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November 1, 2013 at 6:56 AM
To get rid of a stinking, 8-ton whale on an Oregon beach in 1970, an engineer gained national fame when he blew up the huge critter with a half-ton of dynamite. George Thomas Thornton has died at 84. (The Seattle Times)
Speaking of whales, on Tuesday, a rather large pod of orcas circled a state ferry that was carrying tribal artifacts bound for a new museum at the ancestral home of Chief Seattle, almost as if escorting them. (The Associated Press)
A knife fight involving four people in Rainier Valley last night left all four of them injured, some with life-threatening wounds. This story will be updated this morning. (The Seattle Times)
A memorial for former House Speaker Tom Foley is scheduled this morning at St. Aloysius Church near Gonzaga University, his alma mater, in Spokane. Foley died last month at 84. (The Seattle Times)
The president of WSU canceled classes yesterday to showcase the campus of the state’s second-largest university on national television. The Cougs took a drubbing. Bud Withers: Cougars lose 55-21 to Arizona State. (The Seattle Times)
Weather this weekend: Rain, showers and more showers. The National Weather Service
Most-read stories on seattletimes.com:
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- Puget Sound orcas circle ferry carrying artifacts
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Nick Provenza: 206-464-2142 or email@example.com
January 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM
The Associated Press
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service says a dead newborn orca calf found on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula last week belongs to a population of endangered killer whales.
The agency said Tuesday that scientists are trying to determine what killed the 7 ½-foot-long male calf. He was found on a Dungeness Spit beach.
An initial DNA analysis showed the calf was a member of the southern resident killer whales that spend summer months in Puget Sound.
NOAA spokesman Brian Gorman says the death is not unusual and that mortality rates among killer whales tends to be high.
January 9, 2013 at 9:24 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIJGW1HYxsAYouTube user TheKayuk posted this video of the ice-trapped killer whales in Hudson Bay.
About a dozen killer whales have been ice-trapped in Hudson Bay since earlier this week, and no one is sure whether they can be saved.
Several videos of the whales gasping for air in the small space where they’re trapped have been posted by villagers of Inukjuak, Quebec. After the videos went viral on the Internet, an international public outcry to help rescue the orcas began.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has said it is aware of the situation and is working closely with resources in nearby Nunavik to decide what to do next.
Icebreakers that could help open an escape path for the whales are “out of reach” Inukjuak Mayor Petah Inukpuk told the Toronto Star after speaking with Fisheries and Oceans officials.
“That is the only solution for any chance of survival for those killer whales, but there is none nearby at the moment,” he told the newspaper.
The only U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker heavy-duty enough to break through Arctic seas now and into Hudson Bay is the Seattle-based Polar Star, which came out of a four-year, $56 million refurbishment just last month. The Coast Guard has not said what kind of assistance, if any, it might contribute to a rescue.
Some are still holding out for a miracle like the one pulled off in an international effort in 1988 to save three gray whales trapped by ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. The rescue effort was written about by Tom Rose in “Freeing the Whales,” which was then adapted into a movie starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski released last year, Big Miracle.
A Wisconsin-based de-icer equipment company instrumental in that 1988 effort, Kasco Marine, is also trying to rally support for a rescue of the killer whales trapped in Hudson Bay.
“We are doing our best to provide all of the assistance we can in the rescue effort by continuing to look for transportation to the remote area of Inukjuak where there is very limited airplane accessibility,” the company posted on its Facebook page.
The company encourages anyone who may be able to help the cause to e-mail them at KascoMarineBigMiracle@gmail.com.
November 26, 2012 at 10:54 AM
The Associated Press
The federal government is reviewing whether Puget Sound orcas should keep its endangered status.
NOAA Fisheries said Monday the review was prompted by a petition from the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation seeking to delist the killer whales. The petition asserts that orcas aren’t in danger of becoming extinct because they’re part of a larger population of thriving whales.
NOAA listed southern resident killer whales as endangered in 2005. The orcas frequent Washington’s Puget Sound. They also spend time in the open ocean. There are currently 86.
