Luna should return home

Sunday, August 10, 2003

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD

Bring Luna home.

As Canadian authorities study what to do with the lone orca, returning him to Washington waters appears to be the best course of action.

It’s a decision that rests partially in Canada with federal officials and, to an extent rarely mentioned, tribal nations on the coast. But Americans should have a voice, too.

The lost 4-year-old is from Puget Sound, where orcas number just over 80. We need every orca possible here.

Luna apparently became separated from his pod while swimming past Vancouver Island. Since 2001, he has been alone in Nootka Sound on the island’s West Coast.

As a Post-Intelligencer news story reported Thursday, a lot of people look at the killer whale and see loneliness. Probably for good reason: Orcas are extremely social and maintain close family relationships.

Luna has become comfortable with human contact and, more distressing, with boats. That creates dangers for him from propeller blades. It’s also dangerous for people on boats because Luna’s a big, strong guy. Canadian fisheries officials take the dangers seriously.

They also worry that a return to Puget Sound might cause more risky encounters with busier boat traffic. If things got bad enough, they say, he might have to be placed in an aquarium — a terrible option.

Those concerns likely can be addressed. Operators of whale-watching boats have promised not only to avoid Luna but also to help assure recreational boaters wouldn’t illegally harass the orca.

Last year’s successful return of another orca, Springer, from Puget Sound to Canada argues strongly that Luna could be reunited with his family. Fred Felleman of the Orca Conservancy said Luna is healthy and has a living mother, advantages Springer didn’t enjoy.

The Orca Conservancy raised much of the approximately $250,000 for returning Springer. Felleman says donors already are volunteering to help again, and costs would likely be much less this time.

National Marine Fisheries Service officials have taken a low-key attitude, but this could be an opportunity for cross-border cooperation.

If it is indeed best for Luna to come home, maybe he can teach humans a few lessons along the way.

~ by fredfelleman on August 10, 2003.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: