Friday, August 13, 2010

Painting Whales + A Short Orca History Lesson

I am going to re-do my room, and make it themed with Orca. As you may know, I am passionate about the Southern Resident Orca whales in the Salish Sea off of Washington's coast. They are very dear to me and I know about their genealogy, markings, families, histories, and so on. To study them is my desired career. I am 15 now and I have purple walls and a butterfly themed bed spread...not very mature, is it? I'm going to miss my purple walls (they're purple! what more could a girl want?) however it's time for a change. I have decided to paint some of the Southern Resident Orca on my walls, and some related bird species (if you don't know I'm also an avid birder). It will be a Pacific Northwest themed room, complete with a light blue bed spread! I am choosing the colours and bird species right now, but something I just can NOT decide on are which whales to paint!! I have narrowed it down to a few of my favourite whales, and I would like you all to help me choose who to paint on my walls!

We have...

The J22's
~Oreo J22
~DoubleStuf 234
~Cookie J38
~Rhapsody J32

Oreo is the mother of two sons, DoubleStuf J34 and Cookie J38. In 1998, Oreo lost her sister Ewok J20. Born in 1998 was Oreo's firstborn son J34, and also Ewok's daughter J32. Oreo, struggling with her own first born calf, took her niece in and raised two calves! (All while dealing with the loss of her sister). One year later in 1999, Oreo's brother Everett J18 was found washed up on a beach. The next year Oreo suffered yet another loss with the death of her mother J10 Tahoma. In the span of three years, Oreo had lost all her immediate family, given birth to her first son, become an aunt, and adopted a daughter. What a strong young whale! In 2003, Oreo's youngest son Cookie J38 was born, completing the little family. This group is very tight knit.

Oreo's story struck me when I first read it. How could any young mother be so strong, and in between giving birth and losing a sister, still have the heart to take in a newborn calf? J22 is an inspiring Orca that has a wonderful family. I would honour her greatly by painting her and her family on my walls.

Below is a photo of the J22's. From left to right: J34 DoubleStuf, J32 Rhapsody, J38 Cookie, J22 Oreo

Ruffles and Granny
~Ruffles J1
~Granny J2

To anyone who knows Orca, the names Ruffles and Granny will instantly ring a bell. They are the elder members of the SRKW community, with a large following of fans and admirers. Granny, who is now in her estimated 100th year, (:party:)is a strong senior citizen and is believed to be the matriarch of the Community (J, K, and L pods). She often leads the way, her companion Ruffles always by her side. Thought to be mother and son, the pair are inseparable. Ruffles J2 is also nicknamed "the Stud" as he is a prominent factor in the gene pool for this group of Orca. During a superpod, in the midst of all those black and white beauties, Ruffles gets his game on and does what any male has to do to keep the population going.

(A fun fact about Ruffles: During the captures of the late 1960's, Ruffles and fellow males Ahab and Ishmael were captured! Ruffles was deemed too large at the time for captivity, but Ahab and Ishmael were sent away to serve the Navy in diving duty, searching for explosives and the like. To think, the great Ruffles might have been a captive whale! Please think of him and his wild cousins before you visit a marine park like Sea World, where there are captured whales living in the small tanks. )

Ruffles and Granny are the icons of the Southern Residents, and a symbol to many as the "classic" whales. No tribute to the SRKWs would be complete without J1 and J2!

Granny J2

Ruffles J1

Faith, Lummi, Luna, Taku
~Faith L57
~Lummi K7
~Luna L98
~Taku K1

Though from different pods, these four whales are some of the most inspiring, iconic, and beloved whales ever to pass through the Salish Sea. They are all deceased (Faith and Lummi in 2008, Luna in 2006, Taku in 1998) although we still remember them dearly. Most will know of Luna L98, the young male born to L67 Splash. He is famous for separating from his pod and living amongst humans, interacting with them (and a few dogs!). He was loved by many and was certainly a very special individual. His story is being re-made (from the previous documentary 'Saving Luna') into a silver screen film, titled, The Whale. Check it Out! Taku K1 was the first photo-ID'd souther resident, and at the time of his capture two notches were cut into his dorsal. He was released and years later, the notches remained. This showed that Orca could be studied by their individual markings and shapes-- founding the basis for the photoidentification Orca Survey! Serving as an icon to the scientific community researching the SRKWs, he became much loved. When the whale watching industry began, Taku was there! His mother K7 Lummi was the oldest Southern Resident, although she died in 2008 at the ripe age of 98! Lummi, being so old, was also admired by lovers of the whales. A wonderful ceremony was held in her honour at Lime Kiln state park. Faith L57, who died the same year, was a 37 year old male from L Pod who was often seen travelling with Canuck L7 and Lulu L53. They became a close group, always together. With his distinct tall, leaning dorsal fin, Faith was easily recognized. We continue to Keep the Faith even though he disappeared late 2008.

