Coast's first Whale Trail sign erected

Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Visitors to Kalaloch Lodge on the Olympic Peninsula's Pacific Ocean shore will learn about the gray whales, sea otters and orcas that frequent the area now that a Whale Trail sign — the first on the state's outer coast, organizers say — has been installed there.

The sign will be dedicated at the lodge, which is on U.S. Highway 101 some 35 miles south of Forks, on Thursday during a ceremony from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The ceremony — which will be free and open to the public — will feature a keynote address by Jefferson County Commissioner Phil Johnson, and representatives of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park and The Whale Trail.

The program also will feature Hoh tribal storyteller Viola Riebe, director of cultural resources.

Riebe was featured in the film “Run to High Ground!,” a Native American story about tsunamis and earthquakes, and co-author of the chapter on the Hoh tribe in the book Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are.

“Whale Trail signs are simple but powerful reminders that orcas and other marine mammals live in our waters,” said Donna Sandstrom, executive director of The Whale Trail.

“The Kalaloch sign encourages visitors to look at this spectacular seascape with a deeper understanding of the diversity of life it supports and our role in protecting it.”

Twenty-nine species

Twenty-nine species of marine mammals live in or pass through the waters of the sanctuary.

The Whale Trail sign at Kalaloch is the first sign placed within Olympic National Park.

At vantage points in the park, visitors might spot migratory gray whales, sea lions, harbor porpoise, harbor seals, sea otters and orcas.

“I was a commercial fisherman for 12 years,” Johnson said. “I had the opportunity on many occasions to observe these amazing creatures up close, and spotting a pod of whales was always the high point of a trip.”

The national marine sanctuary provided funding and staff support for producing signs at Kalaloch, Snow Creek and Port Angeles in partnership with The Whale Trail and Olympic National Park, said Carol Bernthal, superintendent.

“No one walks away from an encounter with an orca or gray whale without being awestruck and hopefully eager to learn more,” she said.

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Last modified: April 04. 2013 8:57PM
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