June 23rd – All Day

Fort Worden Beaches and Marine Science Center

Celebration – Education – Ceremony – Adventure

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.

This year’s festival lands on the same day as the Rat Island Regatta, a long time Port Townsend tradition that invites any human powered watercraft to race from Fort Worden around Rat Island and back. Visit soundrowers.org for more information about the race.

Featured speakers include: Stephanie Solien, chair Governor’s Orca Recovery Task Force, Robert and Erin Williams, orca researchers with Seattle-based, Ocean Initiative, Lucas Hall, project coordinator for Long Live the Kings, and Rebecca Benjamin, Director of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition.

Famed rock/ska band Locust Street Taxi performs 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). With all this followed by a song and dance by the North Olympic Orca Pod and a celebration of Finn the salmon’s 30th year anniversary, this year’s award ceremony will be one for the history books.

Skeleton of Hope

The skeleton of Hope, a transient female orca that beached and died locally in 2002, now hangs in the Natural History Building at Fort Worden, and is one of few fully articulated orca skeletons in the world. While working with scientists researching her death and preparing her skeleton for display, scientists at the Marine Science Center learned many things about this whale and the community of orcas living along our coast. The exhibit, Learning from Orcas: The Story of Hope, highlights her story and lessons learned from these events. Tours of Hope will take place in the Natural History Exhibit at 1, 2, 3 and 4PM.

JPod Scavenger Hunt

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.

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 1:00 PM – Featured speakers (Natural History Exhibit)
    – Rob/Erin Williams – Ocean Initiative
    – Lucas Hall – Long Live the Kings
    – Rebecca Benjamin – North Olympic Salmon Coalition
    – Stephanie Solien – Chair Orca Recovery Task Force

  • 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

Our Speakers

Lucas Hall - Project Coordinator, Long Live the Kings

Born and raised near the Skagit River, Lucas left the Seattle tech startup scene to return to his passion, environmental management in the Pacific Northwest.

With previous experience working with agricultural nonpoint pollution inspectors and Washington State aquaculture polices, he brings a combination of stakeholder engagement, policy analysis, and entrepreneurship to LLTK.

Lucas holds a B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University and a Master of Public Administration degree and Environmental Management Certificate from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.

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