Posted by: onboardtourswhales | January 2, 2017

Eternal J2 Granny

http://www.whaleresearch.com/j2

We may not have been part of hers, (aside from impacts) and folks may not understand, but J2 Granny and her clan, tribe, are a part of our human Orca culture and society. Beings we are elated to experience glimpses of their culture, society, communication, relationships, oceanic lives. They have full, complex, emotional lives, with larger brains and development than we have, without destroying themselves or their ecosystems.

Why are we humans destroying each other, other beings, and our own ecosystems? Why are those of us beyond day to day survival so focused on just ourselves- humans? Aren’t our lives rich, extraordinary, creative, meaningful,  because of the tapestry of all beings on earth?

Today the Center for Whale Research annouced J2 Granny MIA- presumed dead. Estimated to be 74 to 105 years old. (I hope her previously collected samples will be analyzed by NOAA appointed laboratories to establish her age.)

J2 Granny was the leader, the wise elder, the Grand Matriarch (and great-great grandmother) of the community-clan-tribe of Southern Resident Killer Whales- Orca.

Who will lead now? L25 Ocean Sun is the next eldest, thought to be mother of L Tokitae-Lolita (last survivor of captures from SRKW), she has no other surviving offspring.

Then a large gap in age with the surviving Orca of 78 + 1 today.

The experience and knowledge that goes with Granny, hopefully lives on in her tribe and us.

J2 Granny my inspiring favorite whale.

Nature may have taken her course, but devastating none the less. Somehow I thought J2 Granny would be immortal. Not in body, but yes in spirit, hold her in my heart always.

I relate her to my own family, my own father, friends, tribe.

J2 Granny was the first free Orca that looked at me, eye to eye connecting of spirits from other worlds. That was shortly after I began this career, I felt bonded to her. No wonder I feel devastated, and by all the Orca losses. I feel like I’ve lost dear friends.

Interconnections and interdependence between all life on earth should be part of essential education in schools and humans along with reading writing arithmetic.

Nature Basics 101.

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | November 8, 2016

Resiliency

November 8, 2016

Regardless of tonight’s United States political election results, I still believe in resiliency. Resiliency of humanity and best human spirit in caring for each other and all our shared life on earth. Tho I must say other animal matriarchal societies like orca and elephants are excellent examples!

I am sad to report since my last post that J28 Polaris and her 10 month old son J54 Dipper are gone. Our endangered Southern Resident orca whales need our collective resiliency and help. The Center for Whale Research held a press conference October 28, 2016 announcing this and the following obituary http://www.whaleresearch.com/j28

When I heard the news, I also learned all 35 members of Lpod were in tight groups swimming together down Haro Strait, along with Pacific white-sided dolphins, sporadic visitors. A bit uncanny as Lpod families are rarely sighted all together, especially this time of year. Jpod and Kpod were up north in the Salish Sea. Perhaps they had all gathered and grieved. I went out to the Westside Land Bank property and sat and absorbed the grace of the whales, the crystal clear air, soothing my heartache. As I walked back up the trail, a wildflower dandelion growing out of the harsh windswept rocky habitat caught my eye and reminded me of the resiliency of undisturbed, cared for nature.

Land Bank Dandelion

Land Bank Dandelion

Mount Rainier about 90 miles away

Mount Rainier about 90 miles away

Lpod Olympic Mountains

Lpod Olympic Mountains

L41 Mega oldest male at 39 years old

L41 Mega oldest male at 39 years old

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Lpod

Pacific white-sided dolphins

Pacific white-sided dolphins

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 26, 2016

Reflections

Going through photos and thoughts of experiences over the last few months, I realize they focus on sightings of nature and free life. But it is about sharing all this with people and their reactions. Maybe in the future I should include more people in photos too. I am filled with gratitude and honor for all the fellow advocates and opportunities to continue to learn science, present on the ferries, represent at events, participate with organizations, work and volunteer by sea and by land. People come to these islands from all around the world! Just this year- from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, England, Europe, Australia, Japan! Seeing the joy in their eyes, indelible memories, becoming aware of our positive and negative impacts, given tools and actions they can participate in, I do believe people can and will chose to live a bit more caring and respectful of all life forms.

