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Rare White Orca spotted in the Puget Sound

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

I spent almost a decade living in West Seattle and for a few years, lived close enough to the water to enjoy western views of the Puget Sound on neighborhood walks. I keep feeling called by the cool waters of the Sound but have refrained from traveling to the waterfront parks to the west as I stay closer to my new home in Wallingford. Today I learned that there was a rare 'white' killer whale spotted in the Puget Sound. He is nicknamed Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word meaning bright moon. Tl’uk’s family is rarely seen in local waters. Usually the family is seen north of the San Juan Islands. But beginning in April, the whales made their first documented trip down to Admiralty Inlet, then the family was seen in the deep south of Puget Sound. These killer whales are transient, but reminded me of our resident Orca whales who are often found starving or with bellies full of plastic and other garbage. Many of our human made dams block the flow of the salmon they need to survive. 'Transient orca populations are healthy. Because of the federal ban on marine mammal hunting since 1972, transients are feasting on seals and other plentiful marine mammals, including Pacific white-sided dolphins and even gray whale calves. Unlike the transient orcas, southern resident orca whales, the salmon-eating whales that frequent Puget Sound, are fighting extinction. Southern resident orcas face a combination of threats, including pollution, boat and ship noise and disturbance that makes it harder for them to hunt, and lack of chinook salmon, their preferred prey.' (Lynda V Mapes- Seattle Times environment reporter) Our resident Orcas are beautiful and graceful and their plight reminds me of an important message Gaia is sending us during this pandemic. I noticed my personal anxiety levels rise when I moved from West Seattle to Wallingford. The busy city energy, the view and constant noise of the neighboring highway bridge, the pollution in the air and in lake union, active with boats and seaplanes, along with the bright lights of the city just made my sensitive soul feel uncomfortable. There has been a considerable shift in energy over the past month. I can hear more birds over the traffic and the air quality in the city feels closer to the fresh breezes over the Sound I grew accustomed to in West Seattle. Many of the city buildings are vacant as most are working from home. The stream of cars moving across the highway bridge has greatly reduced. I encourage you to notice and appreciate any shifts you may notice in your neighborhood environment and take them to heart. The more of us that remain aware of how our choices impact the earth, the better. I am fearful that many will return to their old patterns as soon as they are able and that polution levels will immediately rise. This could be a time of great awakening and an opportunity to make better and more sustainable choices for ourselves and for mother earth. I hope that individuals, families, organizations and corporations will all learn valuable lessons during this time of reduced activity and will choose to restructure in ways that will improve the health of the planet along with the physical and mental health of the humans and animals who inhabit it. 'Earth Day' is approaching this Wednesday the 22nd. Perhaps we can begin to celebrate the earth with our choices every single day of the year. Lokāḥ Samastāḥ Sukhino Bhavantu May all beings, everywhere, be happy and free! with love and care, Sarah

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