Stuck at home? Take out your binoculars

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Annie and Charlie Karl were overlooking the water at Fort Worden’s boat launch when they noticed some movement in the water on March 21.

Charlie noticed it first, Annie said. Swimming around a sailboat were two orca whales, headed in the direction of Point Hudson.

“We practically ran out on the pier to watch them go by,” Charlie said.

The two whales, likely transient, swam underneath the dock on which the Karls stood.

Looking down into the water, the Karls had a perfect view of the two whales, who Annie said seemed to be playing, doing barrel rolls and splashing just below the surface of the water.

“There was one really large one and one small one, with a seal in its mouth,” Annie said.

Frequently going on walks through Fort Worden—which is still open for walkers and bikers—the Karls regularly experience the beauty of our natural surroundings. But whale sightings make it extra special.

“It was extremely cool,” she said. “I’d say it was a once-in-a-lifetime special privilege.”

Though she has seen orcas before—one time encountering a large pod swimming past Point Wilson—Annie said this was the closest she had ever seen them. She has lived in Port Townsend for 30 years.

“It definitely puts stuff into perspective,” she said.

While Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay-at-home” order requires Washingtonians to stay at home and keep themselves and others safe from spreading the coronavirus, it doesn’t mean residents can’t take in the natural wonders surrounding them.

“This (order) does not prohibit people from merely going outside to enjoy a walk on a sunny spring day,” Inslee said.

For Jefferson County residents, that could mean taking a walk along the beach with a pair of binoculars to search the seas for whale encounters. Just be sure to stay 6 feet away from other walkers.

See a whale? Document your sighting on the Orca Watch Network. 

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