Journal of the San Juan Islands


A timely tribute, a life unfulfilled | Editorial

February 14, 2013 · Updated 5:22 PM

Thanks and congratulations are due the Whale Museum and its dedicated staff members and volunteers for bringing Sooke home.

Sooke, who brought great joy to orca lovers when she was born in 2009, and then great sadness when her lifeless corpse was found near Long Beach on Feb. 11, 2012, has bequeathed her body to science, her bones to the Whale Museum and her memory to the “stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem.”

The new exhibit of her skeletal remains being unveiled Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Whale Museum, honors her life and legacy, and L-112 will doubtless continue for many years to keep hope alive that her family will live long, healthy, productive lives for many generations.

Though she most certainly died before her time, and seemingly in some traumatic fashion, Sooke’s contributions to science continue.

Genetic and forensic analysis is ongoing at several laboratories to unravel the threads of her brief life and puzzling death. Perhaps the scientists can someday tell us how Sooke died, revealing the mechanisms by which she was bruised and battered — and instructing us how to protect Sooke’s relatives and other marine mammals from Sooke’s fate. Then again, perhaps we will never really know, for certain, the cause.

Still, thousands of school children and an equal number of adults will visit the exhibit in which Sooke’s bones have been exquisitely reassembled in coming years; some will doubtless be inspired to learn more about our marine mammal cousins, their environment, the pressures and perils that the Southern residents face, and to work to protect them.

The Whale Museum has performed its function wonderfully this past year. Good job, everyone.


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