Monday, September 6, 2010

Orcas - A Separate Nation

Animals are not (our) brethren and are not underlings. They are separate nations, caught with us in the net of life and time.  -- Henry Beston, The Outermost House

I cannot help but agree strongly with Beston whenever I observe orcas, the highly intelligent, sophisticated and social neighbors who live alongside us in the marine waters of Puget Sound and Whidbey Island.

The 90-some individual orcas that make up the Southern Resident Population belong to a tight-knit extended family that has resided mostly in our local waters since the glaciers retreated some 10,000 years ago. They remain together for life and eat a separate diet (salmon) from the Transient orca groups that periodically visit here to hunt seals and other mammals.

The Southern Residents communicate in their own unique dialogue. The particular photo accompanying this post happens to be of Transients passing through our area.  It is one I took last week.

Like almost anyone who has seen orcas, I am awed and humbled by them. 

For the wonderful Harry Beston quote I should thank my friend Sarah Schmidt, with whom I coauthored Getting to the Water's Edge in 2006 for WSU Extension - Island County.  

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