Who you may ask are we talking about? Orcas, otherwise known as Killer Whales. We saw them at SeaWorld and other similar places. We positioned ourselves so our kids could get splashed by the tidal wave their huge bodies created when they leapt from the water. We took them for granted until we saw Free Willie. Now, time is up. Unless we act, they will be gone, all gone, in a blink of an eye.
Here’s an example. Where once there were thousands, the Canadian Pacific waters off British Columbia, now harbor 75. That’s not 7500 nor 750. That’s 75, all of this pod of majestic beasts remain. Last week, a fishing boat came apart in those waters. As it went down, so did thousands of gallons of fuel oil. If the pod, especially the youngsters, had swum through that oil at some point sooner or later, they would die. In a G-d must love them moment,” the pod had turned to start it’s journey elsewhere.
Yet how many have been sliced to die at the propellers of cargo ships and tourist ships that don’t look, don’t slow down, and/or don’t give a damn? I can tell you the answer to that question but not to the one for the future. A digression…
I am and always have been politically aware. My academic field was political science. I’ve worked at the Executive Aide to the Mayor of Stamford, Ct and spent over four decades in the non-profit governmental field. This election has my full focus, and not just in my state. Yet somewhere along the way, I came to realize that if we don’t take care of the planet and its inhabitants, including ourselves, it won’t matter much who wins what office where. The winners will either slow the slide to oblivion or hasten it unless of course we push up the window and yell, “I’m sick and tired and won’t take it anymore!”
I’ve also realized how interconnected everything is. By allowing the cruise industry to make us believe they care about the environment while they willfully pollute the oceans can not be seen in isolation. The trash plays a part in warming the oceans which play a part in rising sea levels that play a part in both changing weather patterns and island nations. Cities like Miami Beach, Fl. and Venice Italy, and countries like The Netherlands are spending billions to protect themselves. Think of that when you and 4,000 of your nearest and dearest friends are sailing the seas. As California is moving on the ban of combustion engines in cars, we need to change the propulsion of these monster cities a float on the seas. In my angier moments, I roll up the window and shout, “Bring back ships with sales!”
Orcas can’t do too much to replace themselves. Women, take note. They are pregnant for 17 months. They bear one child every several years. Again, mothers take note. The young adult females act as nanny’s helping the mother rear her baby. Because of over-fishing, pollution, climate change, and what they eat and feed their babies, the Canadian Pacific Orcas are also facing a starvation crisis. While they are at the top of the predator ranks in the ocean, it is well to note that they belong to the same family as ocean dolphins. Like Dolphins they are social, smart, loquacious, with individualized communication patterns. True, while the average Dophins’ weight is in the mid-hundreds of pounds, and the Orca weighs in at nearly six tons and is about the size of a city bus, it is a Dolphin none-the less. (Thanks to the National Geographic for their work on this issue.)
In a future missive we’ll talk about salmon. Suffice it to know two things. The management of chinook salmon breeding has been a failure. The drop in numbers is catastrophic. It means along with the other threats, Orcas are starving to death because there aren’t enough salmom to eat. A nail in the coffin is the push to build the two massive project, One is the Robert Banks T2 shipping terminal and the other the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Studies show that large ships coming within 1,200 feet of orcas can dramatically disrupt their feeding habits. They become disoriented and cannot use echolocation to hunt for food — some giving up feeding entirely — resulting in severe malnourishment and stress. Building the Roberts Bank shipping terminal would increase vessel traffic and ship noise in these orcas’ critical habitat. The increased ship traffic resulting from these disastrous megaprojects would further disrupt the migration patterns of endangered Chinook salmon in these regions — the main food source for these orcas. The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion would also carry additional threats to these orca families. It would add 590,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest toxic tar sands oil while increasing oil tanker traffic from one tanker a week to more than one per day! This activity would significantly increase the risk of a catastrophic oil spill — one that could render these endangered orcas extinct, gone forever.
On top of this, an oil spill would wreak havoc on nearby coastal communities. Mass die-offs of fish would mean that people would be unable to make a living or sustain themselves from fishing. The oil residue would contaminate water sources, fumes could cause medical problems, and the impacts would last for decades.
The odds are not in orcas’ favor. .. But the shipping and oil industries want to disrupt this for their own profit without a second thought to the consequences. Big Oil and the shipping industry are looking to add fuel to the fire, disrupting and threatening the existence of these orcas with their proposed projects. Just as we rely on orcas for the health of our ecosystems, they are relying on us to fight for them at a time when there is potential for hope.
Don’t take my word for it. The above is from the research of Friends of the Earth, a world famous activist group.
So, we come to the end of it, maybe literally. I end with an appeal. Pick an animal. Pick an issue. Go on line, find the organizations that speak for your concerns, sign their petitions, and yes donate something. And yes it can be a few bucks–or more.
WIthout us, there will be no them.
Bill has shared with you and others that he is beginning to worry that Chicken Little may be right. There are so many things wrong. Are there enough of us to right them? He doesn’t know. He’s banking on Confusious and asking you to do so as well. There is no gain unless that first step is taken. THink about it while you’re having a safe, happy, healthy holiday.