UPDATE, Jan. 30, 2 p.m.
K pod was in Rich Passage and heading toward Bremerton when I
talked to Brad Hanson of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. He
did not know the location of J pod at that time.
Over the past week, J pod continued to hang out in the Strait of
Juan de Fuca and general San Juan Islands area, as revealed by a
satellite transmitter attached to J-27, a 24-year-old male named
For the past month, J pod has remained in the inland waterways,
traveling from the mouth of the Strait up into the Canadian Strait
of Georgia, approaching Campbell River. J pod is one of the three
orca pods that frequent Puget Sound. The location of K and L pods
remains largely unknown among whale researchers.
From Wednesday, Jan. 21, to Friday, Jan. 23, the pod stayed
mainly in the outer portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca west of
Sekiu, venturing a short way into the open ocean, before turning
back and shooting up past Saturna Island, north of the San Juans,
by the next afternoon.
The whales traveled south through the San Juans Saturday night
and were back in the Strait on Sunday. At that point, the satellite
tag was automatically switched off to conserve its batteries. When
it came back on Tuesday, the whales were at the entrance to the
Strait of Juan de Fuca, where they meandered about for nearly for a
As of this afternoon, there were indications that J pod and
possibly K pod were coming past Port Townsend on their way into
Puget Sound. Some people are reporting visual sightings of
unidentified orcas, while others are reporting orca calls on the
Salish Sea Hydrophone
Network. I’ll update this as new information comes in. Orca Network’s
Facebook page is usually the place to go for the latest.
The young killer whale born into J pod three weeks ago still
appears to be doing well, according to Dave Ellifrit of the Center
for Whale Research, who observed the calf when her pod came through
the San Juan Islands on Monday.
In his written notes, Dave said the calf, designated J-50, was
staying close to J-16, a 43-year-old female named “Slick.”
Meanwhile, Slick’s daughter, 16-year-old J-36 or Alki, remained
some distance away.
Uncertainty has surrounded the question of whether J-16 is the
mother or the grandmother of the new calf. If she’s the mother, it
will be the first time that an orca over 40 has been known to give
birth, at least among the three pods that frequent Puget Sound.
“While all the J16’s traveled together, J36 was consistently the
farthest of the group from J50, so whatever doubts remained about
J16 being the mother are about gone.”
Ken Balcomb, who founded the Center for Whale Research, was not
with Dave during the encounter. Ken agrees that current evidence
points to J-16 being the mom, but he is still not totally
“I’m staying open,” he told me. “J-16 is certainly the primary
There remains a little matter of the “rake marks” on the back of
the baby orca — most likely caused when an adult whale used its
teeth to pull the newborn from the birth canal. A 16-year-old
female might need some help during delivery, Ken explained, and the
grandmother was the likely one to assist. Such help probably would
not be needed for an older mom, he said.
I thought that the proof of motherhood would come when we knew
who was nursing the baby. While nobody has directly observed any
nursing behavior over the past three weeks, the baby is fattening
up and staying near enough to J-16 to allow such things to
But Ken says it is possible that J-16 could be lactating — even
if she is the grandmother. It’s happened in older pilot whales, he
“It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a grandmother
could play the nurse-maid role,” he said.
There will be no certainty about the lineage, he said, until
genetic testing is performed, and that could take years — assuming
the calf survives. Such tests could come as the result of fecal
sampling or a skin biopsy performed by approved researchers
following the whales, he said.
Meanwhile, since the calf was born, J pod has been moving around
the inland waterways and well up into the Strait of Georgia in
Canada, as revealed by a satellite transmitter carried by J-27, a
24-year-old named Blackberry.
A couple times in the past two weeks, the whales went through
the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the Pacific Ocean. But each
time they quickly turned around and came back,
Last night, Mark Malleson of Prince of Whales, a whale-watching
company, observed J pod along with K pod spread out in the Strait
of Juan de Fuca near Sheringham Point near the south tip of
Vancouver Island, according to his report posted on Orca Network’s Facebook
So far today, I have not heard any more reports, and the next
satellite data won’t be available until later.
