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Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Excited humans crowd the railings of a Washington State ferry to point and shout to each other about what they see in the water. Dark, smooth, wet, and glistening, the rounded shapes of orcas, sometimes called killer whales, curve up from the water’s surface, their blade-like dorsal fins erect as they forge ahead. 
photo by Howard Garrett
 These elegant creatures, if they chose to do so, could leap in graceful arcs and twist their white undersides toward the sun, let out their haunting high-pitched cries, or dive below. But at the moment, they travel, showing just enough of themselves to mark their passage through the Salish Sea, the combined waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia. In this delicate ecosystem— increasingly endangered by the effects of human activity—they forage for salmon and communicate with each other in distinct dialects we cannot understand.
If your curiosity about orcas goes beyond snapping a digital photo, you might want to connect with like-minded people at an exciting workshop happening this coming weekend. “Ways of Whales,” will be presented on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 by Orca Network, a 502 (c) (3) non-profit that, according to their mission statement, is”… dedicated to raising awareness about the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitat.” Fortunately, a growing number of people do care. This popular workshop, now in its tenth year, is the perfect place to begin or expand your knowledge of our region’s whales.
Photo by Howard Garrett

Howard Garrett and Susan Berta co-founded Orca Network and devote themselves to this cause. Garrett, the board chairman, is also the photographer who provided the beautiful images in this post. When I contacted them to learn more, he and Berta eagerly shared photos and information for the benefit of readers of Good Life Northwest and hope many of you will attend.
“The ‘Ways of WhalesWorkshop’ is intended to offer a chance for people interested in whales, from any vantage point, to hear directly from whale researchers and experts about their findings and experiences,” Garrett said. “It’s a chance to ask questions and hear personal insights from a variety of areas of expertise, and it’s a chance to meet lots of other people who share our interest and passion to learn more about whales, especially the orcas that live among us.”

And they do live right among us. I've even seen orcas while dining at Anthony's restaurant at Point Defiance in Tacoma.

Orcas swim in Elliot Bay, close to downtown Seattle    photo by Howard Garrett

Here are the details:

Coupeville Middle School Performing Arts Center
501 So. Main, Coupeville, Whidbey Island, WA 98239

Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
$30/person ($25 for students and seniors) $10 Lunch (optional)

For more information and to register, following this link:

Workshop topics for 2013 include:
• Dr. Peter Ross - Toxins and other threats to Southern Resident orcas
• Film maker John Gussman - Elwha River dam removal& restoratio
• Steve Mashuda, Earthjustice Attorney - Petition to de-list So. Residents
• Presentation on Emma Foster‘s Paper - Menopause in Killer Whales
• Researcher Mark Malleson - Transient Orcas and Humpback Whales
• Environmental education displays
Garrett added, “Much of what we do as Orca Network depends on active reporting by people all over the Salish Sea, and this gathering is a way to connect and give back to them.

See my previous blog post, "Video of Orcas Swimming in Puget Sound"
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