March whale sightings proved to be an “embarrassment of riches” for the Salish Sea and those keeping an eye out over it. 

The resident gray whales, known locally as “Sounders,” were joined by their brethren on their way south to Baja, California. Puget Sound Express whale watching tour boats out of Edmonds Marina found two returning “newbie” gray whales who may have chosen the calmer waters of the Sound over the rough seas during the late-March windstorm. (Check out our video of grays breaching, feeding, and playing in the Salish Sea here.)

“CRC 2356 was the first returning newcomer we spotted, associating with veteran sounder CRC44, Dubknuck. 2356 was first documented in Puget Sound in 2020 and he spent much of the summer feeding at the Snohomish River Delta,” Puget Sound Express shared in their social media. 

“Later we spotted another returning newcomer,” PSE added, “CRC2255, hanging out with CRC53, Little Patch. CRC2255 was first seen in our area in 2019. This is exciting news that more of our ‘newbies’ from 2019 and 2020 are returning for some spring-time feeding in the Sound. This should bring our number of gray whales that have shown up this year to about 14 now!”

The tour groups have also been treated to visits from three transient orca family groups, the T46s, T65As, and T77s. The T65As and T77s have been traveling together in and out of the Hood Canal and down into Puget Sound, including near the Edmonds-Kingston ferry crossing.

Gray whales are rather solitary in nature, but they can put on a show of spouting and feeding for shrimp on the shores, where they’ll leave wide patches of disturbed sand.

The Camano Island Whale Watch group shares their sightings from drone, boat, and shore regularly, including the beautiful photographs shared here by John C. Storbeck. The whales, Storbeck says, were part of a crew of four grays and four orcas that Port Susan Whale Watchers were reporting April 2.