Upon hearing the quote above, the truth of it gutted me.
If we lose the endangered Southern Residents Orca, it will be the first time in human history that we let a population vanish having studied them for so long that each individual is known, most since their birth.
Currently at 75 whales, we know what has depleted the Southern Resident population. We know the current threats they face (and we know that these are synergistic). We know that the threats will be intensified due to a changing climate. We know enough to provide a life history on every individual that dies – their age, their lineage, their culture.
This captures so powerfully how we are participants in their demise. There is no surprise here. There is even acknowledgment by Canada’s National Energy Board of how precarious their survival is. In reviewing a proposed pipeline expansion they report: “Project-related marine shipping is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the Southern resident killer whale”.
And yet the recommendation is, to proceed with the Project.
Please take the time to reflect on this, to help share the reality but not to give in to despondency. Rather rise to a roaring “HELL NO”. NOT on our watch. NOT with our knowing.
I will say it again and again and again: the whales are barometers of our value systems and indicators of environmental health. How we treat them will ultimately be a measure of how we treat ourselves.
We have to do better in understanding this and seeing the GAINS in weaning off fossil fuels, disposables, excessive consumerism and governments that wield fear and short-term economic arguments at the potential cost of . . . so much loss.
Recognize the common solutions to socio-environmental problems, and apply your power as a consumer and as a voter.
Care more. Consume less. Vote for future generations.
For better understanding of the plight of the Northern and Southern Residents, see the Recovery Strategy at this link. See Section 4 for Threats. There are many.
The main threats are recognized to be prey availability (in particular, Chinook Salmon), chemical and biological pollutants and physical and acoustic disturbance. These are synergistic i.e. if the whales do not have enough Chinook, the fat-soluble toxins (both historic and emerging) enter their systems impacting immunity and ability to reproduce. If the whales are stressed by acoustic and / or physical disturbance, this can impede their ability to hunt, to fight disease and to carry out other essential life processes like nursing and resting.
For more detail on the National Energy Board decision I reference above, see my previous blog at this link.
Photo: L-Pod in Blackfish Sound in 2009 ©Jackie Hildering. .