Luna/L98/Tsuux-iit

September 19, 1999 - March 10, 2006
  • Sept. 19, 1999: Luna, or L98 is born to L67, "Splash," her first calf. L98 was first seen, only a few hours old, by the Center for Whale Research, when he was observed following along behind L67 who was traveling alone at the time. L67 is the daughter of L2, "Grace" (Luna's Grandmother), and had three brothers, L78, "Gaia"; L88, "Wavewalker"; and L39, "Orcan." L39 died in 2001, the same year Luna disappeared.
  • January 19-26, 1999: L98 is seen swimming with K pod, then he goes back to swimming beside L67. L98 was seen traveling in the calf position with K18, a female estimated to be 51 years old at the time. During this period L67 was constantly very close to K18. A few weeks earlier, an open saddle female from K-pod was seen traveling with a dead newborn. The identity of this K-pod female was not confirmed. Researchers wondered who L98's real mother was.
  • September 26, 1999: L98 is seen nursing from L67. L67's family, L pod, was traveling with K pod that day. During that encounter four K pod members, K18, K21, K40 and K16, are seen traveling with him and his mother.
  • September 27, 1999: K18 was still traveling with L98's group. At one point, L98 is seen traveling alone with K18. Later on, he is seen back with L67, both traveling with a group of whales. During this sighting L98 was lifted and pushed around by the whales.
  • September 28th and 29th, 1999: L98 is seen again with a mixed group of J, K and L pod members. Both K18 and L67 were in these groups.
  • The rest of 1999 and all of 2000: L98 and L67 travel together, without K18's presence.
  • January 29, 2000: 45 members of L and K pods are identified by the Center for Whale Research from photographs taken in Monterey Bay, CA (L67 and L98 were not among the whales identified, though may have been with them), documenting the furthest travel south of Southern Residents. Members of the Southern Residents were again seen off Monterey in March 2003.
  • September, 2000: L98 is given his adoptive name, "Luna," in a contest held to help name new orca calves by The Whale Museum's Orca Adoption Program. A Seattle newspaper ran the contest region wide. A young woman from Bellingham suggested Luna because "the Orca Whale explores the ocean, like the moon explores the earth." At the time, no one knew Luna would turn out to be a boy.
  • September 23, 2000: L98 is possibly sexed as a male when the distinct male markings on his belly are revealed while he was inverted at the surface.
  • March, 2001: Residents of Nootka Sound report sightings of a lone killer whale in Nootka Sound. This is not unusual as transients are often in the area.
  • Summer, 2001: L98/Luna is declared missing and presumed dead in the Center for Whale Research annual survey.
  • July, 2001: An unidentified, lone orca calf is seen repeatedly in Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island BC and reported to DFO.
  • August, 2001: L98 is given his traditional native name by the Macquinna family. The name Tsuux-iit was given by Chief Mike Macquinna in honor of his late father and chief, Ambrose Macquinna.
  • Fall, 2001: The lone calf in Nootka Sound identified as L98, but is not announced publicly. DFO scientists consult with a small group of US and Canadian whale researchers.
  • January 8-14, 2002: An unidentified orca calf is reported in Puget Sound - reports come from the Swinomish Channel, Edmonds, and finally near Vashon Island, where the calf is photographed, recorded and eventually identified as A73, or "Springer."
  • January 30, 2002: Canada's DFO makes public announcement of L98's existence in Nootka Sound.
  • March-May, 2002: Plans are implemented by NOAA Fisheries and The Whale Museum's Soundwatch Boater Education Program to conduct public outreach and on-the-water boater education and monitoring of Springer in the waters near Vashon Island, WA. Public meetings are held by Seattle Aquarium, People for Puget Sound and others, helping the government make the decision by stressing the public's desire to reunite Springer; NOAA convenes Science Panel to help with Springer planning.
  • May 24, 2002: NOAA Fisheries makes the decision to intervene and relocate Springer/A73 back to Canada.
  • June, 2002: Orphaned Orca Fund is established to assist Springer's relocation and raise matching funds.
  • June 13, 2002: Springer/A73 is captured and placed in a net pen at Manchester, WA for medical evaluation and treatment.
  • July 13, 2002: Springer/A73 takes a ride on the "Catalina" catamaran back to Johnstone Strait, where she is placed in a net pen off Hanson Island.
  • July 14, 2002: In the early morning hours, Springer and her family make vocal contact, and Springer is released in the afternoon. She swims behind her pod for several days, then catches up and travels with them throughout the rest of the summer. She approaches a few boats during her first week or two, but is taught by other whales to stay away.
  • July-September, 2002: Reports come from Nootka Sound of Luna beginning to interact with boaters. The Vein's of Life Watershed Society's Marine Mammal Monitoring Program, The Whale Museum's Soundwatch Boater Education Program and Straitwatch of Johnstone Strait team up to develop the Luna Stewardship Project (LSP) working on-the-water to educate residents and visitors about Luna and try to prevent human and boat interactions.
  • September, 2002: Luna moves to the docks at Gold River for the first time, posing more human interaction opportunities. Over the winter and spring LSP worked with community members to maintain a stewardship presence at the docks to help discourage people from interacting with Luna and monitor his condition. LSP creates stewardship brochures, posters, presentations, books and videos all aimed at helping Luna's precarious situation.
  • October 2002: L67 gave birth to her second calf, L101, so Luna now has a brother.
