with a group of Offshore killer whales that had gone down the inlet earlier in the day. Ken and Dave Ellifrit were headed home after an encounter with these orcas and let me know the whales were foraging at the head of the inlet.

In 2003, I received a call at home saying that Ken was at the Prince of Whales office in Victoria looking for me. He already knew that I shared the same passions as him: whales and photography. I invited him to come back to my apartment to talk whales over a beer. I showed him my extensive collection of organized slides and photographs of killer whales. On the spot, he offered to buy me a digital camera - I was still shooting film - and a laptop computer to help with his research of the SRKWs.

Q: You take amazing photographs. How did your interest in marine mammal photography come about? 

A: I have been an avid photographer since I was a teenager and packed a camera along with me from my very first trip guiding with Prince of Whales. I was enamored with the beauty of the orcas and would take pictures at every opportunity while guiding and eventually on my own time outside work hours. I also took opportunistic shots of other marine mammals, including my first ever Humpback whale shot in 1997.

One of Mark's favorite Transient/Bigg's killer whale photograph: T060C porpoising in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  

Q: Do you have a favorite non-ID picture you've taken of either Southern Residents or Bigg’s/Transients?

A: My favorite picture is a shot I took of L89 at sunset near Eagle Point, San Juan Island (see photograph below).

Q: What kind of camera and lenses do you use to photograph whales and other marine life? 

A: I've been shooting Canon since I got started in the whale watching world. I now use a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 300mm 2.8 lens. I also have a second camera (5D Mark III) with a 70-200mm 2.8.

Q: Can you tell us one memorable story while taking photo ID shots of orcas for CWR’s Orca Survey?

A: I was eastbound off of Port Renfrew on Mike 1 with Dan McSweeney on board. After leaving the L54s in thick fog, I saw a blip on the radar screen. We slowed down and waited for another blip when J26 (aka Mike) emerged from the abyss headed straight toward us. We stayed with him until the fog lifted and the sun came out. The rest of J pod was present! All were foraging off the mouth of the Port of San Juan.


Q: Do you have a memory of one incredible encounter with L41, Mega?

A: I would have to say my most special memory of L41 is my last sighting of him on August 11, 2019, near Carmanah Lighthouse. This is the last time he was seen.

See Mark's photographs of L41 on this day.


Q: Any words of advice to humans about how they can help slow the extinction of marine species? 

A: Do everything possible to minimize contamination of our oceans. Dispose of paints and chemicals at proper receptacles. Recycle. Minimize plastic usage. And educate others to do the same!

Q: Do you have a “most important thing to remember” message to share with CWR members and that you communicate to others when talking with them about the SRKWs?  

A: Save our salmon! 


Humpback with its mouth wide open. This photograph was published in the Victoria Times Colonist with a story Humpback Comeback by Judith Lavoie (July 2016).


L89 at sunset near Eagle Point, San Juan Island, part of a superpod encounter (September 2011).

from the SCIENCE Desk

from the SCIENCE Desk

ORCA Survey

Since 1976, the Center for Whale Research has been conducting observation-based studies of killer whales in the Salish Sea. CWR staff continue to collect detailed demographic data about the Southern Resident killer whale population for the 2020 Orca Survey, including photo-identification images of members of the SRKW community; observations of births and deaths; information about the behavior and ecology of the animals, including where the animals are in geographic location and time, and their social behavior and foraging patterns. This dataset continues to provide unprecedented insights into killer whale biology and ecology that can inform management decisions to assist in the recovery of the population.

Dave shooting from CWR boat_edited.jpg

Dave Ellifrit (above) during an encounter with SRKWs aboard CWR research vessel.

Aerial Observation Study

In 2018, the Center for Whale Research, working with a research team from the University of Exeter, launched a research study using drones (i.e., unmanned aerial vehicles/ UAVs) to study the behavior of the Southern Resident killer whales from a new perspective. This study is helping understand the SRKW's complex lives better, revealing factors that influence survival, reproduction, social structure, and the evolution of this species unique life-history.


In 2019, the CWR-University of Exeter SRKW Aerial Observation Study was expanded and became part of a large international project funded by the National Environmental Research Council in the United Kingdom to look at how family life influences rates of aging. CWR Scientific Advisor (Animal Social Networks) and Professor of Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter, Dr. Darren Croft, summarizes the project: The Evolution of Sex Differences in Mammalian Social Life Histories.

Read more about the SRKW Aerial Observation Study and CWR's drone pilots. See aerial footage of the orcas on a big screen and have your questions about the Southern Residents answered at the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island.