Today there is grave concern about J28 Polaris, as she started looking emaciated in August, and her son J54 Dipper still nurses and looks smaller than normal. With the losses of 2 neonates, L-95 Nigel, and J14 Samish, this reinforces the dire straits these chinook-king salmon dependent endangered Southern Resident orca are in. Please care and attend one of these meetings, submit your comments to restore the salmon these orca so desperately need, and continue to call the White House 202-456-1111 asking President Obama to issue an Executive Order to breach-remove enough of the 4 lower Snake River dams. http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2016/feds-announce-hearings-for-public-to-weigh-in-on-lower-snake-river-dam-removal

Food First For Survival (Hydration also comes from their food – not from sea water)

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J28 Polaris with son J54 Dipper

September 22, 2016 Wedding Reception Whales

Today, our dear fellow mariners, naturalists, sea life advocates got married on their sailboat, then continued with a reception at Lime Kiln Point State Park, aptly also known as Whale Watch Park, since the groom predicted whales would come by at 4pm, and he was right!! Our beloved Southern Resident orca came south down Haro Strait with the ebb tide and slack water. First the L54’s porpoising- speed swimming with purpose! Later some J’s and K’s through sunset. Maybe they got the invite to come by and join the celebration 🙂 I think the eagle enjoyed watching the festivities too.

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September 18, 2016 September Southern Resident Orca

It’s difficult to pinpoint what about September is so special here in the Salish Sea. Knowing the orca will be sighted less as they travel further to find their food? (diminishing salmon) The softer light, and crisp clear air of autumn? The unusual sightings of other sea life? Out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for a sunset trip, the cloudy sun dappled sky showed the exhalations of whales! NOAA researchers were attempting to get breath samples of Southern Resident orca, from some members of all 3 pods that were in the area. The advanced technology now helps analyze health and pathology of cetaceans. Just hearing the breath and seeing the orca swim about brought grins and squeals by our passengers, no matter the few drops of rain, followed by double rainbows and dramatic sunset!

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September 14, 2016 Kpod Haro Strait

Out at Westside Land Bank property- preserved and accessible to the public, an evening from 5pm to 6:30pm to be thankful to see Kpod orca coming down Haro Strait with slack water after a flooding tide. They were spread out, foraging with tail fluke and pectoral fin lobs, and always awing breaches!

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August 8, 2016 Transients-Bigg’s Whales in San Juan Channel

Busy whales, T36, T36B’s, T38, T99’s hunting right along the west coast of Lopez Island, then mid channel and over to Griffin Bay. Lots of tail fluke slaps, spyhops, and back stroke swimming!

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August 1, 2016 Transient-Bigg’s Whales in Canada

Active whales outside of Active Pass in the Strait of Georgia! T34’s, T37, T37B’s families successfully, cooperatively together hunting Harbor porpoise, plowing by the boats!!

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July 31, 2016 Heart of Summer Sail

Sailing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on a beautiful, calm, sunny summer afternoon and evening, catching the last of a flood tide, then slack water made glass like conditions and extended visibility. Hoping orca were still in the area, a family that had been to my Baja gray whale camp many years ago, had no expectations, just happy to be out on the Salish Sea. About 6pm we saw blows off of Eagle Cove and respectfully approached, shutting down the engine. J16 Slick and her 2 year old daughter J50 Scarlet, and J28 Polaris with her kids- J46 Star and 7 month old son at the time J54 Dipper, seemed to be milling, resting, and foraging. There were some spyhops, and J50 Scarlet did some tail fluke slaps on the water. We could see other orca further out in the strait, so we put the hydrophone in the water to see if they were vocalizing. They were, interesting that some sounded like Kpod calls tho we hadn’t sighted any Kpodders! Then J50 Scarlet came right over to the boat, turned on her side and looked up at each of us. She then mouthed the hydrophone! We could hear the muffle!! J16 Slick approached as- come over here! and J50 Scarlet rejoined her mother. The other 3 of J16 Slick’s kids and 1 grandson were there, son J26 Mike was much further out in the strait. The whales slowly meandered southeast at about 7:30pm as we sailed back with the sun setting light, and treasured nature connections.

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July 28, 2016 Patos Island

Great to go hike Patos Island, part of the marine parks and one of the most northeastern islands of the San Juans. See a different view where Boundary Pass meets the Strait of Georgia, a mighty confluence of water! Turtleback Mountain on Orcas Island, and curious birds. That looks like a whale tail cloud on Mt Baker!

