A Quest to See Killer Whales

We were very lucky on our quest to see killer whales yesterday. We spotted quite a few of them, just south of Vancouver in the Strait of Georgia, not too far from the shoreline at the airport. Sockeye salmon are spawning right now — heading toward the Fraser River — but they have to get past all of these killers and a flotilla of fishermen in order to get there. Competition is unusually fierce this season, with far fewer numbers of salmon than in years past. According to an article by the Vancouver Sun, the wild salmon population has declined 80% since 1990. As a result, resident killer whales roam a larger territory more frequently, moving back and forth across the Strait of Georgia in search of food. Over-fishing and global warming are increasingly affecting these amazing creatures.

Granny, identified by the small notch in her dorsal fin and gray patch at the base

Granny, identified by the small notch in her dorsal fin and gray patch at the base

In captivity, female orcas live to be about 30 years but yesterday we saw the J Pod matriarch — a female named Granny, estimated to be ONE HUNDRED FIVE YEARS OLD. Granny even has her own Wikipedia page! Can you imagine the changes she has experienced in her lifetime? Would you give up eating wild salmon if you knew it would benefit the ocean ecosystem around you, and Granny as well?

As another world-renowned elder would say: Do or do not. There is no try.

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