Centre for Whale Research's Michael Weiss leads new published study of SRKWs

Michael Weiss and a team of researchers (three others from CWR) studied the

Southern Resident killer whales vulnerability to disease outbreaks. Weiss sums up the new published study this way:

"Outbreaks of new diseases can be devastating for animal populations, especially those that are already facing other stressors. For several years, researchers have suggested that the Southern Resident killer whale community may be vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious disease, with particular concerns raised about cetacean morbillivirus. 

Cetacean morbillivirus is known to have caused several cetacean unusual mortality events, and with infectious disease outbreaks becoming more frequent in marine mammal populations, understanding the threat this and other diseases may pose to the Southern Residents is crucial for their conservation.

Using five years of photographs collected by the Center for Whale Research, researchers at the University of Exeter, the University of York, and the CWR created a social network model of the population’s contact patterns, and then simulated the spread of a morbillivirus-like disease over this network. The results, published in Biological Conservation, are sobering: in most cases, the majority of the population became infected. In addition, vaccinating a portion of the population prior to the introduction of the disease wasn’t particularly effective at reducing epidemics. 

Given their vulnerability, and the difficulty of effective vaccination, this study is further evidence of the urgent need to promote improved health in this population. There are numerous ways to do this, with the most urgent being to ensure adequate nutrition through the recovery of Chinook salmon stocks."


Michael received his Bachelor’s degree in biology from Reed College in 2016, following the completion of a thesis on the social structure of Southern Resident killer whales. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Exeter in South West England, United Kingdom, where his work centers around the evolutionary and conservation consequences of killer whale social structure. His work centers around developing statistical methods for analyzing social structure using the CWR’s long-term dataset, as well as gaining new insights into killer whale behavior using footage from unmanned aerial systems.

Read the Q&A with Michael Weiss in the September 2018 issue of the WHALE Report.


Weiss, M. N., D. W. Franks, K. C. Balcomb, D. K. Ellifrit, M. J. Silk, M. A. Cant and D. P. Croft (2020). Modelling cetacean morbillivirus outbreaks in an endangered killer whale population. Biological Conservation 242: 108398. Full Text.

Other PUBLISHED studies

Visit Research Publications at for a list of publications where the Center for Whale Research has had involvement. 

Outreach & Education

CWR Outreach & Education

The Center for Whale Research works tirelessly and relentlessly advocating for immediate action by politicians and government agencies to reverse the dramatic decline of Chinook salmon stocks in Southern Resident killer whale habitat. At every opportunity, CWR team members speak out boldly in the media concerning the sick and starving SRKWs. We reach out to as many people as possible with focused educational and Take Action messages: Through speaking engagements, social media channels and WhaleResearch.comtargeted advertising campaigns, and face to face discussions with visitors to the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor.

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Ken Balcomb speaking about the struggles experienced by the Southern Resident orcas.

Outreach ACTION: Speaking Engagement

On Wednesday, February 5, CWR's Ken Balcomb spoke at the 19th Annual Stream Restoration Symposium at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. The five day symposium was presented by​ River Restoration Northwest, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. The title of Ken's presentation was Southern Resident Killer Whales - Top Predators in need of a Restored Ecosystem.

ABSTRACT: Killer whales have been known since antiquity as voracious marine predators in all oceans, and they have played an iconic role in the mythology of indigenous coastal communities in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Only in the recent 50 years have scientists been able to really “know” killer whales as a result of individual recognition techniques (photo-identification), molecular genetic techniques, and innovative studies involving drones, fecal sampling, and acoustic research. The speaker will provide a brief history of the development of these techniques so that participants may appreciate and distinguish knowledge gained by scientific methods in contrast to mythologies in past and present human societies. 

Read the full presentation on the River Restoration Northwest website (available in April 2020).

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The Seattle Times recognized members of the Washington community for their contributions during the past year. CWR's Ken Balcomb was on this list. 

Thanks for the gifts of integrity, charity and grit

By The Seattle Times editorial board


"Ken Balcomb works tenaciously to boost Puget Sound’s endangered orca population through the Center for Whale Research, which he founded in 1985, and as a member of the governor’s Orca Task Force."


Editor’s note: Once again, The Seattle Times editorial board is celebrating real givers in our community — people who have improved our quality of life, or even just our mood — through generosity, commitment to public service, business or sporting accomplishments.


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 44 years of research of killer whales (orcas) in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands.


Outreach & Education Center 

185 S. 1st St, Friday Harbor,

San Juan Island, WA   

Hours: Fri - Sun / 10am - 4pm

CWR's ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center opened its doors in Friday Harbor in the Summer of 2018. Since then, close to 14,000 people from across North America and around the globe have stopped by and learned from knowledgeable CWR staff and volunteers about killer whales and how they can help the struggling population of Southern Resident orcas.

​ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center ATTRACTIONS:

  • 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 on a whirlwind 5-minute video ride aboard the Center for Whale Research's research vessel, Orca, when field researchers encounter whales.

  • Computer 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.  

