Thursday, December 22, 2011

It wouldn't be a PNW blog without a post about Orcas!

Huzzah! Another reason to fete the season!  Puget Sound welcomes a new addition to J-Pod.

Figure 1. HEY BABY ORCA! Calves are often born orange,
which is cool.

This orange fellow is the son or daughter (often takes a while to sort that out) of J-16 (AKA Slick).  

I love that I live in a place where every time a new orca calf is spotted, it makes news headlines.  There is no shortage of orcas worldwide, but the population that lives closest to Puget Sound, the Southern Residents (Urban Orcas, I like to imagine they follow the trends and have transitioned from grunge to hipster - Figure 2) have been listed as an endangered species.  They are primarily fish-eaters and have different dialects than the mammal-eating transients that also come through the Salish Sea on occasion.  

Figure 2. You try to put a whale in skinny jeans! It's not what nature intended.

J-pod was always my favorite in my Free Willy years.  J-17 (Princess Angeline) was my adopted orca.  Whoops, busted: I had a Free Willy/Keiko phase.  Whatever, I have no regrets!  It turns out orcas are rad, but not in the way Sea World would like you to believe.  Speaking of which, do not try this at home - just don't.  I shouldn't have to tell you why.

I still really love orcas because they do not care what we think of them, and what images we like to project on them (see again, Figure 2).  They will still kill them a great white shark or some baby sea lions, right in front of us, if it please them.  The Southern Residents are beloved, which is easy because they eat mostly fish.  But most orcas, world-wide, eat things we think are cute and defenseless, and they get depicted in nature shows with some very choice, and very alliterative, language.  But they are incredibly smart!  And that's extremely cool!  Ignore most of the dramatics and graphics in this video, except the reaction in the crowd at the end - and then lets talk about how we felt when the orcas got that baby seal (Oh, Animal Planet, how fast and far ye have fallen).  

In other local orca news:  The latest fashion in Orca research happens right here in my own department: Dogs that hunt for whale scat!


  1. Everything is more beautiful when David Attenborough narrates (and oversees the score?!)

  2. don't ask why i'm listed as the children's festival. i'll never understand google accounts.

  3. "Damn, nature, you scary!"

    But you're exactly right, CFF Seattle (cough cough), Sir David lends so much more dignity and so much less judgment to this nature business - so unlike my own "contributions".