Orca Network News - October, 2011

News, updates and events about
the Southern Resident orcas,
orcas worldwide, and their habitats
October 1, 2011 through October 31, 2011.

A shadow falls on salmon
October 30, 2011 (Oregonian)
Facing pollution, predators, dams, drought, climate change and relentless fishing, the last thing Pacific salmon need is yet another threat to their very existence.
But another mortal threat seems to have arrived. Researchers from Simon Fraser University recently revealed that two of 48 salmon smolts tested from the Rivers Inlet in Northern British Columbia carried infectious salmon anemia, also known as ISA. It's the first time the virus, which has wiped out millions of salmon on fish farms, has been documented on the Pacific Coast.

Experts examining killer whales' salmon diet
October 30, 2011 (CTV)
Huge chinook salmon are the most prized catch on the Pacific coast for fishermen on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, but they may soon have to share the bounty if a scientific panel links chinook and the survival of endangered southern resident killer whales.
The independent, cross-border panel has recently completed the first of three workshops looking at studies connecting the abundance of chinook and the well-being of the rare killer whales.
There's great interest from sport, commercial and First Nations fishermen in the recommendations because of the implications on the lucrative fishery, said panel member Andrew Trites.
"Everybody is watching this very closely," said Trites, director of Marine Mammal Research at the University of B.C. Fisheries Centre.
The panel has about three dozen studies and reports to analyze before a decision is made at the end of 2012.

Big Coal meets Cherry Point's tiny herring
October 28, 2011 (Crosscut)
WDFW figures there were 15,000 tons of Cherry Point herring in 1973. Last year, there were 774 tons. Regulators shut down all harvesting of herring and their eggs in 1996, but the fish kept disappearing.
Cherry Point herring have an engaging political history. They have managed to be in the wrong place when industries want to develop the shoreline and tidelands. Presently they seem fated to mix it up with the biggest ships in the world, as SSA Marine’s Gateway Pacific Terminal moves toward approval.
The Seattle-based builder and operator of seaports would create the West Coast’s largest coal shipping port at Cherry Point, a dozen miles northwest of Bellingham, on the Strait of Georgia. The GPT would eventually ship 48 million metric tons of Wyoming and Montana coal to Asia every year, most of it to China. One customer — Peabody Coal — has contracted with SSA to ship 24 million tons per year, a partnership announced a day or two after SSA filed for state and federal approvals to build the project.

PETA lawsuit alleges SeaWorld enslaves killer whales
October 26, 2011 (CNN)
Can killer whales sue SeaWorld for enslavement?
A lawsuit filed Wednesday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other "next friends" of five SeaWorld killer whales takes that novel legal approach.
The 20-page complaint asks the U.S. District Court in Southern California to declare that the five whales -- Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises -- are being held in slavery or involuntary servitude in violation of the 13th Amendment.
A PETA statement said the lawsuit is the first of its kind in contending that constitutional protections against slavery are not limited to humans.

Plan for huge fish farm in Strait roils the waters
October 20, 2011 (Seattle Times)
Now an Oregon company, Pacific Seafood, wants to grow 10 million pounds a year of steelhead and Atlantic salmon in cages in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That would nearly double the farmed fish grown in saltwater in Washington.
The project is in its infancy — company executives haven't filed for permits and expect to visit regulators next month to learn how they should proceed — but Pacific Aquaculture has circulated a 16-page outline of its plans.
It would lease 180 acres just offshore, between the Lyre and Twin rivers 20 miles west of Port Angeles, where, Bielka said, heavy flushing would dilute fish waste. It would arrange two rows of 12 circular net pens, each 130 feet in diameter.
One set would be stocked with 145,000 steelhead fingerlings per cage. The other set would be stocked with about 85,000 Atlantic salmon smolt per pen. All told, the company hopes to produce 4.5 million pounds of salmon and 6 million pounds of steelhead a year.

Last of river-swimming Alaska whales found dead
October 16, 2011 (Seattle Times)
A young killer whale that wandered far up an Alaska river with two adult companions has been found dead near the river's mouth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Sunday.
Discovery of the dead juvenile means that all three of the whales discovered swimming in fresh water in southwestern Alaska's Nushagak River have died.
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