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July 21, 2016 Superpod 5

A week long gathering of folks from around the world to learn and share science and action for our orca and all cetaceans, topped off at Lime Kiln Point State Park- aka Whale Watch Park. Spectacular evening filled with music, Jpod and Lpod orca!! A family of whales stayed in front of the lighthouse, in the calm flooding tide and slack waters from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. They were rolling at the surface showing pectoral fins, and doing headstands- showing tail flukes. Southern Resident orca were all over Haro Strait, I counted 10 breaches! Spyhopping, tail fluke lobing- splashing the water, hopefully feasting on salmon. The lighting was surreal with storm clouds approaching, rain, thunder, lightning, and rainbows over the Olympic Mountains, yet rays of sunset shined on our magical time and place. Did the whales feel our caring intentions, hear the music and our delight? They inspire us.

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Random Photos

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2016-9-4-southbeach-overlook-urban-fox

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2016-8-25-coast-salish-reef-net-totem-and-salmon-story-boards-at-english-camp

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2016-8-9-anacortes-ship-harbor

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2016-7-26-rabbit-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-7-14-great-blue-heron-in-tree-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-7-14-great-blue-heron-in-tree-anacortes-ship-harbor

2016-6-19-my-backyard-interspecies-interaction

2016-6-19-my-backyard-interspecies-interaction

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | July 16, 2016

Make Friends With Whales

July 13, 2016

A wonderful sunny summer Wednesday to see some Jpodders dancing the Westside waltz- traveling up and down San Juan Island, hopefully they are finding enough Chinook-King salmon to sustain their families. J14’s heading south, sighted by Sentinel Island about 3:30pm with more Orca out in Haro Strait. As the groups swam toward Henry Island, one whale breached! Then back floated with pectoral fins waving in the air! Hello! The sea was calm and pond like, since the high tide had ended and tide was now minimal, about a 1/3 of a foot of ebbing water. At about 4pm I am once again revered to see Matriarch, Wise Elder of the Southern Resident clan- J2 Granny steadily swimming south, with her adopted orphan L87 Onyx further out in the strait, but keeping pace.

On my ferry talks, kids ask the most imaginative questions! This week, after a young boy patiently listened to information I was sharing, he asked me “How do we make friends with whales?” I paused for a moment, then answered we make sure they have enough food, clean water, and don’t bother them. Keep telling about whales- their stories. Play music they like may be a way to communicate?  I explained some of Jim Nollman’s work, and my friendly fun experiences with Orca, Gray and Humpback whales.

Whales and dolphins make friends with us, wish I had remembered parts of this quote; “To the dolphin alone, nature has given that which the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage…it is a genial friend to all and has helped mankind.” Plutarch

Hello Breach!

Hello Breach!

Grand Matriarch J2 Granny

Grand Matriarch J2 Granny

Adopted Orphan L87 Onyx

Adopted Orphan L87 Onyx

 

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | June 19, 2016

Spring Whales Spring Salmon?

Lots of Bigg’s-Transient Killer Whales, the Orca that hunt other marine mammals for meals, and Humpback Whales here in the Salish Sea.

Not so much of our beloved, endangered Pacific Northwest Southern Resident Orca who depend on Chinook-King Salmon to survive.

Where are the Whales? Where are the Salmon is the answer.

June is declared Orca Awareness Month by Washington and Oregon:

Friday June 24, 2016 many of us are gathering for a rally in Seattle at Westlake Park at 3pm, to increase awareness of the plight of endangered Salmon and Orca along with 137 other species that need these Salmon. The rally coincides with President Obama’s visit with Governor Inslee. We are asking President Obama to issue an Executive Order to breach- take down enough of the obsolete, we taxpayers fund, 4 lower Snake River dams to restore free passage to these Salmon that historically were our nation’s largest Salmon runs. Breaching these dams is also economically better for us and the region!

You can help!

*  Join us- https://www.facebook.com/events/1761148114098928/

*  Keep calling the White House- 202-456-1111 Ask for this Executive Order!

*  Wear Black and White on Friday June 24, 2016 and share public support!

2016-5-21 Bigg's-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg’s-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg's-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg’s-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg's-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg’s-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg's-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg’s-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg's-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Bigg’s-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Biggs-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-21 Biggs-Transient Killer Whales

2016-5-22 Big Mama Humpback

2016-5-22 Big Mama Humpback

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodder

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodders

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodders

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodders

2016-6-5 Orca Lpodders

2016-6-5 Bald Eagle Olympic Mountains

2016-6-5 Bald Eagle Olympic Mountains

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | April 9, 2016

Intense Extreme Adventure Costa Rica!!!

