After more than a decade of waiting, the Southern Residents are no better off now than when they were listed as endangered 15 years ago. Federal fisheries managers appear unwilling to address the availability of Chinook salmon, an essential food for whales, lest they rile interests in the sports and commercial fishing sectors.
Janet loves the orcas. At least that's what Enbridge would've had us believe in their now aborted Northern Gateway ads that featured the company's Vice President Janet Holder touting how safe oil tankers are for British Columbia's killer whales. Unfortunately, Janet must not remember what happened to killer whales 24 years ago after the Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef, or she wouldn't be willing to potentially subject animals she allegedly adores to miserable deaths like those suffered by Alaska's whales.
Moby Doll was the first-ever orca whale to be kept in captivity, courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium. A whaler was hired to kill an orca for use as a model to build a fiberglass replica for a new public display. The orca was harpooned but she didn't die. So the aquarium directed the whaler to tow her -- by the line attached to the harpoon still stuck in that poor animal -- for 80 nautical miles through rough seas to Vancouver docks. There she was placed in a makeshift sea pen until she starved to death a couple of months later.
There is plenty that scientists have learned, and will continue to learn by using non-invasive research methods. If we get the same amount of information, if not more by such methods that do not endanger the health or lives of these killer whales, then it is our ethical obligation to abandon "tagging" and embrace alternative research strategies.