….and we have missed you!
Join us at http://www.orcaconservancy.org/blog/
….and we have missed you!
Join us at http://www.orcaconservancy.org/blog/
Orca Conservancy wants to express our sincere condolences to the family of John Crowe on his passing on Monday. As many of you know, John was a former diver who worked with SeaWorld during the deadly orca roundup at Penn Cove, WA in August 1970, which included the capture of Lolita. John’s courageous testimony was critical in the State of Washington reaching a settlement with SeaWorld in 1976 that stopped orca captures in the United States.
After over 20 years of seclusion, John finally agreed to break his silence on the matter, granting his first-ever interview in 1999 for the nationally syndicated youth special, “Baby Wild Films Presents: The Killer Whale People,” produced, written and edited by Michael Harris and hosted and narrated by Hall of Fame rocker Nancy Wilson of Heart. Besides this exclusive and heart-wrenching interview with John, the special also included the first-ever broadcast of the powerful 16mm film of the Penn Cove capture, the rights of which were won by Michael as part of a settlement of a pending lawsuit with KING Television (he now owns the copyright to the material in the U.S. Library of Congress) and was painstakingly restored by him for the show. “The Killer Whale People” reached millions of people worldwide and won an Emmy Award that year. Press the ‘play button for the link:
It should also be noted that the filmmakers of “Blackfish” pirated this restored and copyrighted material for their own segment on the Penn Cove capture, not even bothering to ask Michael for permission. And despite director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s assertion, her film wasn’t the first to interview John on his role in the Penn Cove roundup. “The Killer Whale People” preceded “Blackfish” by about a decade-and-a-half.
In fact, Michael’s interview was actually conducted at a Free Lolita event held by Howard Garrett, who appears prominently and basically narrates the “Blackfish” segment as a “researcher.” It’s inconceivable that Cowperthwaite wouldn’t be aware of this previous work. And for those of you familiar with “Blackfish,” take a good look at the two segments back-to-back — they are shockingly similar. Even some of the edits are the same, down to the exact frame. As it is, Michael was completely blown off by the producers of “Blackfish” when he raised the serious issue of copyright infringement and plagiarism, and has been challenged by their team of attorneys to take the matter to court, an expensive proposition for anyone.
Orca Conservancy has a long history of opposing the capture and captivity of all cetacea, and of course we founded the campaign to bring Lolita home. We support some of the messages of “Blackfish” and are kindred spirits in raising concerns about the cruelty and perils of keeping magnificent creatures like orcas in concrete tanks. Few organizations have done as much as we have for the cause. But we’re also champions of the truth, and sadly “Blackfish” falls short here on many counts. Mainly in dealing truthfully and respectfully with fellow orca advocates and colleague filmmakers and journalists.
The truth always wins out, as John proved in his heroic testimony that winter of 1975/76. Anything less diminishes his memory and contributions to orca freedom.
Shari Tarantino, President, Orca Conservancy, 206 379-0331
An all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Aevitas Inc. has pulled the plug on plans to build a hazardous waste recycling plant by the Fraser River.
Aevitas president Byron Day quietly made the announcement about the Chilliwack plant “with great disappointment” late Wednesday afternoon.
“I regret to inform all interested parties that Aevitas Inc. is no longer pursuing the development and building of a state of the art special waste management facility in Chilliwack.”
The “multiple hurdles” thrown up by critics have amounted to “a neverending uphill battle,” admitted Day.
A coalition of First Nations, environmental groups, river stewards and sport fishing advocates formed to fight the location of the plant, which is less than 200 metres from the Fraser River.
Opponents first stood before Chilliwack city council to oppose the rezoning, they formed a coalition, and signed a petition that yielded thousands of signatures against the riverside location.
It has always been the proximity to the river, that was the sticking point for the Aevitas plan, said Ernie Crey, fisheries advisor to Sto:lo Tribal Council and band council member for Cheam First Nations.
“I am happy to hear this news,” said Crey. “I expected that they would have given up sooner, but I think that Mr. Day has made the right decision under the circumstances.”
The opposition that arose against the project was never a criticism of the Aevitas owner or the recycling processes that they are known for, but rather the location, Crey underlined.
Most recently local First Nations reps met with provincial leadership to share their opposition to the plan.
The waste recycling experts at Aevitas share “the concern of opposition groups to protect the Fraser River,” said Day, but it is “unfortunate that efforts and funding could not be collaborated to develop world class facilities and processes as opposed to stopping them.”
They were promising 10 levels of disaster and flood protection in the design, but critics were never convinced.