The Month of March 2016

Drake Bay, Southern Pacific Ocean of Costa Rica, and the Osa Peninsula described by National Geographic as intense: “the most biologically intense place on earth!” Costa Rica was on my ‘living list’ for a long time. Scarlet Macaws captured my attention since I was a little girl. One of their last habitats is this area in Costa Rica. I brought and wore my Scarlet Macaw earrings I’ve had for decades. Their daily community gatherings were a highlight of my trip. Mesmerized by their striking beauty, lifelong pair bonds, and constant ‘caws’. I could hear them coming long before I saw them and wondered if they were chattering or squabbling. Probably some of both, they are territorial.

I started on one end of Drake Bay, then went to Drake Bay town- Agujitas. Grateful to connect, support, and tour with environmentally aware, sustainable minded, experienced, wise, local generations owning and operating hotels and true ecotourism. Adventures abound in Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park, and Cano Island. Support local people who are stewards of place.

On my journey, along the way, mislead, cut, bruised, melting, lost, scared, sick- the yin of the yang- swimming warm clear blue radiating ocean full of life, horseback riding rivers and hiking waterfalls, tropical slice of earth like I was in a terrarium, going through mangroves hundreds of feet tall, hiking rainforest jungles, flying the canopy, trying new foods, snorkeling with turtles, rays, sharks, and fish. Day and night symphony and chorus of birds, birds, birds, monkeys, geckos, reptiles, insects, thunder, rain, wind, ocean surf. Meeting Bottlenose dolphins, Pantropical Spotted dolphins, and the multitude of sea and land critters outweighed the yin. Yes intense biodiversity!

When I return home, I see there is a British ITV show- Davina McCall: Life at the Extreme, about some of the most extreme places on our planet. Episode 4 is about the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

http://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep4week12/davina-mccall-life-extreme

Where I lived for 3 weeks. I feel better. I did “extreme” too.

Early to bed 9pm, early to rise 5am. There’s a reason we all go still by 1-2pm, brutal sun until sunset right before 6pm. Between 8 to 9 degrees from the equator, about 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Everyday. Year round. The rains are life supporting, cleansing, refreshing.

Predator and prey in constant survival dance. Relentless heat and humidity. I bake and drip away in Costa Rica and slap on another layer of sunscreen and bug bite repellent. Weather forecast says with humidity the heat index is over 105°, then 107° 108° 113° 114° the following days. Twenty-two days like living in a sweat lodge- but it can be detoxing, right? Yes extreme for me!

I learned the unexpected, the unplanned. My dreams, goals, hopes, all the sea and land earthlings I met went beyond the beyonds, a grand adventure seared into me. Pura Vida!

Enjoy the photos and video!

The video is the view from my room in Agujitas overlooking Drake Bay one fine sunset

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | April 9, 2016

March 2015 Gray Whales GoPro Videos and Slide Show

Howard Garrett of Orca Network filmed and shared these great videos of our visit last March 2015 with the Gray Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon Mexico. Enjoy!

Fellow Salish Sea Naturalist Michelle Mercer Malcolmson also captured the joy of Campo Cortez and the Gray Whales, wildlife, people, and shared a heart touching slide show. Enjoy!

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

Glorious Life in the Salish Sea

Friday October 16, 2015

It’s been an extraordinary time here in the Salish Sea. The diversity of wildlife; five babies born and surviving in the Endangered Southern Resident salmon dependent Orca community, of today 81 whales + 1 Tokitae/Lolita- the last survivor of captures from this too small community. Let’s all work to bring her home. Let’s restore salmon and breach the 4 lower Snake River dams. Transient-Biggs mammal eating Killer whale families are consistently in these waters, Humpbacks whales are regular visitors, and a Fin whale has been here over a month!

I am grateful for everybody’s endless efforts and the opportunities to share these awe-inspiring experiences, our ecosystems, all the challenges these other life beings face, and all of the choices and actions we humans can and are doing to restore and care for our interconnected, interdependent place of living. All of our individual efforts do and are making a difference. We are at a pivotal, crucial time, let’s strive for respectful coexistence. Thank You. My optimism continues.

