New Orca Calf, New Learning

Photo Credit: New York Times

Photo Credit: New York Times

Photos of a new calf born to endangered resident Orcas has refocused my attention on the local Habitat of northwest Washington. I’m hoping we will learn enough about increasing salmon stocks to feed the newcomer when he or she shifts from mother’s milk to salmon after a year or two.

Shifting from the big picture of global climate change to where the salmon spawn feels like using a camera’s zoom lens to see the details of their watershed Habitats.

Coincidentally, our local marina might help. A recent Island Angler column by Tracy Loescher, described how King and Coho salmon were reared in its holding pens from 1982 to 2001. With the state Department and Fish and Wildlife looking for new ways to save the Orcas, there is talk of reopening the program to support Coho stocks again.

Sounded great to me. I went for a walk and checked that the space for the pens is still there ready and waiting. But . . .

OH Fish Pen.jpg

The main gist of Loescher’s story is that the earlier program was stopped because of fears of hatchery salmon interbreeding with wild salmon. This immediately brought me up against my need for new learning in several areas:

  • Details on which of the five kinds of salmon the resident Orcas eat in each season    

  • Which watersheds the salmon come from

  • How hatcheries work

  • How hatchery salmon interbreed with wild

  • State funding for such programs

I, for one, have a lot to learn before having opinions on how to increase salmon. Even though it would feel good to help raise salmon in my town, I want to know more about what will actually help this new young Orca.

While still keeping an eye on the overall climate change (see Sidebar), I will be digging into the websites of three great organizations working for the endangered Orcas to learn more about the Orca-salmon connection. You, also, might want to visit Wild Orca, Center for Whale Research, or Orca Network.

Or if your Habitat is facing other dangers, start with a dedicated websearch by naming your region and the word Habitat. Enjoy your new learning.

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