Ways of Whales returns

An annual whale-centric event is making its way back to in-person programming.

An annual whale-centric event is making its way back to in-person programming.

Since 2002, the Orca Network has hosted the Ways of Whales workshop, an educational event about whales of the Salish Sea. During the past two years, the event has attracted attendees from around the globe because of the virtual format.

This year, organizers are adopting a hybrid approach, meaning attendees can choose to come to the Coupeville High School Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 14 or opt to listen to the event’s speakers in real time through Zoom. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., with the last presentation of the day ending at 5 p.m.

This year’s theme focuses on the southern resident orcas. Keynote speaker John Ford, a researcher of the acoustic dialects of orcas, will discuss their culture in his presentation, “The Cultural Lives of Killer Whales: A Mixed Blessing.” Howard Garrett, co-founder of Orca Network, and Ellie Kinley of the Lummi Nation plan to share an update about efforts to bring home the famous captive southern resident who is known by many names, including Lolita, Tokitae and Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut. A panel of six experts will cover orca genetics, habitat use, social interactions and prey sharing, and programs that use skin, breath and fecal samples to analyze the killer whales’ health.

One part of the day will stray from talk of the southern residents and the Salish Sea. Kate Stafford from Oregon State University will lead a presentation on bowhead whales, a species of baleen whales that swim only in arctic and subarctic waters.

Happening alongside the presentations will be a silent auction, displays from Orca Network “pod partners” and items from the Langley Whale Center’s gift shop. Participants can pay an additional $20 to reserve a lunch made by the Coupeville School District’s Connected Food Program, but must sign up for the lunch by Monday, Jan. 9.

At the end of the day, a slideshow remembering Sandy Dubpernell and Ken Balcomb will be shared.

The registration fee for general admission is $40 and $30 for senior citizens and students. A limited number of scholarships are available by request. Contact cindy@orcanetwork.org for more information. To register, visit orcanetwork.org/events.