Whale sightings signal spring on Whidbey Island

Some of Whidbey’s most beloved transient residents are beginning to make their spring debut.

The first returning whale of the season was reported on March 3 between Greenbank and Cama Beach according to the Orca Network. The whale was thought to be No. 53, one of the 10 to 12 “Saratoga Grays” who feed off the coast of the island during the spring. No. 53 has been spotted in 13 different years with its first sighting dating back to 1991.

Since then, there has been little whale activity near Whidbey, but a few gray whale sightings in the Saratoga Passage were called into the Orca Network over the weekend.

The Orca Network will host its annual “Welcome the Whales” celebration in Langley from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 23. The event includes the parade of species through downtown, as well as  demonstrations and children’s activities.

When whales are sighted, the boaters should keep their speed to less than 7 knots. It is unlawful to be within 100 yards of a killer whale in Washington.

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