Clark 1 Land-based versus water based observation of Orcinus orca near San Juan Island, Washington
Southern resident killer whales seasonally inhabit the Salish Sea waters of British Columbia and Washington and are unique in their feeding behavior. This endangered subpopulation is also a valued resource that has led to a large whale watch industry. Whale watch boats are potentially a threat to the orcas’ well being. As a means of assessing alternative ways to view whales, I observed orcas from land, on the west side of San Juan Island, and from three vessels. Results showed no remarkable difference between platforms in ability to detect whales and behaviors, suggesting that whale watch boats are not the only way to see whales during summer. I also observed patterns in my data, correlating the whales’ movement with tides and currents.