The succession of maps on this page shows the travels of J pod
since they touched the outer coast 10 days ago. (Click on the
images to enlarge.)
J pod crossed the Canadian border and came into Puget Sound over
this past weekend, allowing Brad Hanson and his fellow researchers
to meet up with whales.
Brad, of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, was able to
locate the killer whales from a satellite transmitter attached to
J-27, a 24-year-old male named Blackberry.
As you can see from the chart, the whales swam south, then
turned back north near Vashon and Maury islands. The researchers
met up with them Saturday morning on their return trip past
Seattle’s Elliott Bay, according to an update on the
The newest baby in J pod, designated J-50, was spotted with
J-16, according to the report from Hanson and crew. Other reports
have indicated that J-36 was also nearby, so it appears that the
new calf’s mother still is not certain. Researchers agree that the
mom is either J-36, a 15-year-old orca named Alki, or else Alki’s
mother — 42-year-old J-16, named Slick.
The researchers collected scraps of fish left behind by the
orcas’ hunting activities. Fecal samples also were collected. Those
various samples will help determine what the whales were
Orca Network published photos taken by whale observers near
Edmonds north of Seattle as well as from Point No Point in North
Yesterday, J pod headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The
map shows them at the entrance to the strait going toward the ocean
at 6:15 this morning.
Orca Network reports that K and L pods apparently headed into
Canada’s Strait of Georgia on Friday, as J pod moved into Puget
Sound. It sounds like the two pods missed each other. We’ll see if
they meet up in the next few days.
Meanwhile, at least one group of transient killer whales has
been exploring South Puget Sound for more than 50 days, according
to the Orca Network report. That’s a rare occurrence indeed. A
second group of transients has been around for much of that time as
The title of the book “War of the Whales” comes from the
“cultural war” between the Navy, which is primarily interested in
national security, and environmental advocates trying to protect
whales, according to author Joshua Horwitz.
“You have these two groups that care about the whales but for
different reasons,” Josh told me in a telephone interview. “One
group is trying to save the whales; the other is trying to get a
leg up on the Cold War.”
As I described yesterday in
Water Ways, “War of the Whales” is really several stories woven
into an exquisitely detailed narrative. I found the biography of
Ken Balcomb, who served in the Navy, especially compelling within
the full context of the Navy’s involvement with marine mammals.
Horwitz was successful in interviewing retired Navy officers,
who explained anti-submarine warfare and put the Navy’s viewpoint
“I have a lot of respect for the Navy,” he said. “None of these
guys are villains. This is a totally different story from
‘Blackfish.’ The Navy is a lot more complicated.”
While SeaWorld, the subject of Blackfish, and other aquariums
exploit marine mammals for commercial purposes, the Navy has our
national interest at heart, Josh said, adding that some Navy
officials failed to understand the full implications of the harm
they were doing.
“They hate to see their reputation sullied as good stewards of
the environment,” he noted. “They do care, and it almost tears them
up that they have gotten a black eye.”
Through a series of lawsuits, the Navy was forced to confront
the effects of its testing and training exercises with sonar, Josh
“I think the Navy has come a long way on what they do on ranges
on our coasts,” he said. “They are taking the process much more
seriously now. But they still aren’t doing that on the foreign
New lawsuits have been filed by NRDC based on potential impacts
to marine mammals, as revealed in a series of environmental impact
statements dealing with the effects of Navy training.
“I really do feel that it is important to keep the pressure on
the Navy and the government on all fronts,” Josh said. “There is a
limit to what the courts can do. And there are enough good actors
inside the Navy.”
One lawsuit, which Horwitz followed closely in “War of the
Whales,” focused on violations of environmental and administrative
law — until the Navy pulled out its “national security card.” The
U.S. Supreme Court seemed reluctant to put a hard edge on its
ruling, thus allowing uncertain security threats to trump potential
harm to marine life.