“The opposite of courage is not cowardice; it is conformity. Even dead fish can go with the flow” Jim Hightower

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

A picture can tell a thousand words, I hope some of my photos tell the story, hold the moment. I’d be happy to answer (or find the answer) to any questions, and share all the ways you can help our ocean planet home.

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

Transient-Biggs T49 Family

Friday September 25, 2015

Mammal dining Killer whales foraging through Spieden Channel, taking care of their little one. The exotic, imported Mouflon sheep on Spieden Island are ‘rutting’- battling over who gets the females!

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

A Tale Tail Fluke Day!

Tuesday September 15, 2015

The T137 Transient-Biggs Killer whales (and marine birds) dining on a Steller sea lion out by Smith Island! And several Humpback whales in the same general area, going about their business feeding on forage fish! Can you tell the tail flukes apart?

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

Second Largest Whale = Fin Whale!!

Wednesday September 9, 2015

September in the Salish Sea is my favorite time. Over the years, the most diversity of cetaceans and behaviors- this September and sunsets are spectacular too! In the past several years, Fin whales came into these waters dead, struck by ships. So truly a privilege to meet this young Fin whale feeding out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca by McArthur Bank, hopefully a sign forage fish are increasing.

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

T65A’s Transient-Biggs by Orcas Island

Wednesday September 9, 2015

Transient-Biggs mammal eating Killer whales- Orcinus orca, by Orcas Island. Family side by side! See the photo where we’re looking eye to eye?!!

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

K’s and L’s Orca by Henry Island

Friday September 4, 2015

Sunny Slack Waters!

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

Like Mike! J16’s Orca

Monday August 24, 2015

Little sister Scarlet J50 with mama Slick J16 and big bro Mike J26, by Henry Island.

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 16, 2015

K’s and L’s Orca by Saturna Island

Sunday August 16, 2015

Cooperation and Synchronize!

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | August 13, 2015

Active, Mating? Orca!

August 10, 2015
Monday afternoon, many Lpod and Kpod family groups were swimming down Rosario Strait. The 7’ flooding tide was ending, then a 1’ ebbing tide made for calm easy waters. I was able to identify the large L55 family, L92 & L90, L95 & L105 & frisky? L72;) (The Whale Museum will tell you their names) The orca were very surface active, vocalizing and chatting! We witnessed all behaviors- powerful breathing, fishing, lunging, spyhopping, breaching, tail-fluke lobbing, pectoral fin lobbing, playing, resting, and whale ‘flashes’ suggesting mating! These whales made an uncommon choice to follow the ferry route west between the islands, taking their time, holding the attention of awed folks from San Francisco, Mexico, and on the ferrys! A memorable day, the many orca families traveling together, hoping they were getting enough salmon, knowing these whales need our help in restoring salmon abundance for their very survival.DSC_0043 DSC_0054 (2) DSC_0059 DSC_0064 DSC_0134 DSC_0160

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | August 13, 2015

My Orca Photos July by Sea and August 2nd by Land!

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Posted by: onboardtourswhales | August 7, 2015

Blustery Afternoon Whale Day

August 3, 2015
The sun shining and warm, yet windy with a strong 8’ flooding tide made for a fun boat ride through some choppy, tide ripped waters over toward Lummi Island. Folks from California, Finland, and Seattle were up for the adventure! Transient-Biggs, mammal eating Killer whales, T037A and family were on the prowl, they may have had 2 meals- harbor seal, porpoise? Fascinating the way they were working together, coordinating direction changes, lunging, and tail fluke slapping the water. It looked like a new calf was side by side with matriarch mama T037A!DSC_0497 (3) DSC_0547 (2) DSC_0567 (3) DSC_0574 (2) DSC_0580 (2)

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | July 27, 2015

End Dam Extinction

I believe we are at a critical, pivotal moment to restore salmon to the Columbia River basin and the Northwest- historically our nation’s largest salmon runs.

The White House phone number to leave comments is 202-456-1111

Call Monday through Friday between 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time.  All that needs to be said is “Breach the four lower Snake River dams to save the Southern Resident orca (or killer whales) and salmon from being dammed to extinction.”

Our Spotlight Species, Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales– orca, need salmon to survive; up to 80% of their diet is Chinook salmon. Science has shown these whales depend on the salmon of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, particularly during the winter and spring.

Science has also shown salmon are a keystone species here in the Northwest, providing nutrients to not only the whales; also other marine mammals, birds, bears, humans, even plant life- the entire ecosystem.

