Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Waking up to Whales on the West Side

6:00am:  So what exactly is life like on an island surrounded by blue seas miles off shore of the Coast of Washington State?  Well, if this morning is any indicator...  there is a little fox mother outside of my office slider playing with a tennis ball and checking out the few tomatoes that have actually ripened this "summer"-it's been so cool this season that even the vegetables are confused. The fog has rolled in across the Haro Straits, cloaking the west side of San Juan Island in a chilly fall mist.  And the southern resident community of resident Orca whales has just passed my house headed North. In reading this, it sounds surreal, but it's our life!
MISTS OF FALSE BAY, San Juan Island print
Monday night I attended a gathering for the Soundwatch  Boater Education Program- a little get together at Snug Harbor to show appreciation for all the work that has been done by not only the program but the local volunteers. It was a fantastic evening spent under a starry sky, with warm breezes and an even (thankfully) warmer fire. Great to see Kari Koski who heads up the program, lots awesome volunteers and local scientists gathering to say goodbye to the end of another beautiful season with the orcas. Soundwatch has been INSTRUMENTAL in boater education this year, coordinating enforcement and educational efforts in the never ending attempt to teach boaters about not only the plight of the whales but also the impact we have through our actions.  I am quite sure if the whales could communicate with us, Kari would be first on their list.  For this reason, I am personally donating all proceeds from  Zazzle sales between August 1 and November 30 to Soundwatch- without them, I may not have the shore based photos I do! I am hoping to have at least a check for $1,000 for them for the holidays! :)
Orca Whale Killer Whale Endangered Species Courage card
On a more somber note, I did run into Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research- and it certainly sounds as though the orca whales are having a particularly bad year as far as sustainability goes. The salmon in these waters will need to begin to recoverer in order to provide the food needed for the orcas.  Although CA and OR have begun to provide strategies to protect the salmon, WA has been very slow to follow. In the Pacific Northwest, the West Coast salmon runs are undergoing their worst ever crisis, as is evidenced by the collapse of the Central Valley fall chinook salmon and the California Delta food chain. The coho salmon, an endangered species, have also collapsed to record low population levels, due to decades of habitat destruction, over- fishing and pollution. Addressing the long-term restoration and management of salmon is imperative in the region if the food chain is to be sustained- and at the top of that food chain are our beloved orca whales.  We will have to watch, in the interim, to see how badly these declining numbers of feeder fish impact the Southern Resident Community of Orca Whales, who do not feast on seals and other abundant mammals. They need the salmon for  their survival, as do we all.
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1 comment:

orcagirl said...

"And the southern resident community of resident Orca whales has just passed my house headed North. In reading this, it sounds surreal, but it's our life!"

hahaha just another lovely morning on SJI ! =D