22 May 2010, 10:21pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin

Orcas sighting near Longview

Tom Paulu, Longview Daily News, 05/22/10 [here]

LONGVIEW — Scott White had stopped for construction on Ocean Beach Highway just west of Longview on Monday and was passing time sitting on the guardrail.

Then, he’s sure, he saw a couple of killer whales surface about 25 feet off the river bank.

“It happened so fast,” White said. “Up they came and took a breather, and then I didn’t see them no more.”

White is positive they were orcas, not the sea lions and seals commonly seen in the Columbia.

“You don’t see a white-and-black seal, and they ain’t 20 feet long,” he said.

White, who was stopped for highway construction near Germany Creek, surmises it was a mother and calf following the spring chinook run up the river.

Experts say that killer whales indeed might appear that far up the Columbia, more than 50 river miles from its mouth.

Brad James, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in the Vancouver office, said that in the 1980s he saw a pod of killer whales in the Columbia below the Megler-Astoria bridge. Co-workers have seen orcas in the Columbia River Estuary, but James said he hasn’t heard of them as far upstream as Germany Creek, which is well above the river’s salt water zone.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in there,” said Dyanna Lambourn, a WDFW biologist who works with marine mammals. She said salmon would draw them into the river.

Her office hadn’t received any reports of orcas in the Columbia. … [more]



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