This past summer the world watched as the small 4-year-old southern resident killer whale, J50, lost weight and, despite medical efforts to help, died (see below for links to media coverage). Scarlet, named for the rake marks or scars seen on her body shortly after birth, quickly captured the hearts of southern resident watchers thanks to her breaches and extreme surface activities.
The Center for Whale Research recognized how thin she was in the spring and numerous phone calls and meetings led to the first ever attempt to provide medical intervention for a free-ranging southern resident killer whale. Many people asked, "Why now?" Was it a media ploy on the heels of the tragedy of J35 (Tahlequah) carrying her dead calf for 17 days? While the timing could make you think so, it was not.
It’s amazing what you can get done if you have the right tools.
About a year ago, we made the decision to bring a manned submersible to the San Juan Islands for a week of seafloor research. We put out a call for proposals and ultimately decided on three great projects studying deep-dwelling red urchins, sand lance habitat and the effects of seafloor trawling.
In most cases, scientific results arrive slowly after data is processed and analyzed, but when a tool is offered up that grants a new perspective for observation, exciting discoveries can arrive quickly. We saw that during our week with the OceanGate submersible, with team after team brimming with excitement after popping out of the sub after several hours of deep sea immersion.
For the past decade, SeaDoc has hosted veterinary interns each summer to help run the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in collaboration with The Whale Museum. This summer’s interns were Alexa Dickson and Tamsen Polley, who have since returned to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for their third year. They did a great job and we loved having them around, so we took a moment to ask about their experience on Orcas before they dive headlong into their next year of vet school.
Last month, we announced the winners of the Salish Sea in Focus photo contest. The first-place winner in the under-18 category, Faith Halko, replied that same day informing us that she would be donating half of her prize money to the SeaDoc Society.
I found it both heartwarming and inspiring, so I shared her note with the office and we got collectively excited about the endless potential of the next generation. We couldn't help but want to know more about Faith, so we reached out and asked her about the winning photo, Caspian Tern Catch, and how she got into photography in the first place…
By Joe Gaydos. For more than a week, a female Southern Resident Killer Whale has been carrying her dead calf around the Salish Sea.
J35, the 20-year-old orca also known as Tahlequah, gave birth on July 24th, but the baby girl died just a short time later. Since then, people around the world have watched as this young mother has appeared to grieve.
Primates, including Gelada baboons, Japanese macaques, chimpanzees and mountain gorillas have been shown to carry around dead babies even though, as one researcher commented, it "is a waste of energy and seems to be of no benefit to the mother."
What do red urchins, Pacific sand lance and scientific trawling of the seafloor all have in common?
All three exist at depths that can’t be easily observed by scientists -- that is unless you bring in some fancy tools. Enter SeaDoc and our friends at OceanGate Foundation, with whom we’ve partnered to bring a submarine (a manned submersible called Cyclops 1) to the San Juan Islands this September. We funded three unique research projects, none of which would be possible without this incredible piece of machinery to carry our teams.