Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Orcas Visit For OrcaSing on San Juan Island

June is Orca Month

It is an extra-special month for the Southern Resident orca community, whose members who have lovingly followed the beloved icon of the Pacific Northwest and Puget Sound ever since man has shared these waters with them. Recent and significant declines in their population have led researchers, government agencies and concerned citizens to begin focusing on efforts to ensure the whales will be able to continue to thrive in their own habitat. Indicators show that between 1995 and 2001, the Southern Resident orca population declined by 20%, leading to their being listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in November of 2005.

June calls for increased focus on stewardship efforts to protect and preserve the Puget Sound for the Southern Residents.  Their habitat is a fragile one and the harm being done to them both directly and indirectly comes into focus- with many agencies sponsoring events to educate the public and highlight the current and future initiatives to save the whales. One of these events on San Juan Island is OrcaSing- an annual event cosponsored by People For Puget Sound, The American Cetacean Society, The Friends of the San Juans, The Whale Museum, The City Cantabile Choir, the Italico Brass Quntet, and The Whale Trail.

Last night, those gathered for the summer solstice presentation of OrcaSing, were not let down, as members of all three pods visited Lime Kiln State Park as if on cue for the ceremonies. We watched as the familiar fin of Ruffles, J-1, made a splash well off of Deadman's Bay, a cove just south of the light- as the chorus of the ceremony began. But then they turned...making the watchers wait out the pass for what seemed like forever. But when they did, while well was a pass replete with breaches, cavorting- with all three pods represented- can you say electric energy? And luckily for those participating in OrcaSing, they were directly in the whales' path. By 8:30pm, the pass was over and the crowds thinned as the last fins could be seen on the horizon of a beautiful sunset.

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