Silverdale loves orcas

Silverdale’s Whaling Days came early this year as a group of 10-15 orcas visited Dyes Inlet Tuesday and Wednesday. The sea mammals wowed crowds in Chico and Tracyton with their breaching, blowing and splashing.

“It just takes your breath away. It’s an awesome part of God’s work,” said Toni Bourner of Kingston. She and 3-year-old daughter Trinity watched from the Chico waterfront as the whales periodically came up to the surface.

The group of transient, or mammal-eating, whales came into the inlet Tuesday most likely looking for food, experts said.

At least two of the whales are believed to be the same group of 15 spotted May 17 near the San Juan Islands.

“They’re going from one buffet to another,” said Susan Berta, director for the Orca Network based in Greenbank. The whales left the inlet by Thursday.

The Cascadia Research Collective of Olympia identified two of the whales and took photographs of them. There is believed to be five young whales and a few adult males in the pod Berta said.

Each time the whales made an appearance there were excited squeals from the crowd at the Tracyton boat ramp on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier that morning the whales were swimming closer to Silverdale.

“If the whales came in front of our house, I would get them out of school,” was the deal Carol Rainey made with her daughter Megan, 12. They came down to the boat launch searching for the orcas. In 1997, the last time orcas swam into Dyes Inlet, Megan was 6.

Nineteen orcas spent about 10 days in Dyes Inlet feasting on salmon and entertaining crowds. These whales were part of the L pod, one of three pods residing in the area.

“That was pretty incredible,” Carol said. They kept a scrapbook of that visit — reportedly the first in 35 years.

“They’re going to get noticed if they’re in (Dyes Inlet),” said Brad Hanson, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. He called the spot out of the way but not an unreasonable place for whales to visit.

“They need to be left to go about their business,” Hanson said.

In 1997 hundreds of boaters went to the inlet to get a closer look at the huge beasts, but experts urged people to stay on the shore

They also caught the attention of local media and government officials.

Kitsap County Commissioners issued an ordinance Wednesday to protect the whales from marine traffic.

Vicki Brockbank of East Bremerton brought her 2-year-old grandson Drew Dickson to watch the whales.

“I like it. I love the outdoors,” Brockbank said in between peeks through her binoculars. “I’m from upstate New York so it’s a thrill to see the whales.”

“It’s not every day you get to see orcas close to where you live,” said Bill Vale of Suquamish.

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