On Friday, two orca (male & female) were spotted off the Cairns of Coll on the West coast of Scotland. Here's some footage of the pair:
Apex ocean predator and top of the food chain, studying orca can give us a good indication of how polluted our oceans really are.
"Blowhole samples taken from killer whales [in Puget Sound] have revealed fungi, viruses and bacteria living in their respiratory tracts, some of them antibiotic-resistant and once found only on land."
The Guardian looks at how cities like Seattle will be adopting 'green infrastructure' as a solution:
Some British Columbian orca are facing food shortages - not only does there appear to be less food for the Northern resident orca of the Pacific Northwest, but they are travelling in much smaller groups and communicating less amongst themselves compared to what has typically been observed in previous years. These orca eat Chinook salmon almost exclusively and Chinook numbers are much lower this year than expected.
You may remember this article we posted a while ago about a boater in Washington State (USA) who breached the 200m exclusion zone around the Puget Sound orca.....
He will not be penalised but "next summer violators could be fined thousands of dollars."
Lolita (aka Tokitae) is being held in the Miami Seaquarium (MSQ) in Florida. Despite the fact the tank does not meet minimum size requirements as set out by U.S. law and the fact that it doesn't provide Pacific Northwest Southern resident orca Lolita with any shade from the sun, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided to renew the MSQ's federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licence to keep and display her.
As a result, the Animal Legal Defence Fund, as well as PETA and other private citizens, are suing the USDA's decision to hand out this permit to "the smallest orca tank on the continent" - so small and open that it is in violation of the AWA.
For more information visit: http://www.orcanetwork.org/
So who is Lolita? Where did she come from? Why is it important her living conditions be addressed? Here is a good resource from the Orca Network that will help you learn a little more about this Southern resident orca:
Earlier in the week we posted a link about orca Shouka who was being held in isolation at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in San Francisco. This was in violation of U.S. law. Just last night she was moved from Six Flags to be transferred to SeaWorld in San Diego. Here's a short video that was captured at 12:45am (Pacific Time Zone):
Orca Culture and Learning
The New Scientist takes a look at culture in orca and how they learn by copying each other:
"You don't need to travel overseas to encounter orcas". Rob Lott of the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society introduces adult male orca 'John Coe' and the rest of the resident West Coast Community of Britain and Ireland (not to be confused with the Pacific Northwest residents).
Six orca chasing five white-beaked dolphins off the north coast of Scotland at Duncansby Head. "...it all went quiet and six orca fins...all rose together in the same place which made us think they had caught one of the dolphins."
When spending time out on the water with orca, it is important to respect their space - you are entering their environment. It is also important to research and follow laws and guidelines which govern how close you are able to get and how you should control your vessel around them - these are different in each country.
In Washington State, USA, there is a 200 metre exclusion zone for endangered Southern resident orca of the Pacific Northwest. In other words, you must not get closer than this distance. A boater in Washington State may face a fine for entering the exclusion zone around a group of orca near Orcas Island on Wednesday. Getting too close to these animals can disturb their natural behaviour, interfere with their communication and cause them stress.