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

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

  • Monday Movie Night. On select Mondays throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall, see a film from our vast media archives and video vault.​ Last year's movies included: The Breach, DamNation, The Whale, and Dammed to Extinction.

Education ACTION:
ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center

Learn about new attractions, upcoming lectures, and Monday Movie Night films at


Locals and visitors gathered at the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center for MONDAY Movie Night.

ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center visitor taking a close look at the Bigg's Transient killer whale skull.



We cannot stress enough how much we appreciate your financial gifts. Honestly, we could not do what we do without you. See your money in action as you scroll through this issue of the WHALE Report.


PLEASE continue to support our important work.


Setting our sights on the future

One of our ongoing financial goals is to increase the Center for Whale Research (CWR) membership. And we are steadily heading in the right direction. For those of you who have been encouraging others to join the ranks, THANK YOU. 

Here's how current CWR members can help toward our goal of increasing membership. If you know someone whom you think would like to learn more about the Southern Resident killer whales, send them the link to this page via email. We hope that they will read, learn, and decide to be like you and support our recovery efforts on behalf of the local orcas.

Take ACTION this way too

In addition to your financial support of CWR, go to the

Take ACTION page at to learn how you can make a difference in the effort to save the SRKW.

A tangible outcome of individuals taking action occurred in February when Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent a letter to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, offering her support for removing the Snake River dams. CWR thanks Governor Brown for listening and her bravery to advocate a discussion to fact-find and solve the salmon problem in the Snake River dam issue.


Also in February, a supporter of the Center For Whale Research wrote a letter to Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, NOAA, and the other government entities that we suggested on our website. She received this from Senator Cantwell. Senator Cantwell's reply.


Please let Governor Brown know we support her actions. Here is a link to Governor Brown’s website that makes it simple to thank her.

Have you downloaded the Orca ID Guides?

Do you know which Southern Resident orcas and Bigg's/Transient killer whales are related to which? Do you know how old each of the whales is?

If not, have a look at the Center for Whale Research's SRKW ID GUIDE and Bigg's/TRANSIENT ID GUIDE. A PDF download of each guide is a CWR membership benefit.​

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The Southern Resident orcas inhabit ocean waters managed by the United States and Canadian governments.

Recovery actions announced by the Government of Canada on May 10, 2019, are meant to enhance Chinook salmon stocks for the SRKWs, as well as improve foraging conditions. Read Whales Initiative: Protecting the Southern Resident Killer Whale and 2019 management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales (Canada's Marine Mammal Regulations). Time will tell whether these recovery actions have been effective. You can comment on these new rules: 

  • Send a letter, phone, or e-mail the NEW Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan, and the NEW Minister of Environment & Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson.

Contact: The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, 200 Kent Street, Station 15N100, Ottawa, Ontario, KlA 0E6; 866-266-6603 (

Contact: The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment & Climate Change Canada, 200 Sacre-Coeur Boulevard, Gatineau, Quebec, KlA 0H3; 819-938-3813;

  • Canadian organizations making real progress on the issues of salmon and orca health and recovery:

Raincoast Conservation Foundation

David Suzuki Foundation

Ecojustice Canada

NRDC Canada

SHOP in support of the Southern Resident orcas!

Give the Orcas a foot up! The ORCA SOCK by Seattle-based Kavu. Walk with the SRKWs every day. Kavu is generously donating 20% of the profits from sales of these socks to CWR! Buy the ORCA SOCK at and other Kavu retailers. The socks are also available for purchase at the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor. 

Photo Cards by Lodie. 100% of your purchase supports continued CWR orca research! Swing by your local PCC Community Markets and stock up on cards that support a cause. Kudos to PCC for their ongoing support of the environment and the amazing naturalists that generously contributed their stunning photographs of whales.

Raise money with a Facebook Fundraiser 

Here's another great way to raise money in support of the Southern Resident orcas and Center for Whale Research. Click here to set up your own Facebook Fundraiser. The following people set up Facebook Fundraisers as one their birthday wishes in January and February.

  • Facebook fundraiser for Center for Whale Research by Ashley Scheinfeld, raised $135 USD 

  • Facebook fundraiser for Center for Whale Research by Hazel Oak Thompson, raised $120 USD

  • Facebook fundraiser for Center for Whale Research by Vanessa Michelle, raised $80 USD

  • Facebook fundraiser for Center for Whale Research by Cal Gal, raised $55 USD

Thank you Ashley, Hazel, Vanessa, and Cal for thinking of the whales.

Photo Download

Card rack at Canyon Park PCC PCC Community Markets.

Download the BEST
of the Best from 2020 CWR encounters

Mark Malleson took this photograph of J47 spyhopping during Encounter #9 on February 25, 2020.

Is there something you would like us to cover in an upcoming newsletter?

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