Josh contends that responsible parties from all sides should sit
down together and work out reasonable procedures for Navy training.
They should include exclusionary zones for the deployment of sonar
and live bombing in areas where whales go, at least during times
when whales are likely to be there.
More could be done with computer simulations to train Navy
personnel, he said. The other armed services are doing much more in
terms of simulating and responding to conditions that may be
encountered in real life.
“I have heard from well-placed people in the Navy that there is
room for vastly increasing the amount of simulation training,” he
“We know you can’t land an aircraft on a carrier (with
simulation), but if you can reduce the amount of live training, it
would be a win for everybody,” he added.
Simulations would not only reduce the impact on the marine
ecosystem, it would reduce the Navy’s cost of training, its use of
energy and its overall carbon footprint.
One thing is for sure, he said. Government oversight into the
Navy’s operations is nothing like the oversight into private
business. The National Marine Fisheries Service is so outgunned by
the Navy in terms of “political muscle” that the agency is
relegated to approving practically anything the Navy wants to do.
“I hope that comes through in the book,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Navy has developed the technology that could help
quiet commercial ships and reduce the noise and stress on marine
life throughout the world, he said.
“The Navy could take the lead and wear the white hat and save
the ocean from noise pollution,” Josh told me. “When you mitigate
for noise, the pollution goes away. It’s not like plastic pollution
that will still be there for a very long time.”
At the start, Horwitz was not sure what kind of story would
develop. It began with a meeting with Joel Reynolds, the lead
attorney for NRDC. At the time, Josh had just taken his 13-year-old
daughter on a whale-watching trip to Baja, Mexico. Like many of us,
he got sucked into one whale story after another, and he came to
learn about the Navy’s long and complicated relationship with
Horwitz has been involved in the publishing industry since the
1990s. He calls himself a kind of “midwife” for new books, which
involves putting writers together with characters who have a great
story to tell. He initially planned to “package” the story of the
whales by working with a professional journalist, but his wife
encouraged him to forge his passion into a book of his own.
Josh had co-written a handful of books in his life, including
some children’s books, after he graduated from film school at New
York University. But this was the first time he had tackled a
project with the breadth and depth of the story that became “War of
the Whales.” The project took seven years to research, write and
craft into a full-length, hard-bound book. Now, a paperback version
is in the works.
During the early part of the project, Josh continued part-time
with his publishing business. Over the final two years or so, he
devoted his full effort into the writing and follow-up research. To
pay the bills, he supplemented his publisher’s advance with money
raised through The Ocean Foundation.
By the time the writing was done, several editors who originally
expressed interest in the book were no longer in the business, he
said. As luck would have it, one interested editor had risen in the
ranks to publisher and was able to help him complete the project
and get the book into print.
Josh and his wife, Ericka Markman, live in Washington, D.C.,
with their three daughters, ages 20, 18 and 13.
In the book “War of the Whales,” author Joshua Horwitz reveals,
in exquisite detail, how Ken Balcomb played a central role in
showing how Navy sonar was killing and injuring whales around the
Ken, who we know as the dean of orca research in Puget Sound,
has not been alone, of course, in the quest to get the Navy to
better protect marine mammals. Horwitz introduces us to a variety
of people, each with his or her own interest in saving the
Frankly, I was surprised at how much I learned from the book,
given that I have been covering these same issues as a reporter for
many years. What really gained my admiration for Horwitz was how he
was able to weave scientific and historical aspects of the story
into a gripping tale that reads like a detective thriller.
I consider this book to be several stories woven into one.
First, there are the personal biographies of two key players in
this conflict with the Navy. The lives of Ken Balcomb, of the
Center for Whale Research, and Joel Reynolds, of the Natural
Resources Defense Council, became intertwined with each other after
the NRDC sued the Navy over its use of sonar around whales.
