This week our Village by the Sea celebrates the whales who come to visit and feed in Saratoga Passage. The Orca Network is hosting a number of activities, including:

  • Wed. April 12, 3-5 pm–Hybrid Youth Event: Join us in person or virtually for a youth event to welcome the Sounders gray whales. We will get to see a virtual whale watch of the Sounders Gray Whales who are currently around Whidbey Island as well as the gray whales in Baja, Mexico. There will also be a costume-making activity for both zoom participants and those who are at Langley Whale Center. Your costumes will be the perfect addition to the Welcome the Whales Parade on April 15th! The event is free but registration is required for the virtual portion.
    Joann Quintana at a former Welcome the Whales Parade in Langley. 2021’s April event was presented virtually during the times of social distancing due to the coronavirus. Photo shared by Joann Quintana
  • Sat. April 15 11:30 AM-2 PM–Welcome the Whales Festival and Parade: Join us at 11:00 at the Langley United Methodist Church for a costume making party and learn about gray whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through displays and activities from Orca Network and our partner organizations. Then dress as your favorite critter and join us for a parade in Langley to Welcome the Sounders Gray Whales to North Puget Sound. Staging will begin at the U.S. Bank parking lot at 1:00 PM. The parade begins at 1:30 and will end at the Langley waterfront for a brief ceremony.
    Gretchen Lawlor in a PNW-indigenous-inspired mask at a 2018 Welcome the Whales parade
  • Also on Saturday for open water swimmers, Deborah Koff-Chapin sent this invite: “This Saturday is the Welcome the Whales parade. [We] have ended the beachfront ceremony most years by handing out blossoms, inviting everyone to throw them in the water as a blessing for the whales, and swimming out with some sprigs to cast on the water. We would love to have others join us for this wonderful spring celebration. I am not sure who else is swimming. Please spread the word! Saturday April 15 1:00 meet at the old US Bank parking lot in Langley. 1:30 walk in the parade down to the waterfront and hand out flowers and swim out to send everyone’s blessings to the whales. Wear: Your wetsuit and any other costume parts that you would like. Bring Flowers: Try to clip some blossoms from blooming trees. Bring in baskets if you have any. SPREAD THE WORD TO OTHER SWIMMERS! An rsvp would be appreciated to
    Rosy Hypothermias’ synchronized swim to honor the return of the gray whales and spring March 2021
  • Sat. April 15 3:30-5 PM–Presentation by Cascadia Research Collective at Langley United Methodist Church:Join John Calambokidis and Alie Perez of Cascadia Research Collective for an update on the Sounders gray whales and the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event. In-person or register for a virtual event.
  • Mer people get decked out for the Welcome the Whales Parade April 18 in Langley 2022

    Sun. April 16 10 AM–Langley Beach cleanup at Whale Bell Park: Please help us protect important gray whale habitat with a beach clean-up on Sunday morning. Meet at Whale Bell Park at 10:00 and stay as long as you like! Gloves, garbage bags and grabbers will be provided. If you are unable to attend in person, consider joining our Plastics Challenge for the month of April. Reduce your use of plastics and clean a beach, estuary, or park near you.

  • Sun. April 16 2-4PM–Gray Whale fundraising cruise: Join Puget Sound Express crew and Orca Network staff and volunteers for a special two-hour cruise to meet some of the Sounders gray whales. Meet at Langley Marina at 1:30 for 2:00 departure. Cost is $100 per person and space is limited. Proceeds help support Orca Network’s education programs. Register here.
    Whidbey’s conductor of fun and emcee of pre-COVID events, the late great Jim Freeman at the 2019 Welcome the Whales parade
  • Purchase a Patch T-Shirt. Available soon: This year’s Welcome the Whales Festival is dedicated to Sounders gray whale CRC 49 Patch, who sadly has not been seen since 2020. In honor of this special whale, we have a new Sounders T-shirt designed by renowned talented artist Jenn Rigg. These shirts will be available soon at Langley Whale Center and on our webshop!
    Man in sailor cap and striped shirt in front of a sun poster
    The late Langley poet laureate Peter Lawlor recites a poem at one of Langley’s Welcome the Whales parades in years past. Photo by David Welton
  • For more information about Welcome the Whales, please contact Cindy Hansen at
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