A project bringing the lifeworlds
of the resident orca whales
of the Salish Sea to the surface
ARE YOU AN ORCA GUARDIAN?
Orca Soundings: An Art Event for the Last of the Southern Resident Orca
Orca Sounding is an art project using whale sculptures and their human guardians, in a project that reflects the wide spread knowledge of—both traditional and scientific— and love for these whales. Every person involved in the project is linked to an individual whale, and brings their own specific skills and story to the project. The orcas come together in live performances to capture the stories of the whales and people in film, art, song, performance and social media.
“With the population of resident orca now down to 78 individuals, our little human group mirrors the whales in more ways than just numbers and range of ages. Like us, these orca have complex cultures and diverse languages. They care for their families and are led by matriarchs, long after their reproductive years. They have rituals for sharing territory. They sing, share their food, play, court, nurse their babies and, like us, grieve at loss.”
— Briony Penn (Orca Ino L-54)
photo April Bencz
The Salish Sea is reknowned for its natural beauty, wildlife, artists, musicians, craftsmanship and the diversity of cultures and ecosystems. One of the greatest joys for visitors to the Salish Sea is a sighting of a pod of Southern Resident Orca.
As of January 3, 2017 there were only 78 of these whales left. With the recent death of J34 ‘DoubleStuf’and J2 ‘Granny’ declared missing, the toll of deaths for 2016 rose to 7 whales. The J, K and L pods are perched on the brink of extinction. To survive, they need a secure source of salmon, a safe soundscape and unpolluted waters.
Scientists, studying the Southern Residents, report that any project which increases tanker traffic, noise, pollutants can kill whales. Oil spills will be the final straw pushing them into extinction. Raincoast Conservation Foundation launched a judicial review to defend this endangered population, coincidentally on the same day that J34 was found dead—most likely due to injuries by a ship. Since that date, a pod of citizens have been circling together to create an art event that will help raise awareness about the status of the orca.
Since the harpooning of Moby Doll in 1964, the Southern Resident Orca have grabbed the world’s attention. When people witnessed Moby Doll’s rescue by her family members, they first heard their gentle language voiced to the distressed young whale. We now know that whales live in societies of intergenerational family pods that communicate in dialects and are headed by matriarchs that can live as long as humans.
Since those early days, this population has become the most intensively-studied group of marine mammals anywhere in the world, with every individual’s lineage carefully documented. The poignant dialects of the family groups require a quiet sea to transmit and hear. The name of the project, Orca Soundings, resonates with the importance of sound in their lives. Sounding is also the term for a whale’s downward dive —a metaphor for going deep into the topic of their survival.
THE MAKING OF AN ORCA POD
Please enjoy the voices of the orcas from Johnston Straight, Canada. http://www.orca-live.netread more
In the 1960s, Paul Spong was a young neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia. Then, part of his job was to study orcas (or killer whales) at an aquarium. But Spong quickly understood how badly these highly sentient, intelligent creatures suffered in captivity. So he moved to a remote island six hours north of Vancouver and founded OrcaLab—a scientific outpost committed to studying...read more
News coverage is coming fast and furious in the wake of the 78-orca “superpod” gathering in Vancouver. 78+ orcas, accompanied by hundreds of other marchers and supporters, walked from Grandview Park on Commercial Drive along Hastings Street, blocking a lane of traffic and making a splash in the big city. Check out this gallery of images from Tamar Griggs on the big day! Inspired? You...read more
Like the tiny canoe of our logo, bristling with warriors, that confronts a hulking supertanker, the people-powered movement to protect the Salish Sea has the might to make an impact on a global scale. Indigenous defenders of the land, air and water are achieving victory after victory in the courts. Now, First Nations are taking legal action to stop Kinder Morgan and protect orca whales from...read more
Check out these fabulous events as part of the first ever annual Orca Awareness Month: WASHINGTON *Featured Event* Sunday, June 4th – Orca Month Kick-Off and Tribute to Granny J2 2:00 to 5:00 pm Golden Gardens Bathhouse, Seattle RSVP on Facebook – Free – hosted by the Orca Salmon Alliance Throughout June – Naturalists On The Ferries Find naturalists aboard many Washington State Ferries to...read more
Check out “Ripple Effect” at the Salt Spring Gallery, May 18th. The opening runs from 5 – 7pm.read more
A pod of orcas was spotted off the Legislature this Earth Day in Victoria!read more
The Orca Soundings makers, whale guardians and entire superpod spectacle will be out in full force for the Walk 4 the Salish Sea. We will gather at Grandview Park on Sunday, May 28th at 9 am then walk in procession along Hastings Street to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. Planning to walk for any segment of this people’s mobilization for climate, coast and communities threatened...read more
We’re working hard to get ready for an Earth Day Orca Procession on Salt Spring Island! Paul Burke is setting up a table with info re. the status of the killer whales, and he is bringing a few 4 foot whales and dorsal fins so people can sign them out and walk through the crowds. Also, we are going to be playing the sounds of Orcas throughout the day. Then at 4:45 PM, members of the Orca...read more
This article originally appeared in Focus Magazine: http://www.focusonvictoria.ca/marapril-2017/whales-of-the-salish-sea-r10/ IT IS A COLD, WINDY MORNING in the new year at Deception Pass, a spectacular narrow channel between Whidbey Island and the mainland at the US end of the Salish Sea. Around 70 people are gathered to mourn the death of 10 members of the Southern Resident Killer Whales...read more