Next, we are given the history of the Navy’s sonar technology,
developed to track stealthy submarines. We meet many of the Navy
officials involved, including some who became emotionally involved
with marine mammals, flipping to the other side, as Horwitz
The Navy has long controlled much of the research involving
marine mammals — the original models for sonar. At times, whales
and dolphins were even trained as military combatants, with mixed
Last, but not least, we are shown the legal arguments related to
environmental law versus the need for national security. As a
result, we see how the Navy has become more open today about the
risks to whales from its testing and training procedures.
Horwitz paints intimate portraits of many of the characters,
especially Balcomb, the biologist, and Reynolds, the lawyer. He
sees the pair coming together from different backgrounds and
uniting in their effort to protect the whales against the Navy’s
single-minded approach to national security.
“Ken was such an extraordinary character,” Horwitz told me in a
telephone interview. “He was a reluctant activist. Activism wasn’t
The story begins in the Bahamas, where Balcomb was doing
research when a mass stranding of beaked whales took place,
practically at his doorstep. Navy sonar had been suspected of
killing whales in other areas of the world, but Balcomb was able to
secure fresh tissues — essential evidence to understand how their
injuries were caused by sound waves. Balcomb also observed that the
Navy was conducting exercises in the Bahamas at the same time, and
he made the connection to the dead whales.
From there, other researchers and policy officials became
involved, but Balcomb kept pushing to keep the incident from being
swept under the rug.
“Ken’s investment was immediate,” Horwitz explained. “One night
the Navy just plowed through and decimated this population of
We learn from the book about Ken’s serendipitous life. As a
young biologist, he collected whale lungs for research by going to
a commercial whaling station still operating in California. He
later signed onto a research crew as a dishwasher, but his skills
with a shotgun earned him the lead job of tagging whales.
Balcomb joined the Navy during the Vietnam War and became a
pilot. A series of circumstances led him into Fleet Sonar School
and the Navy’s highly secretive Sound Surveillance System, or
SOSUS. At the same time, his compatriots in graduate school became
some of the top marine mammal experts for the Navy and the National
Marine Fisheries Service. His later interactions with these folks
revealed something about their past and present positions in
Horwitz ties all these pieces of the story together in a
compelling narrative that kept offering me new and surprising
tidbits of information. It took the author seven years to complete
“He kept asking over and over the same questions,” said Ken,
somewhat amused when I asked him about it. “I didn’t know if he had
confused notes or what.”
Horwitz was seeking an extraordinary level of precision and
accuracy, so that his telling of this true and controversial story
could not be assailed.
Balcomb said he could find no errors, except for the conscious
decision by Horowitz and his editors to describe two overflights by
Balcomb in the Bahamas as a single event.
Most surprising of all was the account from Navy officials,
whose story about underwater warfare has rarely been told, except
perhaps in novels by Tom Clancy and others. Horwitz said
active-duty military officials were no help to him, but he got to
know retired Admiral Dick Pittenger, who opened doors to other
“He (Pittenger) was a total career Navy guy, but he was
skeptical about the way the Navy was handling some of these
matters,” Horwitz said, noting that the admiral spent days helping
him understand anti-submarine warfare.
Pittenger wanted the story told right, and he must have been
satisfied with the result, since he offered this comment in
promotional materials for the book:
“‘War of the Whales’ is an important book about a major
post-Cold War problem: the often conflicting goals of national
security and environmental protection. The author presents this
very complex and multidimensional story with great clarity.
“I’m certain that no one who has been involved with this issue
will agree with everything in this book (I don’t). But the topic
is, by its nature, so emotionally charged and controversial that I
doubt anyone can read it without a strong personal response. The
importance of this book is that it tells the ‘inside’ story to the
wide reading public in a compelling way.”
