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Where to see whales in Seattle this winter

A photo of orcas out in the Puget Sound.

Transient pod T123 takes a breath and shows off baby T123D. | Photo by Jann Pulfer Ledbetter


Worried you missed prime whale watching season in the Puget Sound? Not so fast. 🐋

While a Google search will tell you the season only lasts from May to October, recent sightings and professional whale watchers suggest otherwise.

“Last December, there was actually only one day where we didn’t see any whales,” Puget Sound Express Office Manager Taylor Chaffee said.

The time frame for whale watching season corresponds to typical migratory patterns of the whales as they chase their food up and down the coast. However, even the transient orcas still travel to our area in the colder months.

The Whale Trail will tell you that winter is actually better for catching a sight of these mammals in our area, as opposed to the San Juans (and don’t forget about that wandering Beluga whale from last month).

So, looking to catch some fin? Here are a couple of options:

Puget Sound Express
Located just over in Edmonds, this is the closest whale watching tour for Seattleites this winter. Tours begin at 11:30 a.m., but sailing days change frequently.

Washington State Ferries
While you won’t have the added benefit of a whole boat dedicated to searching for whales, the ferries can be a great option for trying to track down these beauties. Just be sure to check that whale tracker before you head out to maximize your chances.

Want to learn more? Check out:

The Whale Museum | 62 First St., Friday Harbor | 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • Whale exhibits, educational classes, and marine naturalist trainings

The Center for Whale Research | 185 S. First St., Friday Harbor | 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • Interactive exhibits and lots of information on their website about orcas, recent sightings, and conservation efforts

The Orca Network

  • This organization’s website tracks sightings, deaths & births, and helps out with strandings
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