L57 Faith. [M. Grace]

L118 Jade with mother L55 Nugget. [Celia Augereau]

L54 Ino. [Melisa Pinnow]

L53 Lulu, J1 Ruffles, and his mother J2 Granny. [Miles Ritter]

As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t received a proper update since February 2nd, over two months ago. I feel like now’s a good time to announce an indefinite hiatus.

When this blog returns from hiatus, it’ll bring a few improvements, including sighting reports and the long-promised whale bios.

Thank you for understanding. Your questions are still welcome, and will be answered to the best of my ability for all who send them non-anonymously.


Want to help out the Endangered Southern Resident Orca Population?

  • Avoid buying any kind of Atlantic Salmon. It’s best to avoid seafood as a whole, honestly.
  • Use cleaning products that are biodegradable; those harsh chemicals find their way into the ocean food chains and end up in Orcas!
  • Vote for politicians and measures that promote salmon conservation. The southern Resident Orcas are really struggling because salmon is their main food source, and we keep taking it from them!
  •  Make sure your car doesn’t leak fluids that end up in waterways. 
  • Donate to an organization that is working to save wild Orcas! (The Whale Museum is a good choice)
  • Use as little plastic as possible. This benefits not only Orcas, but all marine life. Use stainless steel water bottles, reusable shopping bags, recycle plastics that you do use, etc.
  •  Educate others about the perils wild Orcas face, especially the southern Resident population, and teach them how to combat these dangers!


I have seen a lot of people criticizing Kristi’s words in this video. While that is to be expected because it’s such a controversial topic, and there’s a lot of passionate people on both sides of it, there’s a few things I would like to touch on about what she said.

1. No one currently knows of this study I am about to mention because it is in the works as we speak, and has been since BEFORE Blackfish came out (so no, it’s not being done for good PR), but SWC is working with NOAA to help out the Puget Sound population. Holly Fearnbach, along with another gentleman (I wish I had written down his name and it kills me that I don’t remember it), came to Shamu Stadium and did a presentation for us associate trainers on this study she completed and had published in 2011.

Essentially, the paper talks about using arial images taken of SRKWs to ID whales, and to estimate and get an idea of the size of mid-teen females and late-teen males. The abstract states “We collected aerial photogrammetry data on individual whale size, which will help to better inform energetic calculations of food requirements, and we compared size-at-age data to make inferences about long-term growth trends.” and that they “hypothesize that a long-term reduction in food availability may have reduced early growth rates and subsequent adult size in recent decades”. 

In the discussion portion of the study, the authors mention (I’m paraphrasing here) that they were limited statistically because of the significantly small sample size of adult males available for measuring, as a result of “relatively high adult male mortality in the mid-to-late 1990s (Krahn et al. 2004)”. I’ll explain this in a little more detail below.

That statement is then followed by this one: “This could represent continued somatic growth throughout life, as has been found in northern fur seals Callorhinus ursinus (Trites & Bigg 1996), but we suggest that this may be an indication of nutritional stress in recent decades. Specifically, a long-term reduction in returning stocks of Chinook salmon (Beamish et al. 1995, Ford et al. 2009) may have reduced early growth rates and subsequent adult size in recent decades, alongside the reported decreases in survival (Ford et al. 2009), fecundity (Ward et al. 2009), and social cohesion (Parsons et al. 2009).”

You can read the entire paper that I linked earlier if you would like to have a full understanding of the study. I just mentioned these parts of the study to give a background for the research SWC is helping NOAA with. 

Basically, Holly told us that while they have these arial images to estimate the weight and age of SRKWs, it’s getting harder and harder to estimate how much a whale weighs/how old they are because they are so emaciated due to loss of food resources and their growth is being stunted. This lack of food is an issue that lies on top of another one; the food that they do find has such an abnormally high toxin accumulation in it causing the malnourished whales to become even more sickly. It’s to the point that they can’t tell if a female is pregnant. So how does SWC come into play? Well they have been letting NOAA come in and take arial photos of Kasatka during her entire pregnancy with Makani, along with photos of Makani while he swims in mom’s slipstream. They will continue to take photos of Makani swimming with mom as he grows bigger and bigger to help with identifying how old/big a calf is as well since they are also being effected. What they are looking for in the photos is the girth around a certain area just behind the dorsal fin of pregnant females. Although Kasatka is Icelandic, her size falls perfectly into the average of the endangered SRKWs of Puget Sound so NOAA found her to be a great candidate in assisting with this research.

Holly also mentioned that the lack of adult males (I said earlier I would touch on this below, so here it is), due to nutritional stress in the 1990s, effected males like so: During growth spurts the males obviously need more food to support the growth. This is fine for the first few growth spurts, but eventually they hit one so big that they don’t find enough food to support it and the male dies. Overall, they observed about 2/3 of the population and saw that both young females and males are significantly smaller than they used to be because they don’t have enough food to support their growth. With the help of SWC, they can pile up more proof of overfishing and pollution to push for more regulations and laws to be put in place and help have their winter foraging areas designated and protected as “Critical Habitat.” 

I think that’s some pretty good evidence of how “working with the killer whales in SeaWorld will benefit that wild population”. Again, I understand that there would be no way for anyone to know about the research unless they know someone, so that’s why I’m choosing to talk about it here.

2. It’s extremely trivial and petty to mention her mis-speaking and calling the killer whales pilot whales. She corrected herself hastily because she realized she mis-spoke, not because she was embarrassed or didn’t know what animal she was talking about. This woman has her doctorate in Psychology and teaches two college psychology courses. Not to mention all the guests she speaks in front of on a daily basis. She knows what she’s talking about and it’s perfectly natural to slip out the wrong word every once and a while. Can anyone honestly say they have never had the very same experience of saying the wrong word when they meant another? Does it make them any less educated? I can’t even believe I’m having to defend her for someone making such a stupid comment about it.

Anyways, there you have it. Sorry for such a long post everyone, but I feel that this was an important one to make.

L115 Mystic with mother L47 Marina. [Stefan Jacobs]

L43 Jelly Roll and son L95 Nigel. [source]

L41 Mega. [NetteBini]