For two decades, people have gathered at Lime Kiln to listen to music, take in a sunset and look for orcas as they swim by as part of the annual Orca Sing.
“It’s a chance for those who have been active for the whales, to take a deep breath together,” Jenny Atkinson, director of The Whale Museum said.
This year’s Orca Sing occured on June 22, and it featured music from the Seattle City Cantabile Choir, led by Fred West, and performances by musicians and activists from the Vashon Hydrophone Project Orca Annie and Odin. The free event was sponsored by Lime Kiln Point State Park, Friends of Lime Kiln Society, City Cantabile Choir, Friends of the San Juans, Orca Network, Vashon Hydrophone Project, Orca Action Month and The Whale Museum.
The choir sang a range of classics, kicking off with The Beatles “With a Little Help from my Friends.’
“This is a big anniversary year,” Atkinson said noting that Friends of the San Juans and The Whale Museum are both turning 40, and the Lime Kiln Lighthouse turns 100.
“Despite celebrating, there is still work to be done. The two new calves need love, support, and a lot of fish,” Atkinson continued.
Friends of the San Juans Executive Director Stephanie Buffum explained that Orca Sing is an opportunity to share the love for the Southern resident orcas — a species that is starving due to depleted salmon runs and are facing extinction. Climate change, increased marine vessel traffic and other toxic stressors on the Salish Sea ecosystem necessitate the best and swiftest actions humans can take, she said. Buffum detailed each project increasing traffic, posing a dire threat to the endangered orcas should a spill occur. (See page 7 for more details.)
Performer Orca Annie noted that three whales are currently severely emaciated, according to drone photographs taken by researchers, and that while the government has been taking action, it has been tepid at best.
“There is so much to do, and individuals can jump on board to make positive change,” Atkinson said.
To learn what citizens can do to help the endangered Southern residents orcas, visit the Whale Museum, at whalemuseum.org. For more information about the Center for Whale Research, visit www.whaleresearch.com/. To learn more about Wild Orca, go to www.wildorca.org/.