In my mind, Horwitz did a remarkable job of capturing the
relevant facts for this complicated story. He then seamlessly
joined the pieces together into a coherent and dramatic story — one
especially important to those of us living in an area where the
Navy maintains a strong presence among an abundance of marine
Check back to “Watching Our Water Ways” tomorrow, when I will
describe more of Josh Horowitz’s personal views about his book and
what he learned along the way.
Thanks to a baby photo from Jane Cogan, the newest killer whale
in J pod has been identified as a girl, according to Ken Balcomb of
the Center for Whale Research.
We still don’t know whether the mother is 42-year-old J-16,
known as Slick, or Slick’s 16-year-old daughter J-36, known as
Alki. At moment, the family group, which consists of J-16, her
three offspring plus the new calf, are sticking close together.
“It may take a little time for us to sort it out,” Ken told me,
but the mother should become apparent within a few weeks, if not
sooner, because the calf must be getting milk from the mom. From
all indications, the little one is doing fine.
Initially, the calf was thought to be the offspring of J-16,
because J-36 was some distance away. But now it seems just as
likely that J-16 was babysitting while J-36 got some rest, Ken told
Yesterday, Jane and Tom Cogan of San Juan Island took an
overnight trip up north into British Columbia, where J pod has been
swimming near Texada Island since the beginning of the new year.
Jane sent back a good photograph of the baby’s underneath side.
According to Ken, it is not unusual for mothers to roll their
babies near the surface of the water.
Female killer whales have a more rounded pattern in the genital
area, while males have a more elongated pattern of coloration. A
good photo is all it takes to tell a boy from a girl. For
comparison, see Questions
& Answers at Center for Whale Research website.
I talked to Tom briefly this afternoon. He told me that J-50 was
acting playful at times, like young whales will do, with some tail
slapping and porpoising.
“I would say it looked healthy,” he said. “It was following J-16
a lot of the time, but all of the family was in the area, and they
would group up at times.
“We’ll show Ken our pictures and debrief him when we get back,”
A 24-year-old male orca named Blackberry, designated J-27, has
been carrying a satellite transmitter since Monday, allowing
experts to track the movements of J pod.
The research project, started in 2011 and led by Brad Hanson of
the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, is designed to figure out
where J pod goes in winter and early spring. J pod does not seem to
travel far down the West Coast, as K and L pods do.
As luck would have it, the satellite tag was in place Wednesday
when a portion of J pod headed into East Sound on the south side of
Orcas Island. A day later, they were seen by observers with a new
calf, J-50, which I reported in
Water Ways yesterday and updated today. Nobody seems to recall
the whales ever going into that waterway, as suggested by comments
to a post on Orca
Network’s Facebook page yesterday at 5:19 p.m. It’s long been
speculated that orcas seek out calm waters, when possible, to give
The mother of J-50 is still a mystery, though it could be solved
as observers notice which adult female is spending the most time
with the young animal.
After J-27 was tagged about equidistant from Sequim, Whidbey
Island, San Juan Island and Victoria, the whales worked their way
through the islands near the Canadian border, then moved north to
Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia, east of Comox, B.C. As of
this morning, they were still traveling around that general
vicinity, as you can see from the map on this page and previous
maps on the project’s webpage. The page called
“2015 Southern Resident Killer Whale Satellite Tagging” also
contains information about the project’s goals.
I have written about these tagging efforts and the controversy
surrounding them since permits were first proposed under the
Endangered Species Act. You’ll find last year’s stories and links
to previous stories in Water Ways on
Jan. 3, 2014, and later on
Jan. 14, 2014. You can also search the blog for “satellite and
orcas” to find just about everything I’ve blogged about on the
After thinking it over, Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale
Researchers says it is likely that J-16 is the grandmother of the
new calf, not the mother.
J-16, known as Slick, could have been babysitting the young
whale when the two were spotted by observers. If so, the mom is
probably J-36, a 15-year-old female named Alki, who was following a
few miles behind at the time.