“Aevitas has been a leader throughout Canada in these specialized waste recycling niches for more than 20 years,” Day wrote in his statement.
“Our intent was to build a recycling facility that could handle and manage drummed hazardous waste, transformer oil and fluorescent lamps from B.C.”
The Aevitas owner thanked the City of Chilliwack for support and understanding as well as CHP Architects for delivering a top-notch design.
“In this day and age, we do have the means to manage these wastes in as safe and environmentally friendly manner,” Day wrote. “These wastes are present in everyone’s daily lives and without facilities such as the one were proposing, improper disposal disburses them into in the air, land and water.”
email@example.com – twitter.com/CHWKjourno
Letter from Aevitas:
Do you have coins and spare change currently gathering dust in a piggy bank, car console, bottom of your purse, old cookie tins? We all do!
During the month of April, stop in and say hello to the great folks at Dockside Cannabis — and unload that spare change — to make change!
APPROVED: Smith Island Restoration Project / Snohomish County
Orca Conservancy sent the letter below in support of the Smith Island Restoration Project / Snohomish County. This project will directly help revive threatened Chinook salmon in the Puget Sound basin.
Great news! Snohomish County Council voted 4-0 in favor of Ordinance 14-120, authorizing construction of the new setback levee and two large breaches on Union Slough.
Will a project intended to remove toxic waste from the environment end up harming a critically endangered killer whale?
This is what environmentalists fear after the city of Chilliwack, British Columbia, approved a hazardous-waste recycling plant just 150 yards from the Fraser River. The waterway is the world’s No. 1 producer of salmon that feed critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales. Only about 77 of the orcas survive in the wild.
A coalition of more than 30 Canadian and American groups opposed to the facility has launched a petition urging the British Columbia environmental ministry to conduct a thorough assessment of the project.
“We are not opposed to this facility,” states the petition on the website of The WaterWealth Project. “We are opposed to the location. Risks from this facility, if built, include emissions from normal operations, accidents on the site, accidents transporting materials to and from the site, sand flooding from the river.”
Each month the facility would process 92,460 gallons of transformer oil, 1,321 gallons of oil containing PCBs, 150 tons of transformer and electrical equipment, and 50 tons of such equipment containing PCBs, according to a report from the city.
The proposed site, located in a flood zone, is also adjacent to the Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area, which is home to sloughs, wetlands, and gravel bars that provide spawning habitat for salmon species.
The risk to salmon reproduction has alarmed residents, fishers, and conservationists, who note that the lower section of the river has already suffered from overfishing, dams, urbanization, runoff from deforestation, and pollution from pulp mills, mines, and farms.
Activists working to save the Southern Resident killer whale population contend that a chemical spill could wipe out stocks of chinook salmon, the preferred prey of orcas.
“When a spill occurs, it will…create an environmental disaster that will directly affect the endangered Southern Resident killer whales,” Shari Tarantino, president of the Washington state–based Orca Conservancy, wrote in an email.
She said that 80 percent to 90 percent of the chinook consumed by the whales come from the Fraser River. “For this population to have a chance at recovery they need salmon—and lots of it,” she said.
Both the city of Chilliwack and Aevitas Inc., the company seeking to build the plant, insist that every precaution will be taken to avoid an environmental catastrophe.
Jamie Leggatt, Chilliwack’s communications manager, declined an interview request but provided a fact sheet prepared by city officials defending the plan.
“Liquid discharge will not flow into the Fraser River,” the document states. “A multibarrier approach is provided for protection of the environment. All storage areas have secondary containment so that in the event of a spill or puncture of a barrel the spilled material will be contained in the facility.”
Aevitas president Byron Day did not respond to a request for comment. But in a radio interview last month, he said, “We actually protect the river. We’re the ones that are trying to stop mercury and PCBs, which are the primary contaminants in the river.”
Opponents remain unmoved.
“We are in a seismically active region, and there is a pair of dams on the Bridge River, which flows into the Fraser upstream,” Ian Stephen of The WaterWealth Project said in an email. “If one of the dams were to fail, it would create a 10,000-year flood event for the Fraser.”
“Citizens have to be forever vigilant and call on all who share in their values to come together to pressure those in power to make responsible decisions,” said Lina Azeez of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “International pressure proves to our government that the world is watching.”
(L to R) Tamara Shea Kelley, Michael Harris, Jackie Woods, Dr. David Bain, Shari Tarantino (not pictured, Brian Calvert).
Orca Conservancy is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) Washington State non-profit organization working on behalf of Orcinus orca, the killer whale, and protecting the wild places on which it depends.
