J-pod. J-35. Tahlequah
Holding her dead calf above water, wishing her child to breathe.
I still think of those seventeen days and thousand miles, of
Tahlequah carrying her child,
Holding her grief visible for the world,
Refusing to let go.
Propping her daughter on her forhead, trying to keep up,
Even as her calf decays,
Refusing to let go.
A thousand long miles and seventeen days,
The day she lets her baby go,
a call echoes in their wake.
The image remains.
I cannot let it go.
FROM THE CENTER FOR WHALE RESEARCH
Date: July 26, 2018
Subject: Newborn Orca dies
We are saddened to report that a baby Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) died a short time after it was born near Victoria, British Columbia on July 24, 2018. The newborn whale was reported alive and swimming with its mother, J35, and other members of J pod near Clover Point on the Victoria shoreline in mid-morning. A Center for Whale Research team was on the water in Haro Strait at the time and immediately responded to photo-document the newborn calf for the long-term census study we maintain for the US and Canadian governments. Unfortunately, by the time the CWR crew arrived on scene, the newborn calf was deceased, and the pod had traveled several miles eastward of the reported sighting location. The baby’s carcass was sinking and being repeatedly retrieved by the mother who was supporting it on her forehead and pushing it in choppy seas toward San Juan Island, USA. The mother continued supporting and pushing the dead baby whale throughout the day until at least sunset. A resident of San Juan Island near Eagle Cove reported: “At sunset, a group of 5-6 females gathered at the mouth of the cove in a close, tight-knit circle, staying at the surface in a harmonious circular motion for nearly 2 hours. As the light dimmed, I was able to watch them continue what seemed to be a ritual or ceremony. They stayed directly centered in the moonbeam, even as it moved.”
Tahlequah’s Daughter: July 24, 2018 – August 11, 2018
A BLEAK REALITY FOR SOUTHERN RESIDENT ORCAS
The toxins build up, grow more concentrated with each generation.
Births continue to decline.
Of those that make it to full term, most are stillborn.
After being shot in the 50s to keep them from eating the salmon, they were hunted and captured in the 60s for entertainment. Once people began to realize that orcas were intelligent, social beings who suffer in confinement, protections were put in place. The orca population slowly began to recover. But the depletion of food supplies and increase in pollution has led to such decline that the southern resident orcas have become an officially endangered population.
Scientists are now referring to the orca as the planet’s canary, the reflection of the ocean’s health.
In a mere handful of generations, human ignorance and indifference has done more harm to the earth than we can begin to fathom. We can’t afford to duck away from that reality, a truth which can indeed be very inconvenient.
Instead, we need to amplify the voices that remind us where to focus…
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realise that we can not eat money.” Chief Seattle