OFF SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. – Marine experts are investigating the behavior of a distressed orca in the San Juan islands Friday.
Experts at Soundwatch, an organization which monitors marine traffic around high density whale-watching areas, originially believed the whale could have been hit by a boat. However, that was later discounted, and officials said it's possible the whale is pregnant, hormonal, or in some other distress.
Marine environmental consultant Fred Felleman says the whale, named L-90, is part of the L pod. It was reported to be resting on top of the water.
SkyKING flew over the a pod Friday afternoon in the San Juans and saw about a dozen whales swim along the shorelines, and under boats. None appeared visibly sickened or injured.
Soundwatch reported other whales periodically hovered at the surface around the distressed whale, something Felleman calls unusual considering how much attention the injured whale is getting from observers.
Washington state Fisheries officials and representatives from the Center for Whale Research are investigating.
Russ Mullens with the Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that the orca has been found and appears to be fine - no evidence that it was struck by a boat. It's not known if the whale is pregnant.