Changes seen, new names needed for some North Puget Sound gray whales

Researchers from Cascadia Research and the Orca Network are reporting some new developments for the North Puget Sound gray whales — also known as Sounders gray whales.

They are also inviting the public to vote for name options for several unnamed whales.

The Sounders whales return every spring to feed in the waters around Everett, Camano Island and Whidbey Island.

Some of the new developments documented by researchers include:

  • A continuing trend of more whales joining the feeding group, and arriving earlier and staying longer.

  • Some of the whales are not just feeding in the North Puget Sound in spring. One whale has been in the feeding area for a year, and two others arrived early this year.

  • The whales have shown they are able to survive challenges to the overall gray whale population, which shows the value of their feeding time spent in the North Puget Sound, where there are ample ghost shrimp in the area.

In addition, there are some new events where the public can participate with the Sounders.

  • A poll for people to vote for name options for five whales will be open from Mar. 29 to Apr. 2. The link will be available once the poll opens.

  • A Welcome the Whales event sponsored by the Orca Network will be held in Langley on Apr. 15 and 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., to celebrate the return of the Sounders with a parade, presentation, and other activities.