A Special “Friend” in Puget Sound Shines a Spotlight on the Disappearing Orca
by Amy Lignor
Her name was Granny, and this particular orca came by that title quite honestly. Being the oldest member of the small population of endangered orcas dwelling in Puget Sound, on January 3rd it was announced that Granny was “presumed dead.”
Not seen since October, Granny was spotted thousands of times at the head of one of the three family groups of whales that travel with their mothers and/or grandmothers in the area. She was labeled “J2,” yet everyone referred to her as Granny. A study, published back in 1987, estimated that the orca was born around 1911 – which means she was a ripe, old age of 105. Therefore, it was not actually a shock when the Center for Whale Research located on San Juan Island (a nonprofit group that keeps the federal government’s annual census of these particular whales) reported that Granny’s status was changed to deceased.
The shock comes when taking note that individual southern resident killer whales that are spotted many times in the inland waters of Washington State, have gone missing. Each whale is identified by specific black and white markings that differ from others, as well as fin shape variations not seen on other killer whales.
Back in 2015, eight orcas were born; yet even with this great number, this well-tracked group is now down to only 78. During the year of 2016, seven were declared missing or dead, with one male found deceased off the coast of British Columbia. Officials stated that he was most likely struck by a boat or, less likely, another animal; either way, the orca died at the very young age of eighteen.
All types of protection efforts were put in place in order to keep these orcas alive, but due to lack of food for the creatures, pollution on the rise, and death by vessels in the area, the orcas ended up on the endangered species list in 2005.
For those who want to support these poor creatures that are truly disappearing off the face of the earth, there are many organizations that need not only donations but also volunteers to help them fight their fight. One on the smaller side but that has been highly effective is The Orca Project Corp. This non-profit works with many of the world’s top marine mammal experts in order to alter the public’s attitude and the government’s lack of supervision when it comes to marine mammals. Committed to providing the world with a behind the scenes look at orcas in captivity, they heighten the pressure on government agencies to keep the orca plight at the top of their ‘to do’ lists. By raising awareness, this particular Project has improved animal welfare regulations.
On their incredible website, you can learn about how best to help the Project in their work to aid marine mammals. They also list a great deal of campaigns that they are a part of, giving updates on how their work is progressing and what others can do to help. From Lolita, held over 40 years at the Miami Seaquarium in a pool that is completely illegal – not nearly up to the current standards of the Animal Welfare Act; to Morgan, a young female killer whale captured off the coast of the Netherlands just to be shipped off to be put on ‘display’ in the Canary Islands’ SeaWorld – the list goes on and on regarding the creatures in trouble and the work that still needs to be done in order to give them a better life.
So for those who want nothing more than to help the helpless and stop the orca from literally being erased off this planet once and for all, it is time to take a stand!
Do it for Granny. A blessed orca that lived a long, long life and brought smiles to one and all!
Original Source: GIG News