PHOTOGRAPH BY MARIS SIDENSTECKER 2
Orcas of the
San Juan Islands
Need Your Help
They are the most well-known dolphins in the United States because they are heavily researched from the studies conducted in the San Juan Island area, north of Seattle. Many people have followed the struggles of the resident pods' (J, K and L) births, deaths, and now their struggle for food. They are starving because they rely on chinook salmon for subsistence and unfortunately, these salmon are at historic lows.
To increase their capability for orcas to live the fullest lives possible in the wild, an increase in salmon would result from breaching the four lower Snake River dams.The Army Corps of Engineers has the authority and the funding to begin breaching the four lower Snake River dams. To provide the greatest increase in chinook and other salmon for the starving Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), it would be most effective to help orcas with a sense of urgency toward dam breaching.
To help make this happen, please sign this petition.
She is known for the heartbreaking stories out of Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita, now 53, lives in deplorable conditions. A member of the L pod, she has lived at the Miami Seaquarium since September 24, 1970. She was captured from the wild on August 8, 1970 in Penn Cove, Puget Sound, when she was approximately three years old. She was originally called "Tokitae," which in chinook jargon means, “Bright day, pretty colors.” However, she was renamed Lolita after the heroine in Nabokov’s novel.
The Lummi Nation of Washington State refer to Lolita as Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut, or a female orca from an ancestral site in the Penn Cove area. They view her as a member of their "qwe lhol mechen," which translates to “our relative under the water," according to former Lummi tribal chairman Jeremiah "Jay" Julius.
As of 2021, she is the second oldest killer whale in captivity. Her captivity has garnered controversy, specifically due to the dimensions of her enclosure which is the smallest in North America, and illegal per the United States Department of Agriculture's killer whale tank size regulations.
Corky, now 56, lives at SeaWorld, San Diego. She is a female captive orca from the A5 Pod. At approximately the age of four, Corky was captured from Pender Harbour off the coast of British Columbia on December 11, 1969. She has lived at SeaWorld San Diego in California since 1987, following her stay at Marineland of the Pacific in Rancho Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles. As of 2021, she has been in captivity longer than any other orca.
Center for Whale Research Buys Property So
Orcas Can Eat Chinook Salmon
“Unbuild it and They Will Come”
The ranch, located in the Elwha Valley of Washington state, was purchased in October of last year. The stretch of river running through the property is part of the main stream where a majority of the region’s chinook salmon spawn. The Center for Whale Research helped to restore and protect the river, and increase the chinook population so that orcas will have enough to eat.
In 2014, two obsolete hydroelectric dams in the Elwha River were taken down allowing salmon to return to their historical spawning grounds. The salmon are coming back in greater numbers each year, and in 20 more years, they may reach historical population levels,” says Center for Whale Research founder and senior scientist, Ken Balcomb.
“Restore the ecosystem and the salmon will recover; Unbuild it and they will come.”
A Permanent Home for Orcas
Michael Reppy is planning a whale sanctuary near Hanson Island in British Columbia to rehabilitate killer whales. Mr. Reppy is planning this sanctuary primarily for the captive orca, Corky. Dr. Paul Spong, who lives on Hanson Island, has been an advocate for Corky since her capture at age 4. She was was taken from Stripe A23, her mother, and has been held in acquaria for more than 50 years. Corky is 56 and has been a captive, first at Marineland near Los Angeles, and then moved to where she is today, SeaWorld, San Diego. During her time at Marineland, she had four live births, one stillborn and one aborted fetus. Her babies failed to nurse, and the longest one lived was for 46 days.
An example of the extreme maternal bond of orcas was shown by J35 who carried her dead baby for 1000 miles over a 27-day period. Good news is that she recently had a calf J57 that is doing well.
Mr. Reppy’s plan for Corky is a sanctuary in Double Bay. It would be a 5-sided netted space – 80 feet deep and very protected with 24-hour security. It is anticipated that her family, the A5 pod, would come by Blackfish Sound to visit her. We know that her mother, Stripe died in 2000 at the age of 53, but she has a sister and brother still alive, as well as a niece A69 who are among the 17 members of A5 pod.
If the 27 Fish Farms in the area are phased out as planned, it will help the return of the wild salmon.The farms carry diseases and transmit them to the wild population
A Canadian Bill passed in 2019 will no longer allow orcas to be captured.
Seaworld would be asked to continue to care for her at sanctuary along with new people from Mr. Reppy’s group. In this way, she would have the best of her former and new life as she lives out her journey.