After an unprecedented absence of about eight weeks from the Salish Sea, some Southern Resident orcas were seen back in area waters Friday morning.
"As of about 8 a.m., at least some and maybe all the Southern Residents are back in the San Juans, at last," Orca Network co-founder Howard Garrett said.
The whales were reportedly moving north through Haro Strait, between San Juan Island and Vancouver Island.
Garrett said another source of regional Southern Resident orca experts, the Center for Whale Research, is on the water working to determine exactly which whales are present.
The sighting comes after the iconic and endangered Southern Resident orcas, also known as killer whales, weren't seen in the waters of the Salish Sea shared by Washington and British Columbia for at least two months.
Of the three family groups — called J, K and L pods — one was last seen in the region in January, one in February and one in May.
The absence is unusual for the whales, which usually spend much of May through September in the area, primarily hunting chinook salmon from the Fraser River.