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Resident Orcas and Native Art

The Dorsal Spin
Ino (L54) with nursing calf Keta (L117). Josh McInnes photo, 2013
Ino (L54) with nursing calf Keta (L117). Josh McInnes photo, 2013

Throughout November, Southern Resident orcas have teased us a few times by changing direction between Dilworth and the north end ferry lanes -- dashing hopes of any Point Robinson encounters. One of those occasions was at Loop deadline! Fortunately, our intrepid colleagues Mark and Maya Sears deployed in their research boat, in the rain, to obtain identification photos and collect samples.

Confirmed IDs include K Pod and the exotic L54s, who rarely visit Vashon. Born in 1977, matriarch Ino (L54) travels with a male entourage consisting of her two sons, Coho (L108), born 2006; Keta (L117), born 2010; and two adult orphans, Nyssa (L84), born 1990, and Wave Walker (L88), born 1993. Nyssa and Wave Walker are the lone survivors of their matrilines.

To elaborate on my standard reminder: Please support the work of the Vashon Hydrophone Project (VHP): REPORT LOCAL WHALE SIGHTINGS & STRANDINGS ASAP TO 206-463-9041. When reporting a sighting or stranding, be specific: date, time, location, travel direction, species description, number of whales/critters, and behavior observed. We prefer phone reports, but if email is the only way to coax you to report to us, send sightings and photos to Your photos of marine mammals are valuable for ID purposes.

Mark Sears launches from West Seattle, so timely reports from all Vashon ferry routes are extremely useful. Surely, one or two Islanders could call when whales grace the commute. Leave a number in case we need more details. Do not assume we will find stuff posted online by happenstance. As ever, we are grateful to everyone who reports directly to us.
We DO NOT disseminate sightings to whale watch boats. Noise and disturbance from whale watching vessels threaten the recovery of our remaining 76 critically endangered Southern Residents.

November is Native American Heritage Month. Through the holidays, Tlingit artist and master carver Odin Lonning’s stunning, award-winning work is on display at Bookman West, inside Minglement. The show features traditional and contemporary pieces that honor Killer Whales and other Animal Relations. At a time yet to be determined, Odin will speak about how fundamentals of Tlingit art and culture inspire his work. Native societies do not compartmentalize art. First Nations embrace the intimate connections among art, science, sense of place, and spirituality. Indigenous wisdom now commands more attention from a world rapidly losing biological and cultural diversity. For more information call 206-463-9041, visit, or email