Final Day of Public Comment: Keep the Southern Resident Orcas Listed as Endangered
Today is the final day you can provide comment about why you
think NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) should keep the
Southern resident orcas listed as an Endangered Species - and you can read why
it is important to the Orca Network below: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0241-0001
Via Orca Network:
Our comments on the petition to delist So. Resident orcas (in just 1495 characters):
So. Resident orcas need all the protection and all the scientific understanding
possible at a time when they are teetering at only 84 individuals and so many
environmental hazards are impacting them. The core argument of the
petitioners seems to be that So. Resident orcas aren't special and it wouldn't
matter if they disappeared.
Granted that the evolutionary development of large-brained mammals that have, over millions of years, formed into a wide variety of completely distinct cultural communities using symbols to mediate cooperative behavior that is prescribed by ancient traditions, is difficult for the uninformed to understand. Rendell and Whitehead (2001) explain that: “The complex and stable vocal and behavioural cultures of sympatric groups of killer whales (Orcinus orca) appear to have no parallel outside humans, and represent an independent evolution of cultural faculties.”
This is why the So. Residents are a distinct population segment. There is no dispersal from and no recruitment into the community. There is no interbreeding between the So. Residents and any other orcas. Their repertoire of vocalizations is completely
unlike that of any other community, even the behaviorally similar No. Resident
orcas. We have before us an animal that would be best described as nomadic
foraging tribes with extremely rigorous cultural rules governing all aspects of
behavior, including diet and food-sharing, mating, vocalizations, associations,
how to rest and how to celebrate, and no doubt an array of interactions and
rituals that science currently has no way to recognize, much less document.
In short, if we lose the So. Resident orcas we would lose a totally unique
cultural community that has followed its own distinct pattern of development
over many millenia. Science is only beginning to grasp the outlines of the
SRKWs, which could inform our own cultural development and help us avoid some of
the geophysical environmental disasters that we ourselves are causing.
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