Orca Festival

Summer Kick Off and Beach Party

June 23rd, 2018

The Ocra Festival is an annual tradition of celebrating the ecosystems that make up the Salish Sea, and deepening our relationship and responsibility to them.  Bringing together whale experts, educators, artists and community, the day offers education, exploration and celebration by the sea. The Orca is an ancient creature that has lived in the Salish Sea for thousands of years, traveling as families and staying connected throughout their lives.  However, southern resident orcas are extremely threatened by the dwindling salmon population in the Salish Sea. We seek to celebrate these aquatic relatives, and work towards their healthy future. 

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This years festival lands on the same day as the Rat Island Regatta, a long time Port Townsend tradition which invites any human powered watercraft to race from Fort Worden across PT bay and around Rat Island and back. See event schedule or visit www.soundrowers.org/race-schedule/rat-island/ for more information about the race.

Famed rock/ska band Locust Street Taxi performances starting at 1PM. Festival awards ceremony at 2PM will honor winners of the Rat Island Regatta and JPod Scavenger hunt, as well as Governor Jay Inslee for his long-term dedication and support of the Southern Resident Orcas of Puget Sound (Gov. Inslee will not be present). Also featuring a song and dance by the North Olympic Orca Pod and of celebration for Finn the salmon’s 30th year anniversary, this years award ceremony will be one for the history books.

The skeleton of Hope, a transient female orca that beached and died locally in 2002, now hangs in the Natural History Building at PTMSC. While working with scientists researching her death and preparing her skeleton for display, we learned many things about this whale and the community of orcas living along our coast. Our exhibit, Learning from Orcas—The Story of Hope, highlights her story and lessons we have learned from these events.  Tours of Hope will take place in the Natural History Exhibit at 1, 2 and 3PM. 

JPod Scavenger Hunt 11AM - 2PM - Starting at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center Natural History Exhibit, get to know the largest pod of Southern Resident Orcas by following clues and collecting trading cards with each member of the famous JPod of orcas. All participants who complete the scavenger hunt will receive a small prize and be entered into a raffle drawing to win free whale watching tours from PSE and a variety of other prizes. Must be 18 or younger to participate. 

The Port Townsend Orca Festival is produced in partnership between between the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Puget Sound Express and Thunderbull Productions. Additional event partners include the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Port Townsend School District and the North Olympic Orca Pod.  

Free event parking on the Fort Worden Parade Grounds - please consider walking, riding or bussing! Discover Pass Required for beach parking



Event Schedule

9:00 - Rat Island Regatta early start
10:00 - Rat Island Regatta standard start
11:00 - JPod Scavenger Hunt registration opens (Natural History Exhibit)
11:00 - Featured speaker TBA (Natural History Exhibit)
12:00 - North Olympic Salmon Coalition - How to get involved
1:00 - Locust Street Taxi
2:00 - Award Ceremony on the Pier
2:30 - Locust Street Taxi
3:00 - Puget Sound Express - FREE boat tour
4:00 - Puget Sound Express - FREE boat tour

Throughout the Day

11:00 - 5:00 - Free entrance to Marine Science Center and Natural History Exhibit
11:00 - 2:00 - Salmon & Orca hat making with North Olympic Salmon Coalition
1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 - Tours of Hope, one of few fully-articulated orca skeletons
11:00 - 5:00 -  Listen to Orcas via the Hydrophone Listening Network
11:00 - 5:00 - Fin the salmon on display - kids educational exhibit
9:00 - 5:00 - Canteen - beachside restaurant and grocery open
All Day: BYO beach party & tug of war on the beach