Beluga whale spotted swimming in Puget Sound for first time since 1940

TACOMA, Wash. — A beluga whale was spotted in Commencement Bay near Point Defiance on Thursday for the first time since 1940.

The whale is far from its usual home in the waters near Alaska, which has local groups that observe the whales concerned.

Belugas are known to be social and should not be separated from their pods.

“While exciting, there is great concern for this Beluga who is far from home, and being a social animal concern they are alone and away from their pod,” the Orca Network wrote in a Facebook post.

On Oct. 3, the network received a video from Jason Rogers of what appeared to be a beluga in Commencement Bay sometime around noon.

The video was forwarded to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Center for Whale Research, and other agencies that agreed it is a beluga, which also had been spotted swimming in Elliott Bay in Seattle on Monday.

The Orca Network is asking anyone to report sightings of the whale as close to real time as possible. Sightings can be reported at this number: 360-331-3543 or 899-672-2638.

Anyone who reports a sighting is asked to also include the date, time and location, and other details, including photos.

People are also asked to give the whale space. “If you are on the water and encounter this whale please give this whale extra space. The law requires any vessel/watercraft to stay at least 100 yards, but please stay a greater distance,” the agency stated.

Belugas are normally found throughout the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters in the U.S.

The agency stated, “They are protected throughout their range with some populations listed as depleted, and the Cook Inlet population listed as endangered.”