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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Orca Web Cams

Update October 2011: As this post remains popular for people looking for orca web cams, I've gone through the checked all the links. The only one that is now inactive is the Center for Whale Research webcam, which may be restored by next season. The best web cam for viewing Southern Residents is the controllable Race Rocks web cam - see below. You can also see lots of other wildlife like seals, sea lions, and sea birds from this cam.

Google Analytics is a great tool for monitoring traffic to your website. For instance, I've learned that a lot of people seem to find my blog while searching for orca web cams. While of course nothing even comes close to seeing the whales live, I know a lot of people like to monitor the whales from far away. I thought I would share some of the web cams I know about where it is possible to see whales, plus a way to listen for the whales.

First of all, the Center for Whale Research web cam (edit October 2011: this webcam is temporarily down, but video highlights can be seen from this link) is great because its located on the west side of San Juan Island overlooking Haro Strait, one of the Southern Residents' most common traveling routes in the summer months. You can also control the movements of the camera yourself.

Another great one is the Race Rocks Camera 5, which is another video remote-control camera. Race Rocks are located west of Victoria in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is the main route the whales take when coming in and leaving to the Pacific Ocean.

These first two are the best, because they are controllable video web cams with a proven ability to see and follow the orcas. But, here are a few other still cameras (that update very minute or so) that overlook areas the orcas often travel, though they are untested as far as I know for actually seeing the orcas. You'd probably see the whale-watching boats first, then know to look for the orcas in many of these:

Island Cam has one that overlooks Rosario Strait from Anacortes. It may be possible to see orcas from this one in the summertime, because they frequently travel in Rosario Strait past Anacortes as they circumnavigate the San Juan Islands. Another good potential Island Cam is this one that looks west from Hannah Heights, which is a little south from Lime Kiln on San Juan Island.

Here's a webcam overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Gordon's Beach in Sooke, BC, another place the orcas travel past on their comings and goings from the San Juan Islands. The same network of BC web cams has another good one near Ogden Point, BC, further east in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

A lot of people ask about what happened to the web cams that used to be up at Lime Kiln Lighthouse, and if they're ever going to come back. Those cameras were bought and maintained under a grant The Whale Museum had for the Sea Sound project, and after that funding was used up there wasn't any way to maintain the cameras. So, for the foreseeable future, there won't be any web cams at Lime Kiln.

You don't necessarily have to be in Washington or BC to see the Southern Resident orcas, especially this time of year! On January 21st and January 24th, L-Pod was seen from the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, Oregon. This whale watch center mostly focuses on following the gray whale migration, but they spotted L-Pod twice last month! As more people know what to look for to identify the Southern Residents, it's becoming more and more apparent that L-Pod and likely K-Pod spend at least part of their winters off the Oregon and California coasts. There have been California sightings of both K- and L-Pods as far south as Monterey, California on several occassions over the last few years.

Finally, you can also remotely follow the Southern Resident's movements acoustically, via Here you can find a network of hydrophones (underwater microphones) streaming live on the internet. The best hydrophones to listen to are Lime Kiln, Orca Sound (a few miles north of Lime Kiln on the west side of San Juan Island), and Port Townsend for when the whales come and go through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Not only will you have a chance to hear the orcas, but you can monitor their underwater environment and hear everything from the rushing tides to freighters to scuba divers.

I hope this helps you out in following the orcas from near or far. Definitely let me know if you have any success seeing or hearing them!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Thanks for the links Monika, tried the orca cam and found... brambles! Those prickly little blighters get everywhere!


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coppertop said...

Great page! thanx ever so much! :)

Iconko said...

Monika, that's a great stuff you are talking about. Orca web cameras really function well and provide a nice quality of video and sound. This is an inexpensive and profitable solution for me. indeed.

Crenke said...

What about OrcaLab?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you do in aiding the ability to follow these wonderful creatures. However, the second cam is now temporarily down as well.