The pattern of older whales taking care of young relatives has
been seen many times before, occasionally even with newborns, Ken
told me. The mother may have needed some time for rest and recovery
after giving birth, especially if it was a tough delivery, he
The baby had evident scratches, known as “rake marks,” on its
back and dorsal fin caused by the teeth of another killer whale,
Ken said. He believes it could be an indication that the
grandmother assisted with the birth.
Whoever the mother is, the baby’s condition indicates that it
has been nursing, and that’s a good sign.
If J-16 is the mother, she would be the oldest known orca to
give birth among the three Southern Resident pods. If it is J-36,
then the young mom could need help from her own mother.
If J-36 is the mom, then she should be spending most of her time
with her new baby. That could come within a few days or up to a
couple weeks, Ken told me. Observers are making a special effort to
see who is spending time with whom over the next few days.
“This is an interesting little mystery,” Ken said. “If the
whales do their part, we should be able to figure it out.”
Tracking them could be made easier because of a satellite tag
attached to another member of J pod — J-27, a 24-year-old male
named Blackberry. The barbed tag was attached to the whale’s dorsal
fin in open waters about equidistant from Sequim, Whidbey Island,
Victoria and the south end of San Juan Island. Since then, the
whales have moved north into Canada. I’ll soon have a separate blog
post on the tracking study.
A newborn killer whale, reported Tuesday by the Center for Whale
Research, was identified as the offspring of 42-year-old J-16 — the
oldest known orca to ever give birth among the three Puget Sound
“No other female has given birth at over 42 years of age in the
four decades of demographic field studies of the Southern Resident
orcas,” according to a statement from
Orca Network. “J-16 was not expected to be carrying a calf due
to her advanced age.”
It’s odd how the circumstances have worked out. The birth of
this new calf, designated J-50, becomes the first major news story
about the Southern Residents since we heard about the death of
J-32, named Rhapsody. See Water Ways for
Dec. 7 and a later report on
Rhapsody was only 18 years old when she died carrying an unborn
calf. Before her death, experts had high hopes that Rhapsody would
live long and produce many babies. If she had ever given birth
before, her offspring died before they were noticed by
So it is that we have the death of a young killer whale with an
unborn calf and now a new birth to an older whale thought to be
beyond reproductive age. Let’s hope this new baby orca survives,
lives long and contributes to the endangered killer whale
J-16, named Slick, has six known offspring, including the new
baby. Three others are still alive: J-26, a male named Mike, born
in 1991; J-36, a female named Alki, born in 1999; and J-42, a
female named Echo, born in 2007. The deceased offspring are a male
that died at 14 years of age in 2010 and a baby orca that died in
2011 after living about a month.
The seventh season of “Whale Wars” — a three-hour presentation
premiering on Friday — follows on the heels of an unresolved
contempt-of-court ruling against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
earlier this month.
The new program, to be shown at 5 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. on
Animal Planet network, documents the 2013-2014 Antarctic whaling
season and the sometimes-violent confrontation between Sea Shepherd
and Japanese whalers. Check out the
While Sea Shepherd faces some serious court rulings, the
Japanese government finds itself in conflict with the International
Court of Justice, which concluded that its “scientific” whaling
program does not conform to scientific principles — which was the
legal justification for the program — so the whaling must stop, at
least for now. See
Water Ways, March 24, 2014.
Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd, appears to have ticked off
the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which first called his
group a “pirate” operation in December 2012. The court issued an
injunction to keep Sea Shepherd ships at least 500 feet away from
the Japanese whaling vessels. (See
Water Ways, Feb. 26, 2013.)