Orca Conservancy collaborates with some of the world’s top research institutions and environmental groups to address the most critical issues now facing wild orcas.
The organization’s urgent attention is on the endangered Southern Resident orcas of Puget Sound. These three pods, J-Pod, K-Pod and L-Pod, were decimated by the depletion of prey resources, the accumulation of marine toxins, and the destruction of salmon spawning and nearshore habitats, the nurseries of the Salish Sea.
They continue to reel from the effects of the brutal orca capture era of the 1960s and ’70s, where some 57 whales were removed from the Southern and Northern Resident populations and sent to marine parks. They risk being wiped out by a catastrophic oil spill in the Salish Sea, or getting caught in the crossfire of military exercises. And they’re potentially threatened by vessels, particularly private boats not following guidelines established by the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
The organization’s people are leaders in safeguarding critical habitats, advocating creative oil-spill prevention and response measures, establishing better protocols for the Navy to protect sensitive marine life, and in working with whale watchers and scientists to create effective new guidelines for wildlife encounters.
Orca Conservancy is committed to the welfare of all whales and dolphins, and is an authoritative source for information on captive cetaceans and on-going studies on the feasibility of returning these remarkable animals to the wild.
A baby killer whale born in late December is a female and “looking good,” says a relieved Shari Tarantino of the Washington-based Orca Conservancy.
The baby orca reappeared Wednesday with her mother and grandmother in the northern Strait of Georgia after not being seen since the first sighting on Dec. 30.
The baby will be called J-50 but “everybody wants to call it Hope,” Tarantino said, because the calf represents hope for the recovery of the declining J, K and L pods in the Salish Sea, the coastal waters between the southwestern tip of B.C. and the north-western tip of Washington state.
J-50 brings the total in the three southern resident orca pods to 78, but that won’t be official until the baby survives until next winter, said Tarantino, board president of the volunteer group working to protect orcas and their habitat.
Only 16 of the 78 are females of reproductive age, so the birth of a female is especially welcome, Tarantino added. All three pods are classed as endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Reproductive age begins around 14 — a long time to wait for desperately needed new members for the pod.
“This baby is one of the last little hopes we have for this population to survive,” said Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research in Washington state.
Researchers believe that J-50’s mother is J-36. J-36 is swimming with her mother, J-16, who is 43 years of age — normally considered beyond reproductive age.
Because the newborn has bite marks on it — a sign of whale midwifery — researchers believe that J-16 assisted her daughter at what may be her first birth.
“We suspect what happens sometimes in these troubled deliveries, is that another whale sort of gently bites the little baby and pulls it out, and leaves teeth marks,” Balcomb said. “We can definitely see the teeth marks and we surmise that it’s an assisted delivery.”
J-16 has given birth at least five times and would be unlikely to require assistance, but babysitting is not unusual for grandmother orcas, he added. Three of J-16’s offspring continue to swim by her side.
“There just aren’t many reproductive females left in the population and that’s a tragedy that we’ve allowed to happen,” Balcomb said.
The conservancy has carefully catalogued presumed maternities for 40 years using photo-identification verified by genetic studies.
The birth of J-50 is especially good news in light of the recent deaths of two other orcas, Tarantino said. L-120, barely two months old, and the first orca born locally since 2012, died in October. J-32, found floating near Courtenay on Dec. 4, was about age 20 and in a late-term pregnancy. The female fetus died and likely rotted in her womb, causing an infection and the mother was unable to expel the fetus, Tarantino said, adding the official report won’t be out until February.
Researchers are trying to persuade both the Canadian and U.S. governments that the whale diet of salmon needs to be protected.
“We have to have abundant food supplies in order for them to meet the nutritional needs of reproduction and they just haven’t done it,” Balcomb said. “You’ve got to have fish, got to have salmon, got to have chinook salmon, and you’ve got to have lots of it.”
With a file from The Canadian Press.
This is a corrected version of an earlier story.
© Copyright Times Colonist
YOU CAN HELP ORCA CONSERVANCY EARN DONATIONS JUST BY SHOPPING WITH YOUR FRED MEYER REWARDS CARD!
Fred Meyer is donating $2.5 million per year to non-profits in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, based on where their customers tell them to give.
Here’s how the program works:
Orca Conservancy is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) Washington State non-profit organization working on behalf of Orcinus orca, the killer whale, and protecting the wild places on which it depends. All donations received will go directly to researchers in the field and to projects immediately addressing Southern Resident orca recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Everything you donate goes to helping the whales. Orca Conservancy doesn’t keep a penny.
Please help us help them.