Orca in the Pacific NW
August 28, 2003 8:29 PM   Subscribe

OrcaLive is a series of webcams and underwater microphones placed off of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They are part of OrcaLab started by Dr. Spong in 1970 to study wild orca. It appears the cameras are manned and observations of behavior and movement are made here in the left-hand column. Combined, it makes for some good viewing--today alone I saw and heard different pods greeting each other, saw spyhops, stomach rubbing along the shore, and tailslaps. Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research has been studying the orca around the San Juan Islands, Washington since 1976. They also have a webcam and still shots. You may remember the story of Springer being reunited with her pod. (discussed here) There is also a young male named Luna L98 who has been separated from his pod for two years. His situation has reached a crisis while Canadian officials have taken a wait-and-see approach. In the last few days, Luna was wounded by a boat propeller and has a 6-8inch long 1.5inch deep gash above one eye. Maybe Canada will act now. With only 79 individuals in the Southern Resident population, down from 92 in 1991, every individual is important.
posted by lobakgo (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Great post, lobakgo.

Meanwhile, Keiko will be allowed to make Norway his home, if he so chooses.
posted by homunculus at 9:30 PM on August 28, 2003

So killer whales are actually kind of dolphins? That's news to me. Great post.
posted by riffola at 9:31 PM on August 28, 2003

Great post!!
posted by lazaruslong at 10:34 PM on August 28, 2003

The vet at the Vancouver Aquarium is pushing to be allowed to take Luna into captivity, which would upset the hell out the animal rights people. I think the "wait-and-see approach" is the hope that, as he matures, he'll hook up with a pod and lose his dangerous fascination with humans.
posted by timeistight at 12:41 AM on August 29, 2003

It's not surprising the vet at the Vancouver Aquarium is pushing for captivity. Orca are big money. History of orca captures here. Vancouver Aquarium doesn't have the best track record for marine mammal captivity, but then no one does. As for joining a pod that comes along--highly unlikely since the social structure is matrinlineal and offspring stay with their mother for life. And Luna "speaks" his pod's dialect which differs from other pods. They were hoping his mother's pod would swim close enough for him to hear them, but many think it's unlikely he'll hear them from where he is. Canada has failed to protect this whale, in fact a worker from the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans(the dept. in charge of the whale's wellbeing) whacked Luna in the head with a board earlier in July.
posted by lobakgo at 10:53 AM on August 29, 2003

I'm not sure how exactly you can protect a huge wild animal, who likes to swim up to public docks and rub against boats, short of capturing him, which has the problems you note. Maybe if more people were whacking him and fewer petting him, he wouldn't be in this fix.
posted by timeistight at 11:04 AM on August 29, 2003

I would distinguish between capturing the whale in order to reintroduce it to it's pod, as was done with Springer, and capturing the whale for display. Since it's illegal to even pet a whale according to the Marine Mammal Regulations under the Fisheries Act, I don't think whacking is the answer. I think you're right that it has become abundantly clear that the D.F.O. can't protect the whale or the people it interacts with.
posted by lobakgo at 11:22 AM on August 29, 2003

Dr. Spong? Is he related to Adrian Wapcaplett of Mousebat, Follicle, Goosecreature, Ampersand, Spong, Wapcaplett, Looseliver, Vendetta, and Prang?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:57 PM on August 29, 2003

In other whale news ...
posted by wobh at 8:03 AM on August 30, 2003

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