It was a fun and educational evening for WA NAMERS at the recent Whale Trail event at West Seattle’s C&P Coffeehouse on December 4, 2018. Celebrating the return of the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) to Puget Sound, The Whale Trail, hosted an evening of presentations dedicated to our favorite, local cetaceans. Led by Whale Trail Founder and Director, Donna Sandstrom, the evening started off with a talk by Marc Sears and his daughter Maya, who have been documenting SRKW activities off of West Seattle for over forty years. They spoke about K-Pod’s recent visit to our waters, discussing how they assess the apparent health of the animals, including how they collect their fecal samples (that’s science folks). But the highlight was a GoPro video of an astounding recent display by K-Pod off of Alki Point, complete with breaches, tail lobs and spy hops. It left the whole crowd speechless.

The final presentation, by Dr. Clement Furlong (U.W. Professor of Genome Sciences), looked at how marine mammals are at particular risk to contamination by organophosphate pesticides because they lack the genes necessary for detoxification. Unfortunately, these pesticides, particularly Chlorpyrifos, are still widely used are certainly making their way into Puget Sound. Dr. Furlong encouraged everyone there to contact their representatives to get these chemicals banned, not just for the orcas’ sake, but for our health as well. For more on Dr. Furlong’s research on the effects of organophosphates, follow this link.

After the event, several of us met a local watering hole for a recap of the evening’s lessons and to discuss future WA NAME events, including WA NAME 2019 next August in Pt. Townsend, WA. If you’d like to get involved in future WA NAME events, including preparation for WA NAME 2019, feel free to contact Woody Moses (wmoses@highline.edu) or Maile Sullivan (mailesul@uw.edu). Hope to see next time!