Orca whale J35, also known as Tahlequah, gave birth in July 2018 in the waters off British Columbia. Her calf died soon after leading her to carry the baby for 17 days across 1000 miles before finally releasing the calf and rejoining her pod. This extraordinary and caring behavior sparked not only worldwide sympathy but also a revival of our awareness of the critical need to preserve orcas, the chinook salmon they feed on, and their habitat that together make up the core of the Pacific Northwest identity.
In Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home, journalist Lynda V. Mapes explores the natural history of the orca and the unique challenges for survival of the Southern Resident group that frequents Puget Sound. These whales are among the most urban in the world and a focus of researchers, tourists, and politicians alike. Once referred to as blackfish and still known as killer whales, orcas were for generations regarded as fishing competition and vermin to be avoided or exterminated. Later, they were captured live for aquariums all over the world in heartbreaking scenes resulting in multiple orca deaths and mourning pod members.
With greater exposure, scientists now realize how intelligent this mammal is and are learning about their matriarchal family groups, vocalizations, behavior, and different subspecies. Today, only 74 Southern Resident whales are left, and they are threatened by habitat degradation, lack of chinook salmon (their primary food source), relentless urban growth, and climate change. Can we reverse the trend?
This special project, co-published with the Pulitzer Prize winning Seattle Times newspaper, features stunning imagery by Times photographer Steve Ringman, as well as from partner organizations, including The Whale Museum, NOAA, and Center for Whale Research.
- Written by Lynda Mapes.
- Published by Mountaineers Books, June 1, 2021.
- 0.79" H x 9.13" L x 10.39" W (2.16 lbs) 192 pages