Letters to the Editor

Wholeheartedly supports efforts of Orca Relief

Imagine a pack of Harleys chasing after a pack of endangered wolves 12 or more hours a day, every day. That, in essence, is what the whale-watching boats are doing to the Southern residents.

As someone who once served as a National Park Service ranger, it is deeply disturbing to see so many people who claim to want to protect the orcas do something that specifically causes them harm.

A few years ago, I attended a meeting to discuss options for protecting the health of the whales. Since our property is near a feeding area for the whales, I saw them almost daily and also saw regular violations of the "voluntary guidelines" the whale-watching boats claimed to follow.

At the time, the whale-watching industry was fighting the effort to enact legislation that would put teeth into the guidelines. The whale-watch operators were claiming they could self-police. I asked them to name any specific time where they had turned in one of their own. Zero. I asked them why their marketing brochures showed boats literally on top of the whales. No answer. I decided it was pointless to talk to the whale-watching people and instead focused my energy on supporting the effort to get the whales listed as an endangered species.

Shortly before it became clear the listing would happen, the whale-watch operators repositioned themselves as having supported the listing effort all along.

Soundwatch is funded in part by the whale-watch operators, so I don't expect anyone on the Soundwatch payroll to have an objective perspective on whether the whale-watching boats are causing harm.

The Southern residents are at a tipping point. The noise from boats increases stress for the whales, which makes it harder for them to communicate and to feed, which directly impacts their chances for survival. That is reason enough to stop the constant harassment and serial whale chasing.

I support wholeheartedly Mark Anderson and Orca Relief in their fight to protect the Southern residents.

Monica Harrington
San Juan Island

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