10/31/2014

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Gray whale spotted in backwater of south Puget Sound

Gray whale spotted in backwater of south Puget Sound
PURDY, Wash. - A gray whale was spotted Wednesday morning in Burley Lagoon, a backwater of Puget Sound that is about as far from the ocean as a whale can get.

John Calambokidis, a whale expert with Cascadia Research, said the marine mammal is believed to be the same one that has been in the south Sound for the past four or five days.

It was spotted Tuesday in Budd Inlet near Olympia. On Wednesday morning it showed up only a few feet from the shore in Burley Lagoon, a small body of water in northern Pierce County between Purdy and Wauna.

A few curious local residents turned out to watch the whale swimming and spouting off along the shoreline.

To get back to the Pacific Ocean, the whale would have to swim about 200 miles. It would have to find its way through a labyrinth of inlets to the main channel of Puget Sound, Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Calambokidis says the gray whale is a small one and does not look to be in very good shape. It has a large yellow patch behind its blow hole that he thinks is whale lice.

It is not uncommon for gray whales to divert into Puget Sound during their annual migration up the Pacific coast to feed on ghost shrimp, but they usually don't make it all the way into the south Sound.
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