FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Harris (206) 465-6692
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
“Jessica will never realize her dream of owning her very own horse. But she did realize others.
After watching ‘Free Wily’ last year, she became fascinated with orca whales. She researched them and dreamed of seeing one with her own eyes…”
LET’S NAME THE NEXT BABY ORCA “JESSICA”
Orca Conservancy, Free Willy-Keiko Foundation and the Pacific Whale Watch Association Urge Special Honor for Newtown, CT Victim
As the public begins to learn more about the 26 children and educators who lost their lives in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, December 14, the story of one little girl in particular has touched the heart of those working to protect this region’s resident killer whales.
Six-year-old Jessica Rekos was an animal lover. She hoped one day to have her own horse. NBC News reports that “after watching ‘Free Willy’ last year, she became fascinated with orca whales. She researched them and dreamed of seeing one with her own eyes…”
Jessica will never get a chance to see an orca in the wild, but we have an extraordinary opportunity here in the Pacific Northwest to honor her and her dream.
Let’s name our next baby orca, “Jessica.”
The population of Southern Resident killer whales in Puget Sound and the Straits – J, K and L-Pods – are designated by The Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island with alpha-numerics (i.e., J2, K21, L41), but new orcas are also named by organizations and at times through newspaper contests.
Orca Conservancy, Free Willy-Keiko Foundation and the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA), representing 31 operators in Washington and British Columbia, feel there’s no better way for the orca advocacy and research community to honor Jessica and all the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy than to have one of these majestic animals, known as some of the most caretaking, familial creatures on Earth, to carry her name.
“There’s no more appropriate thing that we can do out here than this,” said Brian Goodremont, U.S. President of the PWWA. “I’m sure that we would’ve seen Jessica one day on one of our boats. And I’m sure that experience would’ve encouraged her to pursue a career in marine biology or some other lifelong commitment to helping whales. If we can name one of these baby orcas after Jessica, every time we see that baby out here, we’ll be able to tell kids and parents her story.”
“Keiko’s journey was an extraordinary one,” said David Phillips, Executive Director of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation. “Going from a tiny tank in Mexico City, then to Newport, Oregon, and then on to freedom in Iceland and Norway. As challenging as that endeavor was, we always knew that young people around the world were inspired by Keiko’s courage, and that always inspired us.”
“When we heard that Jessica loved orcas and wanted so much to see one, it touched our hearts,” said Michael Harris, Board Member of Orca Conservancy. “We can’t bring Jessica back, but we can certainly do all we can out here to protect these whales – including this new baby who’d bear her name – and make sure that kids like Jessica, no matter where they live, get an opportunity one day to see them in the wild.”
For more information about how to help wild killer whales, contact The Center for Whale Research (www.whaleresearch.com).