The agency has a year to decide whether it should delist the orcas. It says accepting the petition does not suggest a proposal to delist will follow.
The petition was filed in August on behalf of two California farms and the Center for Environmental Science Accuracy and Reliability.
October 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM
The Associated Press
More than a dozen killer whales swimming past West Seattle gave residents a spectacular sight Monday as the sun set.
Howard Garrett of the Orca Network says six identified from photos represent all three Puget Sound pods — J, K and L. He says this is the farthest south the orcas have been seen this year, and it may indicate a typical fall shift.
The orcas spent May-September around the San Juan Islands, apparently feeding off Fraser River Chinook. Garrett says this time of year they follow chum salmon south into Puget Sound.
The Greenbank-based Orca Network received hundreds of photos from Monday’s sightings.
The southern resident orcas are listed as an endangered species, and the Center for Whale Research estimates a population of 85 in three pods.
August 7, 2012 at 1:30 PM
The birth of a baby to a young mother can sometimes cause consternation among human animals, but not so when it’s in our local pods of orcas.
The report on Monday of a new calf born to the J Pod, one of the area’s “most stable and successful” families, is being hailed far and wide, according to Howard Garrett, director and co-founder of Orca Network.
A picture of the baby, wedged between its mother and grandmother, was posted on the Network’s Facebook page last night and had already garnered nearly 800 “likes” and hundreds of comments in 12 hours.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” said Garrett. “We’re celebrating.”
Research into the endangered Orcinus orca species shows that the mammals are highly intelligent and live in complex and ancient cultures based on descent through the female line, Garrett said. Male and female offspring typically stay with their mothers their entire lives, he said.
Even during adolescence, the mothers seem to “just enjoy their children all the time. They don’t worry about house cleaning.”
The new calf, J49, is believed to have been born on Monday, Garrett said, and the first picture of him or her was taken by Capt. James Maya in the south end of the Georgia Strait, off of British Columbia.
The baby, who will be given another name at about 1 year old, is the first offspring of 11-year-old J37, who is named Hy’Shqa, and the grandchild of Samish, or J14. J14 has four living offspring. Her mother, J12 is deceased, but her grandmother, the baby’s great-great grandmother, J2, is over 100 years old and still swimming with the pod, he said.
Garrett said that while female orcas are biologically able to reproduce when they are 7 years old, they often don’t until they are about 14.
According to Garrett, the father of J37′s baby is probably from one of the other pods and the pairing would have been approved by her family, he said.
“The prevailing theory is that the mother or grandmother provides the matchmaking,” Garrett said.
For more information about orcas or the new baby, see the network’s Facebook page.
May 31, 2012 at 8:54 AM
The Associated Press
BREMERTON — Killer whales have returned to Puget Sound waters with a new baby.
All three pods – J, K and L – were spotted Tuesday in the San Juan Islands. Howard Garret of Orca network says it was the first time since October they had been seen together.
The whale watchers were excited to see the baby orca, which has been designated L-119 by the Center for Whale Research.
The Kitsap Sun reports it’s the second known offspring for the mother, L-77, a 25-year-old named Matia. Her first baby two years ago only survived a few months.
Counting the new calf, the population of the endangered southern resident orcas is 88 – 26 in J pod, 20 in K pod and 42 in L pod.
February 13, 2012 at 4:33 PM
LONG BEACH, Pacific County – Biologists say a dead killer whale that washed up near Long Beach over the weekend was a juvenile endangered Puget Sound orca.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and Center for Whale Research identified the whale as L112, a female orca born in 2009. She was part of the L pod, one of three pods of southern resident killer whales that frequent Puget Sound.
Jessie Huggins with Cascadia Research says the orca had significant trauma around the head, chest and side, but the cause of these injuries is still unknown. She says the trauma didn’t look like a typical ship strike but additional tests could provide insight on how the animal died.
She adds that biologists are aware of recent sonar activity in the area and that sonar activity may be one of many factors.
Scientists with Cascadia Research, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Portland State University and others conducted the necropsy Sunday. Results were released Monday.
A newborn offshore killer whale found in November died of a congenital defect.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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