Orca Network

Orca Network - connecting whales and people in the Pacific Northwest Orca Network is dedicated to raising awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats. Orca Network finds ways for people to work together to protect the rich, beautiful, diverse habitats and inhabitants of Puget Sound. An extended clan of Orcinu...

Orca Network
485 Labella Vista Way
Freeland, WA 98249
United States
360-331-3543
http://www.orcanetwork.org

President

Howard Garrett

Management Team

Susan Berta

Board of Directors

Howard Garrett, Susan Berta, Sandy Dubpernell, Dave Anderson, Karen Anderson, Fred Lundahl, Jill Hein

Project Leaders

Susan Berta

Mission

Orca Network - connecting whales and people in the Pacific Northwest Orca Network is dedicated to raising awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats. Orca Network finds ways for people to work together to protect the rich, beautiful, diverse habitats and inhabitants of Puget Sound. An extended clan of Orcinus orca, or orcas, socialize and forage in the inland waters of Washington State and British Columbia. Both male and female offspring remain with their mothers their entire lives. No other species, and not all orca communities, show lifetime association of mothers with both male and female offspring. Cultural traditions such as lifetime family bonding allow distinct vocal repertoires and complex social systems to develop within each pod and community, unlike any other mammal except humans. Their dialects are similar to human language groups, and assure them a place in their society. Known as the Southern Resident Orca community, or the Salish Sea Orcas, they move gracefully just downstream from an increasingly urban landscape. Worldwide field studies are now showing that there are several dozen orca communities distributed throughout marine habitats, each with its own vocal repertoire, its own specialized diet, its own hunting methods and social systems, and each is genetically distinct from all the others. We are on the verge of recognition by the scientific community that orcas can be considered as nomadic foraging tribes, living according to traditions passed down generation after generation, for many thousands of years. But all is not well. Orcas need clean, uncontaminated water and plentiful fish. Chinook salmon, the Salish Sea orcas' main food source, are in historic decline throughout the region. Habitat degradation, industrial poisons such as PCBs, and other impacts of human activities are taking their toll on the orcas we have come to know and love. We are all intricately connected, from tiny plankton to forage fish, salmon, orcas, tall firs and cedars, mountains, rivers and the ocean. It is time to reflect, to reconnect, and to respond as better caretakers of our planet.

Programs

Whale Sighting Network: Orca Network's most popular program is the Whale Sighting Network - we have over 8,000 subscribers to our free E-list of Whale Reports; and 21,000 "likes" on our Facebook page, which is a very active page for sharing whale reports, photos, videos, news, issues and action alerts relating to whales. The purpose of Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network and Education Project is to encourage shoreline observation and increase awareness and knowledge about the Southern Resident Community of orcas (J, K and L pods), and foster a stewardship ethic and motivate a diverse audience to take action to protect and restore the Salish Sea. Whale reports are collected from the public via phone, email, facebook and our website; then distributed to researchers, agencies, educators, and the public via our Whale Sighting Report email list, Orca Network website and Facebook & Twitter pages. Reports of orcas, humpbacks, grays, minkes, and other cetaceans are collected, providing valuable data on travel, behavior, and habitat use by these species, for researchers and managers working to recover the species that are endangered or declining. The Sighting Network actively involves the public in submitting reports, and this process not only educates people about the whales, but creates advocates for the whales as people learn more about them and the issues that affect them and the habitat in which they live. Educational Programs: Orca Network provides educational programs and publications for naturalists, schools, educators, whale watch companies, and more. Publications include three volumes of the book "Orcas in Our Midst" with accompanying student activities. Educational programs and events include our annual "Ways of Whales" workshop, a day-long workshop bringing presentations from top whale researchers to the public; "Welcome the Whales Day" festival and parade, to celebrate our local gray whales, including an educational presentation by researchers with the latest news and research on gray whales; The Orca Capture Commemoration event, to remember the 45 orcas captured in Washington waters and the dozen orcas killed during the capture, and educate the public about the inappropriateness of keeping these large, intelligent, social, sentient beings in small tanks to perform for our entertainment and profit; Orca Month, held each June to raise awareness of the endangered Southern Resident Community of orcas; and ongoing presentations to community groups, schools, on Washington State Ferries, and at events sponsored by other organizations. Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network: Orca Network's Marine Mammal Stranding Network (Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network) responds to marine mammal strandings and seal pups on beaches in Island, Skagit and N. Snohomish counties in Washington State. We work under the auspices of NOAA Fisheries NW Region, collecting important information on stranded marine mammals, which in turn provides information on the health of our oceans. We have over 200 volunteers who assist in responding to stranded marine mammals, and work with Dr. Stephanie Norman, DVM, to conduct necropsies on fresh dead marine mammals, to determine cause of death. Samples from marine mammals are tested for diseases and pollutants, which provides NOAA Fisheries and researchers clues into the health and survival of different species. The Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network responds to the 2nd highest number of strandings in Washington State, covering a wide area that is home to many different species of marine mammals. Orca Network has been able to provide this service through assistance from NOAA's John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Stranding Fund; however, this funding is currently on the chopping block of the Federal Budget for FY2013, which means funding for all stranding networks nation-wide could go away in 2013. Orca Network has no other means to fund this program, and costs to contract with our marine mammal veterinarian and to test samples are higher than our small budget would allow. Campaign to retire the captive L pod orca known as "Lolita" (at the Seaquarium in Miami, FL - alone in the smallest tank in the country since 1970) and bring her back to her home waters and family (Southern Resident community) in Washington State. Working with whale researchers, Orca Network has developed a proposal for Lolita's retirement to a seapen, where she could meet up with her family and be reintroduced to the wild after a carefully planned rehabilitation program in her seapen. Orca Network is also active in educating the public about the hazards of keeping free-ranging, wild orcas in captivity. Lolita is a very special orca. Her survival is beyond all expectations. Of the 45 of Lolita's extended family, the Southern Resident orcas, captured and delivered to parks around the world between 1965 and 1975, all the others were dead by 1987. She is known to be courageous, yet so very gentle. She has endured 37 years of confinement while performing two shows per day, without the company of any other orca since 1980. She deserves a chance to retire to her home waters and visit with her family once again. When Lolita was about three years old, on August 8, 1970, with her family of around 110 orcas gathered in Puget Sound, capture boats and aircraft began hurling bombs into the water to herd them into a small cove. This orca clan had been assaulted by capture teams before and knew what they had in mind. The whales split into two groups. One group, with females and their young, stayed underwater and tried to escape to the north, while the rest acted as decoys and headed east. At first the distraction worked, but eventually the mothers and young ones had to come up for air, and the aircraft saw them. The capture boats then herded them into Penn Cove on Whidbey Island. All the others soon followed, and though they were not held in the cove by nets they would not leave while members of their family were restrained. The capture team separated six young ones like Lolita from their mothers and lifted them onto flatbed trucks for delivery to marine parks worldwide. First called Tokitae, Lolita was sold to a marine park in Miami and put in a pool only 18 feet deep, 35 feet by 80 feet across. She was placed with a young male named Hugo, taken from Lolita's family 18 months earlier. The two performed in perfect synchrony for ten years, until as Hugo matured into a large male he repeatedly bashed his head against the walls and windows, until he died of a brain aneurism in 1980. Except for trainers and some dolphins, Lolita has been alone in the same tank since Hugo died.

Statistics on Orca Network

Financial Statistics

  • Annual Budget for 2013: $75,000
  • Maximum Annual Budget: $125,000

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