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03/03/2006 – People at Boston Harbor report that a few orcas -- also known as killer whales -- are hanging out in their part of Budd Inlet.
These whales may be members of the transient orca pod that visited Puget Sound last year and spent weeks dining on seals. Orcas zip around Puget Sound pretty quickly, so they may be on the other side of Harstine Island -- or off Seattle -- when you read this.
Then again, they may show up under the Fourth Avenue Bridge. Remember when the two gray whales spent a day hanging out under the old Fourth Avenue Bridge a few years ago?
I hit the journalistic jackpot that day and got to ride around with Olympia whale biologist John Calambokidis in his skiff. Olympian photograher Tony Overman was along as well, and it was one of the most amazing days of our lives.
Calambokidis was trying to figure out why the whales were so deep in Budd Inlet, and I recall how he kept hoping that the whales would swim out to deeper water.
The gray whales were swimming all over the place, and they finned right under the boat a couple of times. I got chills when one of the whales turned sideways and gazed at us with a softball-sized eye.
I also remember the crowds of people running back and forth on the old bridge to see the whales. The Olympia Police Department was stopping traffic to let the crowd race around in safety.
The gray whales eventually headed out of Budd Inlet. It was an amazing sight.
Anyway, if you're out on the water and see the orcas, don't turn your boat toward them. It's illegal to approach orcas and whales. If they swim up to your boat, stay calm and enjoy the spectacle.