Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Berta’

If only whales could vote …

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

UPDATE, Nov. 13, 2012
We still don’t know much about the methods that campaigns use to persuade voters, including the mining of Facebook data. But ProPublica brings us some information in an article titled “Everything We Know (So Far) About Obama’s Big Data Tactics.” While this doesn’t have much to do with water issues, it certainly ties into the email that Susan Berta received on election day.
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Earlier today, Susan Berta of Orca Network received what appears to be a computer-generated email from President Obama’s campaign headquarters. The email, probably part of a final push for votes, has generated some election-day levity.

Here’s the message:

“Hey Susan — don’t wait a moment.
“Share this on Facebook with Lolita and xxxx — and tell them to vote today. They live in battleground states where, even at this time on Election Day, this is still anybody’s race. They’re more likely to vote if you remind them — and when the polls close, you’ll know you gave President Obama a nice last-minute lift.”

Lolita, of course, is the killer whale from Puget Sound who has spent most of her life in a tank in Miami’s Seaquarium. (See Water Ways, Oct. 24.) Florida is indeed a battleground state where both President Obama and Mitt Romney are looking for every vote they can get.

Susan probably received the message based on her personal Facebook page, where she is signed up as friends with numerous advocates who would like to bring Lolita back home to Puget Sound. Some people use the word “Lolita” in the name of their Facebook page dedicated to the whale. No doubt some computer made the connection between Susan and her “friend” Lolita, who is old enough to vote … if only she were human.

Susan told me she didn’t want to post anything political on Orca Network’s Facebook page, but she couldn’t resist sharing this email with a wider audience. I told her this isn’t political; it’s just funny.

Now, if whales were given the power of the ballot, what kind of voting block would they become? And how would candidates appeal to this minority group?


Resident orcas check out Whidbey, North Kitsap

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Susan Berta of Orca Network shot some nice video of J pod, one of our three resident pods, about 50 feet off Whidbey Island’s Bush Point Lighthouse on Saturday. (Click on video player.)

The orcas haven’t been spending as much time in Puget Sound this year as usual, and nobody is sure why. As of last week, lower-than-usual numbers of chum salmon were reported in local streams — but that doesn’t mean the salmon are not somewhere in Puget Sound. It’s kind of a waiting game at this point, and I plan to write a story updating the salmon picture in the next day or two.

On Saturday, orcas were first reported heading south between Whidbey and Marrowstone islands about 1 p.m., according to several reports made to Orca Network. They seemed to linger at Bush Point.

During the night, they must have headed farther south along the Kitsap Peninsula, because about 8 a.m. Sunday they were headed back north past Point No Point near the tip of the peninsula. Then they rounded the point and stayed awhile off Hansville’s Foulweather Bluff, according to one resident.

By Sunday afternoon, they were slowly heading back toward Point No Point, which they reached late in the day, still traveling south. Not surprisingly, nightly reports are few and far between, and the whales often pop up somewhere else the next day.

No confirmed sightings were reported until yesterday afternoon, when J and K pod, along with L-87, were spotted off the south end of Vancouver Island. They were widely spread out and heading west out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to observers.

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Watch the crazy orca … but ‘hold onto the boat!’

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I’m not sure who’s having more fun in the video below — the killer whale or the man and his son who were treated to a close swim-by. According to accompanying notes, the video was shot over the weekend at the southeast side of Vashon Island.

Susan Berta of Orca Network tells me that the whales shown in the video are probably the three seal-eating transients that have been spotted around Puget Sound lately, though they could be another group.

These whales certainly were not in their stealthy hunting mode, so I was thinking that maybe they had a little time to play around and were checking out the two people in the floating craft.

Susan concurred: “I think the whales are often playing with us, checking us out, and just having fun.”

By swimming upside down, they can get a better look at the boat and its occupants.

Jeanne Hyde in her “Whale of a Purpose” blog talks about a group of transients swimming backwards. Could be the same silly whales caught on this video.


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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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