The 4 lower Snake River dams are a major impediment causing the decline of salmon to the point of threatened and endangered salmon species.

Data now shows maintaining these outdated, deteriorating dams- by your tax dollars annually, extortionately costs much more than the significantly lower cost of breaching the 4 lower Snake River dams.

These dams now only provide 1-3% of the regions power. The majority of the regions stakeholders support the breaching of these dams.

President Obama has been personally presented with all this information and can issue an Executive Order, to breach the 4 lower Snake River dams. If he does not issue this Executive Order, it probably would take at least 10 more years to go through the bureacratic process to make this happen, at continuing excessive cost to taxpayers, and probable extinction of salmon stocks. The reality of  extinction of Southern Resident Killer Whales is why they are one of eight federally NOAA identified ‘Species in the Spotlight’.

President Obama has recieved many petitions, letters, and emails supporting breaching the 4 lower Snake River dams, but the White House questioned why they weren’t receiving more phone calls supporting this Executive Order.

The White House needs to know the public supports this dam breaching to give the President the political will to take executive action. 

We need to get the message out to everyone to flood the White House with calls as soon as possible to let the White House staffers know that people care, people want the iconic Southern Resident Killer Whales and keystone salmon to survive. 

Please call, please share.

Thank You!

We can do this!  🙂

Posted by: onboardtourswhales | October 22, 2014

Meaningful Memories

10-20-14

Timing is important and does work out sometimes. I was helping out at the Center for Whale Research when we heard L-Pod whales were sighted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Ken Balcomb, Erin Heydenreich, and I headed out to take photo identification, location, and behavioral data. The rain stopped and gave us two and a half dry hours. I was a very enthused passenger taking videos and photos with my smartphone.

The trip was bittersweet and ironic. Knowing the new baby L-120 born in September, and the first calf in the Southern Resident Orca community in two years that we’d been celebrating, hadn’t been sighted with her mother L-86 Surprise and relatives on the last few sightings. L-Pod families had been out in the Pacific Ocean for a few weeks. Most whale species sink when they die, so we will probably not know what caused the death. I believe the Orcas grieved their loss, I have seen Orcas and Gray whales grieve.

The Orcas were spread out from Eagle Point heading west and north. Sad and ironic the first group and whale we see is L-86 Surprise with her son and relatives, but no baby L-120, confirming the loss.

Our Orcas and our Salish Sea are indeed in dire straits. Lack of salmon, water quality and toxins, noise pollution, and our past impacts are taking a toll on our whale population; whales are sentinels of our seas.

They are not doing well, we are not doing well. No matter where you live, water, toxins, garbage runs downhill into the seas, and acoustic pollution probably affects most sea life. Our breath, water, food, and climate; our very existence and survival depends on our oceans, we are a water planet! Ken Balcomb, Erin Heydenreich, David Ellifrit and many others are unsung heroes, investing decades to bring this global shift in our awareness and attention to our ocean life and oceans. I keep hope, from when I started 20 years ago, in the awareness, collaboration, and our accumulating individual efforts to and do make a positive difference. Slow but sure changes are now happening.

We continued to document the spread out groups of L and K Pod families, seeming to forage for salmon. They did delight us with a few breaches, spyhops, pec and fluke slaps, kelping, and back floaters. We even heard a few above water vocalizations! I personally think the orcas know Ken and his boats, and are very comfortable around Ken. They have the brain and memory to recognize boats and people, through their extraordinary echo-location, sight, and acoustically oriented world. Just like we can recognize the sound and sight of our neighbor’s car.

The sky was overcast, casting a matte light extending visibility. The straits were calm, glass like, and slack water. As we headed up Haro Strait, we saw Dall’s porpoise and a humpback whale in the distance!

The Orcas milled a bit and Erin sighted and picked up a fish scale! so we can find out what they were eating. Then, ironically because I had just asked Ken about the ‘lags’- Pacific white-sided dolphins, poof! a group appears rapidly swimming toward us, across the boat stern wake! They were swimming away from and didn’t appear to be bothering the Orcas. They apparently can annoy, ‘harrass’ whales by swimming all over the whales and their rostrums- noses, and the whales react by trying to get away from the lags. I think of the lags as some of the hyperactive gossips of the seas!

Sweet to experience all the cetaceans and behaviors we did, then the sun melted a few clouds and we see a rainbow over Henry Island. Sentimental me feels hope.

Videos:

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