Photo credit: Jill Hein Photography
Did you know you can watch for whales anytime anywhere from the comfort of your home?
If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a whale or a pod from our beaches. In Langley, that’s an excuse to ring the Whale Bell. Standing by the water in the spring can get a little chilly, which is one reason Whidbey Telecom worked with Village Pizzeria to install a Whale Camera at their waterfront restaurant. Sit at home and watch the water, and when you get hungry or want to see them yourself drop by for a comfy window seat. Or, watch the Whales Episode of WhidbeyTV’s Curious Island series for Sarah Boin’s insights and perspective on our big wet neighbors.
We’ve got whales, and we get to celebrate them. Saturday, April 8th is this year’s Welcome the Whales Parade and Festival, an event so popular with whale enthusiasts that sometimes the whales show up, too. Even if they are busy elsewhere, it is a good opportunity to have fun, hang out with fellow islanders, and maybe even join in the parade.
The event is inspired by the return of the migrating gray whales who come to feed on the ghost shrimp in the shallows off Whidbey, Camano, and Hat Islands; but our waters also hold minke whales, fin whales, humpbacks, and of course, the orcas. Thanks to their tall dorsal fins, orcas are the easiest to spot. Add in porpoises and seals to make Puget Sound a world-wide destination for whale watching.
The grays visit Langley for the fine dining on their long journey from Mexico to Alaska. While they are here, several boats will be operating from Langley’s marina (sail the Mystic Sea), and Everett (Island Adventures). Thanks to the work of Orca Network (the organizers of the parade and the operators of the Whale Center), islanders and captains help track the whales, making it much easier to spot a whale.
Orca Network started as a fun way for locals to share their stories, but it has also become a useful resource for marine biologists. The organization (which is largely funded by private donations) brings visibility to many kinds of whales. For the grays, it even conducts trips to the birthing lagoons in Mexico, and helps with other research organizations throughout the world.
Because of their regular visits the gray whales that visit Whidbey, Camano, and Hat Islands are one of the most studied whale species on the planet; and very little is known about them. We can see them eat, but there are debates about how they do it. They are magnificent enigmas, regardless. We hope to see them and you at the parade. For the rest of the season, tune in to the Whale Cam and Orca Network for a unique show.