For the second year in a row, the region’s endangered orcas have been missing from their key habitat around the San Juan Islands for months at a time.
Some of the endangered orcas popped up just west of San Juan Island Friday night, but they appeared to head west toward the open ocean again.
Before that brief visit, none of the endangered southern resident killer whales had been spotted in inland waters since April 10.
Researchers say a continued decline of Chinook salmon from Canada’s Fraser River, just north of the San Juans, gives orcas less reason to visit their usual haunts this time of year.
A “test fishery,” used to predict the size of incoming salmon runs, caught zero Chinook salmon off the mouth of the Fraser in May. Their absence from the catch was unprecedented.