In its latest ruling on Dec. 19, the court says Watson and Sea
Shepherd’s U.S. board of directors acted contrary to its injunction
by shifting their anti-whaling operations over to the related group
Sea Shepherd, Australia. In the court’s view, Watson should have
done what was necessary to halt the anti-whaling tactics, not find
a way to continue them. As
Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. wrote in his findings (PDF 127
“Sea Shepherd US’s separation strategy effectively nullified our
injunction by ensuring that OZT (Operation Zero Tolerance)
proceeded unimpeded, in part by using former Sea Shepherd US
assets. Sea Shepherd US ceded control over OZT to Sea Shepherd
Australia and other Sea Shepherd entities it believed to be beyond
the injunction’s reach, knowing these entities were virtually
certain to violate the injunction.
“At the same time, Sea Shepherd US continued to provide
financial and other support for OZT after the injunction by, among
other things, transferring for no consideration a vessel and
equipment worth millions of dollars to Sea Shepherd Australia and
“Rather than instruct its employees to help prevent OZT, Sea
Shepherd US effectively shifted these employees to its affiliates’
payrolls to ensure continued participation in a campaign it knew
was very likely to result in violations of the injunction…
“Our objective in issuing the injunction was to stop Sea
Shepherd from attacking the plaintiffs’ vessels. Sea Shepherd US
thwarted that objective by furnishing other Sea Shepherd entities
with the means to do what it could not after the issuance of the
injunction. It has long been settled law that a person with notice
of an injunction may be held in contempt for aiding and abetting a
party in violating it.”
These court findings were all related to Operation Zero
Tolerance, the Sea Shepherd campaign that ended in March of 2013.
The ruling did not address Operation Relentless, which ended in
March of 2014 and is the subject of Friday’s “Whale Wars” event. I
wonder if Japan will attempt to use the U.S. courts to collect for
damages related to the latest conflict.
The International Court of Justice ruling against the Japanese
whaling operations seems to have had no effect on how the U.S.
Court of Appeals views Sea Shepherd’s actions. Sea Shepherd’s
activities were still illegal, the court ruled, and the injunction
would still be needed if the whaling were to resume under
conditions acceptable to the international court. See
“order denying defendants’ motion to dismiss” (PDF 308 kb).
In fact, although whaling was suspended for the 2014-15 season,
the Japanese government has submitted a new plan
(PDF 2.3 mb) to resume whaling at this time next year. The plan
calls for an annual harvest of 333 minke whales — as opposed to the
previous plan to take 850 minkes, 50 humpbacks and 50 fin whales.
For additional insight on the controversy, read Dennis Normile’s
Science Insider, affiliated with Science magazine.
As for the upcoming “Whale Wars” special, a
news release from Animal Planet says the action will be as
exciting as ever, even with Paul Watson gone from the scene:
“With Captain (Peter) Hammarstedt once again at the helm and
tensions with the whalers at an all-time high, this new campaign
will likely be the most aggressive and dangerous the Sea Shepherds
This episode of “Whale Wars” was produced by Lizard Trading
Company, using raw footage filmed by Sea Shepherd crew members.
That’s similar to the arrangement for last year’s two-hour special.
Water Ways, Nov. 7, 2013.)
I’d like to offer something quite different for this week’s
“Amusing Monday.” It’s a 19-minute video featuring Ingrid Visser,
one of the world’s leading experts on killer whales.
One of the highlights of the video is the rescue of an orca
imperiled with a rope and buoy caught around her tail. Without the
rescue, which begins at 10:25 into the video, the whale probably
would have died. If you continue watching, you’ll see shots taken
from a camera on the whale’s dorsal fin, giving you a glimpse into
the life of a killer whale.
Ingrid’s base of operations is New Zealand, but she has been to
Puget Sound numerous times, as well as many other places where
orcas reside. I’ve always admired her for her personal approach to
understanding orcas throughout the world.
The video provides an insight into Ingrid’s life, research and
interests. It’s appropriate that it begins with her discussing
orcas with a group of young students. For more information, check
out the Facebook
page for Orca Research Trust or the related webpage for
The video was produced by a team of photographers to introduce
the new high-speed, high-definition GoPro
camera called HERO4.The video was the sixth in a series called
“The Adventure of Life in 4K.”