Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Orca Pod is Touring the Seattle Area Off Alki Point

A small pod of Orcas, possibly members of the L-Pod, were spotted off Seattle's Alki Point yesterday.

I do not think there is a sight on the Puget Sound more amazing than seeing an Orca pod.

It seems appalling now, the fact that years ago, in the 1960s, that Orcas, then more commonly known as Killer Whales, were being hunted and trapped in Puget Sound, primarily due to the efforts of a guy named Ted Griffin.

Griffin bought a 22 foot long male Orca that was caught in a floating salmon net near Namu, British Columbia. Hence the name of the most famous Orca ever. Namu.

Namu was brought to Seattle where he quickly become a popular attraction of the Seattle Aquarium, living in his floating pen in Elliott Bay. Ted Griffin soon captured another Orca, a female, named her Shamu and shacked her up with Namu.

Namu and Shamu did not get along. Namu survived just a little of a year in Killer Whale Prison, found dead in his cell on July 9, 1966.

Shamu continued in captivity, eventually being sold to Sea World in San Diego. I believe eventually, Shamu, or another Orca bearing that famous name, was sold to the landlocked Sea World in San Antonio, Texas.

In quickly growing numbers, residents of Washington wanted an end to the inhumane treatment of their fellow mammals. Soon the state legislature put a stop to Ted Griffin's Orca Operations.

I have seen an Orca Pod pass through Deception Pass.That was an impressive thing to see.

But, my most impressive Orca Pod encounter occurred out in the San Juan Islands, off Lopez Island. I was fishing for salmon with my mom and dad. Suddenly we were surrounded by an Orca Pod, including two babies. A couple of the Orcas got very close to the boat, looking right at us, as if to say "hello." The Orcas acted very playful, sort of like Dolphins. And then just as suddenly as they'd shown up, they were gone.

This Orca Incident pre-dated digital cameras. And I had no old-fashioned camera with me. But, from that day forth I vowed, as best I could remember, to never be without a camera again.

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