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Local sailor spots orcas in Bellingham Bay

Josh Marshall was on his sailboat with friends Monday night, May 2, when they spotted a pod of orcas in Bellingham Bay.
Josh Marshall was on his sailboat with friends Monday night, May 2, when they spotted a pod of orcas in Bellingham Bay. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Josh Marshall lives on a boat, works on boats and goes sailing several times a week, but after eight years living here he’s never seen an orca — until Monday night.

Marshall went sailing with friends on Bellingham Bay May 2, but winds were light and most other boats headed in to Squalicum Harbor. When the winds finally kicked up, Marshall “started scooting across” the bay when he spotted a pod of orcas near Whatcom Waterway and the former Georgia-Pacific site on Bellingham’s waterfront.

“They came right up to our bow and were being playful. They were goofing off like dolphins,” Marshall said.

The meeting was brief, Marshall said, after a motorboat under full power and then four personal watercraft spooked the whales and sent them on a deep dive “and they were just gone.”

The sighting was a first for Marshall, who owns Marshall and Sons Marine Services and is getting his 40-foot sailboat certified for charter sails. The Baltimore native has sailed Chesapeake Bay, in the Carribean and around Hawaii.

“I go out nearly every day and that was the first time I’ve seen orcas anywhere around here,” Marshall said. “I was starting to think they were a myth, a black-and-white myth.”

Marshall posted photos of the orcas to Facebook and they became a viral hit, thanks to friends like Bellingham artist Jody Bergsma, who shared his images.

“I used to think my (3-year-old son) was the king of my Facebook page, because I post a lot of photos of him,” Marshall said. “But this has completely gone locally viral.”

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Jim Donaldson: 360-715-2288.

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