You can see my tribute to Faith L57 HERE.

Just like Ruffles and Granny, these four whales are true ICONS of the Southern Resident Orca community, and they are all locally revered. Faith was one of my favourites, and I miss him very much. I would very much like to include him somehow in my painting. Lummi and Taku are reminders of the beginnings of the Orca Survey and historical members of the community. Luna, oh, well, it's LUNA for the spirits' sake! Luna is famous around the world for being 'the orca who loved people'. If you would like to learn more about Luna, go to: Reunite Luna and Luna's Story.

Cappuccino K21

Cappuccino K21 is a 24 year old male in K pod. He has a sister Raggedy K40 who he is always side by side with. Their mother Kiska K18 died in 2003, and their siblings Pachena K17 and K46 are also deceased, making them the last in their family group.

Cappuccino was my first adopted whale! He is special to me in that he was the one I chose to adopt when I first learned about the Southern Residents. On my whale watching trip of 2009, I saw him and it was very exciting. I just have to include dear "Cappy" in my art somewhere!

So, there you have it. The 11 whales I wish to immortalize on my walls. I know this is a huge undertaking, especially because I have no experience painting, but I have been wanting to do this for a while. Why not, since my mom is willing to fund a room makeover?

This is my plan so far:

I would have the J22's on my main wall, and they would be the largest in the room. I could have the recognizable fins of K1 Taku and L57 Faith on the horizon, with the smaller fins of Lummi and Luna in the background of a dock/pier scene on the smaller wall by my door. (In the foreground on the pier would be a few Gulls) Ruffles and Granny could be on my window's wall, along with a soaring Bald Eagle. the wall with my bulletin board would feature a Raven and other various birds, also Cappuccino in the distance.

Do you like this plan? Please voice all comments or suggestions here! And did you enjoy my little lesson on the Orca? :) Tell me so in a comment, please!


~Adopt an Orca, learn more about the whales, or donate!~

~Learn the official alphanumerical designations of the Orcas, their family lines, general Orca facts, and more.~

~Connecting Whales and People in the Pacific Northwest. An organization well worth checking out!~

~Learn about all the Orcas who have lived or died since 1998!~

Monday, August 9, 2010

Missing Whales...

I will catch you all up on my adventures soon! Until then please read some news I have learned about the Orcas...

...I just found out from the Whale Museum's and CWR's website that Georgia (K11), Flash (L73), and Saanich (L74) are listed as MISSING ...Georgia was estimated to be born in 1933, making her 77 this year (mid-aged, Females live to be
in their late 90's) ...Flash and Saanich were born in 1986, making them 26 this year (a young whale; Males live into their late 50's). Georgia lost her mother (Lummi K7) two years ago in 2008, at at the time her mother was the oldest living Southern to have another loss of such a well aged female in the same matriline would be a very sad thing...and Flash and Saanich are both lively young males, just about breeding age, so they are valuable members of the community. I do hope they are not gone...this seems reminiscent of the disappearance of Faith L57 in late 2008/early 2009; he was a br
eeding age male in his mid-30's, a very healthy age for a male. If we lost Flash and Saanich it would be very sad and a hard loss for the community. Plus, Georgia is the second oldest female in the community, to loose her would be terrible. Her pod and matriline need her! Orcas stay with their mothers and families their whole lives, and Georgia has 1 daughter (Skagit K13). Georgia is a grandma AND a great-grandma! (Her grandchildren are -Spock (K-20), Scoter (K-25), Deadhead (K-27), and Cali (K-34), and her gr
eat-grandchild is Comet K38) Of course Flash travels with his mom L5 Tanya, but Saanich's mom L3 is gone. Here is a twist: Flash and Saanich are cousins! So for them both to be of the same family group and to disappear together, it is quite mysterious. Saanich has lost all his siblings and his mom, I do hope he is still alive to carry on his family bloodline. Flash has a great group he travels with (including Saanich and Tanya), and he is growing well. PLEASE BE OK, WHALES!! WE ARE HOPING FOR YOUR RETURN.

~Peace Always,