If you love whales so much that Valentine’s Day makes you feel like studying orca mating behavior, maybe you should head for Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands on Thursday.
The popular Whale Museum reopens on Valentine’s Day after a six-week closure for renovation and installation of new exhibits.
One new exhibit features the skeleton of Sooke (L-112), the 3-year old Southern Resident orca found washed ashore at Long Beach in February 2012. Cause of her death was diagnosed as blunt trauma — collision with a ship, maybe? — though the exact cause is still under investigation.
To whale lovers in the San Juans, this loss of an otherwise healthy orca was literally like a death in the family. Chat with staffers at the museum and they sound like your great aunt, the family genealogist, as they recite relationships among the 85 whales that remain in the endangered population that spends much of its time around the islands.
The new exhibit is designed to help inspire visitors to become more active stewards of the surviving whales. While there, ask about volunteer opportunities that can pair with an island vacation.
And it’s not too late to go online to arrange a Valentine for your favorite whale-hugger: Adopt an orca. For $35 for a year, the Whale Museum will send a personalized adoption certificate for your chosen whale, with its personal biography, annually updated matrilineal genealogy charts of the Southern Resident orca community, monthly e-mailed updates and more.