  • September, 2002: Luna moves to the docks at Gold River for the first time, posing more human interaction opportunities. Over the winter and spring LSP worked with community members to maintain a stewardship presence at the docks to help discourage people from interacting with Luna and monitor his condition. LSP creates stewardship brochures, posters, presentations, books and videos all aimed at helping Luna's precarious situation.
  • May 20, 2003: A Gold River woman pleads guilty to touching Luna, an infraction under Section 7 of the federal Fisheries Act's marine mammal regulations. She was fined $100 in provincial court.
  • June, 2003: LSP starts on-the-water stewardship activities again, working with Mowachat-Muchlaht students at the Gold River boat Launch, through October. Over the summer Luna's interactions with boaters, kayakers and airplanes increased.
  • July 9, 2003: Springer returns with her pod, after spending the winter in northern waters. She has not been reported to be exhibiting any special interest in boats or humans.
  • Summer, 2003: Luna Stewardship Fund by US and Canadian NGO's is established to help relocation costs. Reunite Luna Web site (www.reuniteluna.com) established to help public keep up with Luna.
  • August, 2003: Luna sustains two large gashes on each side of his head, thought to be caused by hitting his head up against boat propellers parked at a local campground/marina. LSP maintains a presence in Gold River until Spring of 2004 when plans were made by DFO to relocate Luna the following spring.
  • September 24, 2003: The Scientific Panel convened to finalize an approach to reintroduce Luna to L pod.
  • August 28, 2003: Citing concerns that if L98 were moved and failed to connect with his pod, he might be faced with spending the winter in a less desirable location than his current one, both in terms of food availability and increased human interference, DFO postpones plans to relocate Luna until al least spring of 2004.
  • October 1, 2003: DFO confirms position on plans to move forward with relocating Luna.
  • October 13, 2003: DFO deadline for applications for scientific licence to relocate Luna from individuals, groups and organizations
  • October 26, 2003: Senator Maria Cantwell, NOAA Fisheries, US Navy, and WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife announce partnership to help Luna, pledging $100,000 US to helping relocate Luna.
  • October 31, 2003: DFO announces $135,000 CDN to the effort, but states their intention to wait until spring to move Luna.
  • March-May 2004: Researcher Lisa Larsson, David Howitt and OrcaLab start the Luna Research Project with the approval of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation and with a Scientific Licence from the DFO, collecting behavioral and acoustic data to record Luna's "normal" daily life, i.e. outside the busy summer boating season. Larsson observes L98 from a land-based research station on a cliff near Gold River.
  • June, 2004: Mike Parfit and Suzanne Chisolm arrive in Gold River to observe and write about Luna's capture and relocation.
  • June 10, 2004: DFO approves the physical relocation of Luna by truck to Pedder Bay near Victoria. The plan includes attaching a tracking transmitter by inserting a steel pin through Luna's dorsal fin, which could cause serious infections. Tying a rope around Luna's tail to force him into the net pen is listed as a last resort in the rescue plan. Documents indicate that Luna might end up in an aquarium if he fails to take up with his family.
  • June 16, 2004: As authorities prepare to capture Luna, members of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation — believing they are protecting the whale — lead him 20 miles away by singing and pounding their canoe paddles to lure the orca away.
  • June 17, 2004: For a second day, Luna eludes the Canadian captors who are trying to reunite him with his Puget Sound family.
  • June 22, 2004: Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans repeatedly lead Luna with motorboats into underwater net pens. But each time, the 4-year-old orca slips out before the net was closed. It appeared that Luna thought the exercise was a game. He would even push the lead boat into the pen and then escape.
  • June 24, 2004: Canadian government officials call off attempts to capture Luna.
  • July 1, 2004: Luna breaks the rudder off a sailboat in Mooyah Bay.
  • July 7, 2004: Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation proposes a stewardship plan for Luna.
  • August 27, 2004: Days after Luna damages three boats during separate encounters off Vancouver Island's west coast, Canadian fisheries says DFO will issue a formal "stewardship plan" that spells out ways to ease contact between the public and the wayward orca.
  • September 2, 2004: A coalition of groups propose that preparations be made to lead Luna out to sea whenever L pod visits the area.
  • November 6, 2004: Gold River resident Keith Bell asks the RCMP to lay charges of attempted murder against Luna and DFO after three run-ins between Bell's sailboat and the whale. The RCMP declined to press charges.
  • 2004-2005: Tsux'iit Guardians, First Nations stewardship program is started to study and protect Luna.
  • 2005 and 2006: LunaLive, a scientific research project dedicated to the study of Luna, includes a number of independent researchers in partnership with NGOs and the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nations, who share a desire to see Luna remain safe, free from captivity, and ultimately, reunited and swimming with his family. The LunaLive researchers, located all around the globe, listen 24/7 to the sounds of Luna's underwater territory in order to study Luna's vocal behavior.
  • August 11, 2005: Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisolm propose a drastically different approach: Luna needs a human "foster" family - deliberate, sustained interactions to satisfy his need for companionship while keeping him away from dangerous situations. When his family is close by, he would be easily led out to meet them. Toni Frohoff and Cathy Kinsman propose a set of stimulating activities without human intervention to keep Luna occupied. Other groups disagree with these approaches, and DFO has no response. Interactions with Luna remain illegal, though they take place daily.
  • March 10, 2006 - Luna is killed by a tugboat propeller.
Information compiled by Orca Network with notes by Kari Koski and Astrid van Ginniken.

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