Don’t sit idly by as orcas go extinct | Letter

For the past two weeks, I have been awestruck as Tahlequah carried her deceased baby for over 1,000 miles and 17 days. My emotions ran from deep sadness for the plight of these whales to anger at our exploitative society and our destructive ways. We march forward to the tune of an economic drum that pays no heed to anything in its path. A dollar earned today regardless of the cost for tomorrow.

Tahlequah knows nothing of money, but she knows that her pod is in danger of extinction and that the Salish Sea and the dynamic web of life it supports is collapsing. She knows that her pod is growing sick from the toxins. She knows that Chinook salmon, her pod’s main food source, is getting scarcer. She knows that her pod gets no rest from the constant noise and harassment by whale watchers. She knows that her calf’s fate is not just hers and her pod’s, but all of the Salish Sea’s. Tired, hungry and full of sorrow she started her tour of grief only to stop as her calf began to decompose.

Tahlequah has spoken. Will we listen?

The time has come for San Juan County to declare the west side of San Juan Island, from Mitchell Bay to Cattle Point and extending three-fourths of a mile from shore, as a Whale Protection Zone. This is an extension of the one-fourth mile voluntary “No Go Zone” established by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which does not provide adequate protection. The area is Tahlequah’s main feeding ground. Like most of us, they need a place away from all the noise. A place to feed unharassed.

From the jet ski ban in 1995 to GMO-Free, San Juan County is a leader. Now is not the time to wait for others, but the time to act. I encourage you to contact our county commissioners and let them know that you support the immediate creation of a Whale Protection Zone.

Do we want to be the generation that sat idly by as the Southern resident pod of became extinct?

Ken Akopiantz

Lopez