Whale Bell Park
Spring brings with it a special excitement for Whidbey. As the waters warm, we welcome back one of our favorite travelers; whales! Orcas and Gray Whales grace the Puget Sound waters every spring on their migration to the wild waves of Alaska.
Luckily, sightings are not at all uncommon on the island. To commemorate the love we have for these ocean friends, both Coupeville and Langley have erected what is called a “Whale Bell.” These bells have a simple instruction: “See a whale, ring the bell.” These bells serve as both a monument to the whale’s impact on our island culture and a creative way to notify others of the whale’s presence so they can also look out and see! So next time you’re at the water’s edge, keep a keen eye on those beautiful blue waves.
Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series here.
Best Places to Whale Watch on Whidbey
Discover the Best Places to Whale Watch
When it comes to natural wonders, Whidbey Island is unbelievably blessed. With expansive undeveloped areas, nine state parks, and views that take your breath away, it’s hard to imagine it could get any better.
But it does!
In addition to our incredible outdoor opportunities for explorers, we are one of the few places in the world where land-dwellers have an opportunity to get a glimpse of some spectacular mammals of the sea. Puget Sound’s cold and nutrient-rich water makes it the perfect place for whales to roam. Although you could spend the money to board a whale-watching boat and find the mammals out on the water, boats aren’t always required when you’re on Whidbey.
Below are the top 5 places to see whales from land on Whidbey!
At the west-most point of Oak Harbor lies a stretch of beach beloved by wanderers and sea life alike. With wide-open views and miles of ocean just off the shore, it’s not hard to see why West Beach is one of the best places to see whales near Whidbey.
The nutrient-rich water of Penn Cove cultivates a thriving ecosystem for small and large sea life. It’s this sea life in the form of ghost shrimp and fat seals that attracts the attention of gray whales and transient Orca alike. It’s not uncommon for the residents of Penn Cove to see a gray whale’s tail break the surface of the water as they dig in the mudflats for shrimp or a full-on chase between a stealthy Orca and a seal.
What this public beach lacks in amenities it makes up for with view and privacy. On a sunny day, beach-goers have the opportunity to see Camano Island sitting peacefully across the Saratoga Passage and – if they come at just the right time – maybe even a whale!
Just north of this charming seaside community is a county park boasting nothing more than public access to the Lagoon Point community beach. Luckily access to the beach is really all you need to catch a glimpse of traveling orcas or scavenging grey whales.
Hidden below the streets of downtown Langley is a quaint little park with beautiful art, well-maintained landscaping, and a spectacular view of the Saratoga Passage. Onlookers often have the wonderful treat of seeing a whale pass or even watch them feed in the massive ghost shrimp beds. If you do, don’t forget to ring the Whale Bell!
Bonus: Your own back porch?
Can you say “waterfront property”? Yes, please! Our beautiful island has many waterfront homes and properties with beautiful views of Puget Sound. How amazing would it be to sip coffee on your own patio while enjoying pods of orca passing by or gray whales feeding on the beach right in front of you? If this sounds like your dream, give us a call today!
Now, remember, if you do see a whale you should report it to the Orca Network! Reporting sightings to the Orca Network helps with scientific efforts and helps other whale watchers like yourself!
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The Gray Whales Return to Whidbey
Gray Whales Return to Whidbey
As the cold melts away and flowers start to bloom again, Whidbey Island is blessed with a rare and wonderful gift. Many people hike to the very tip of a bluff or edge of the waves hoping to catch a glimpse of this phenomenon. Then it happens – water spurts into the air from nowhere and at the surface, you can just barely see a tail appear.
Oh, what a whale of a tale to tell….
Spring brings with it a special excitement for this curious island. As the waters warm, they welcome back one of our favorite travelers; the gray whale! Migrating every year from their winter home in Mexico to the wild waves of Alaska; gray whales often make a special stop within the waters of the Puget Sound.
As food foragers, the gray whale “dig[s] up the mudflats [on the ocean floor] for shrimp and worms.”1 They then filter these small creatures through their baleen, or whalebone, which acts as a strainer to keep the food in their mouth and push out all the water.2
Given their foraging requirements, gray whales’ proximity to the shore and repetitive presence in the Puget Sound comes as little surprise. While the average depth of the Pacific Ocean is a little over 12,000 feet, Puget Sound’s deepest point is approximately 930 feet. The shallow waters of the sound serve as a great benefit to this massive mammal that relies on both oxygen and access to the ocean floor in order to survive.
On Whidbey Island, we take great joy in the return of these travelers every year. Many islanders and tourists alike find their way to the water’s edge and peer into the waves in hopes of a glimpse. Luckily, sightings are not at all uncommon on the island. To commemorate the love we have for these ocean friends, both Coupeville and Langley have erected what is called a “Whale Bell.” These bells have a simple instruction: “See a whale, ring the bell.” These bells serve as both a monument to the whale’s impact on our island culture and a creative way to notify others of the whale’s presence so they can also look out and see!
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Every year the town of Langley has pulled together to commemorate the beginning of whale season. Complete with a parade, this festival speaks volumes of the love islanders have for their precious whales. Unfortunately, the event has been canceled this year due to covid for the health and safety of the community continue to check back here for updates. While the ring of the bell brings joyous memories of years past residences and travelers alike look forward to a day where gatherings return to celebrate these incredible creatures.
- “Gray Whales.” Orca Network, https://www.orcanetwork.org/Main/index.php?categories_file=Gray%20Whales
- “Gray Whales.” National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/gray-whale/