Orca whales near Bremerton draw crowds

BREMERTON — Eight killer whales that spent about three hours in inland Washington waters near Bremerton quickly drew crowds on nearby shorelines.

Marine mammal biologist Brad Hanson of the National Marine Fisheries Service heard about the orcas and headed over from Seattle in his research boat to check them out Thursday afternoon.

The Kitsap Sun reported that the whales were marine mammal-eating transient orcas, rather than members of three Southern Resident killer whale pods that eat salmon.

Hanson followed the whales into Dyes Inlet and obtained a sample of blubber from a female orca designated as T-65A. She was identifiable by a distinctive notch in the upper part of her dorsal fin. Hanson also was able to identify her three offspring but not the other four whales. The blubber test is used to check for toxic chemicals and to help with genetic fingerprinting.

He says researchers are now trying to learn more about the transient killer whales.

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Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/

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