Beach party to kick off Port Townsend Orca Festival

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will begin the Port Townsend Orca Festival with a Summer Kick Off and Beach Party from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Admission will be free to the marine science center at 532 Battery Way. A Discover Pass will be needed to enter Fort Worden State Park.

Before the kickoff gets started, the center will host a low-tide walk at 9:30 a.m., followed by a Salish Sea blessing ceremony.

During the day, visitors can:

 Take tours of Hope — Hope is one of only eight fully articulated orca skeletons in the world. The skeleton of Hope, a transient female orca that beached and died locally in 2002, hangs in the natural History Building at the center. The exhibit includes information discovered about the toxic chemicals that contributed to the orca’s death.

Listen to orcas — Visitors can hear undersea communication via the hydrophone listening network.

Free boat tours — Tours will be on Puget Sound Express whale watching vessels.

Explore a gray whale skeleton — Visitors can help piece together a gray whale skeleton.

 Participate in creating sand whale sculptures — Visitors also can be a part of a community art project of sand whale sculptures.

Live music, beach games, a community portrait and food and beverages are planned. Throughout the month has been a J-Pod Scavenger Hunt.

The hunt begins at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center at 2409 Jefferson St., Suite B, Port Townsend.

Participants can get to know the largest pod of southern resident orcas by following clues and collecting trading cards with members of the pod.

The first two participants to collect all of the cards will receive free whale watching tours from Puget Sound Express.

All other participants who complete the scavenger hunt will be entered into a raffle. The drawing will take place at the Summer Kick Off and Beach Party this Saturday.

“What better way to begin our 35th year and celebrate Orca Month than to partner with Puget Sound Express and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce to create Orca Fest, a monthlong learning opportunity of these remarkable animals?” said marine science center Executive Director Janine Boire.

For more information and other events celebrating Orca Month, go to ptorcafest.com.

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