Orcas Must Not Be Mistreated Like Lab Animals!

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To: Secretary of State Wilbur Ross; RDML Timothy Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere;  Governor Jay Inslee; Senator Patty Murray; Senator Maria Cantwell; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; DFO Minister Johnathan Wilkinson; Environment Minister Catherine McKenna; Transport Minister Marc Garneau;

There are two more endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs) off the BC/WA Coast who may be dying while there are several others who are pregnant. However, one of the orcas that appeared to be losing weight last September may not have deteriorated in his condition, may have improved and appears to be foraging.

However, The Vancouver Aquarium (VA), Sea World, Sea Doc, NOAA and possibly DFO are planning more high risk experiments on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs). They call it “extreme veterinary interventions” that could include vaccinations. Permits would include “incidental takes” (deaths).

Now with ailing 42 year old J17 and 27 year old K25 they will try to continue failed experiments that they had subjected the dying J50 and her family to! J50 died after she and her family was continuously chased and shot with darts loaded with unpredictable antibiotics. That was more harassment for J Pod who had just mourned with J35 who pushed her dead calf on her head for 17 day drawing international attention.

At Least 10 Reasons to Stop Life Threatening Experiments

1. Subjecting all 75 SRKWs to continuous tests for individual “Medical Records”.

2. Causing fright and stress is harmful to the several pregnant SRKW orcas and the new calf in L pod. That includes the ailing K25’s sister K27 who travel together. Note: In 2016 K25 was shot with a dart tracker similar to one that killed L95.

3. The 2016 NOAA Controversy: The use of unnecessary tracking “tags” led to the infection and death of one orca in L pod. Two other orcas went missing and it was possible that they suffered a similar cause of death. NOAA defended it. Invasive experiments also include skin biopsies. https://www.change.org/p/thesec-doc-gov-stop-barbaric-orca-satellite-tags-and-skin-biopsies

4. Vaccines/antibiotics for any potential use in orcas would be tested in laboratory animals. Developing vaccines would need testing for government approval. The final tests would be on the endangered wild orcas. This entire process can cause unbearable suffering and death!

5. The Research System: Permit approval for invasive, life threatening experiments can be rubber stamped and peer reviewed by researchers. A publish or perish industry!  With no public input!

Permits are issued for the “Taking of Endangered and Threatened Species”. The Endangered Species Act requires that an incidental take permit be obtained for any “take” (harass, hunt, capture or kill) of an endangered or threatened species incidental to the research.

6. Participants include the Sea Worlds and Vancouver Aquarium (VA) that seek funding to use “captives and rescues as untapped resource for research tools” (2007 Report). VA has stated that they would fight to keep non releasable “rescues” that would be sent to aquariums worldwide (they manage one in Spain). There has been funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (funded by Sea World after the public opposition to orca captivity exposed in the Blackfish documentary).

7. High speed chases and shooting that frighten orcas would be conducted. The Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian stated that because the present ailing orcas are adults “heavier medication doses and darts” would be needed. With risks being the dangerous side effects from antibiotics and vaccines.

8. Discussions with Lummi First Nations include advising them “medication” in salmon is needed. They should have learnt the lesson from the dying J50 who never ate any of the lanced salmon. Researchers and First Nations should never have tried to deliver drugs by putting them into salmon that would be eaten by healthy orcas, pinnipeds, birds and others. There are too many risks of unknown, life threatening side effects to the orcas, non targeted species and ecosystems. 

9. Re: J50: The aquarium and government “experts” should have waited for the tests results to try to determine any targeted antibiotic instead of a general one.  BUT should there be antibiotics and/or vaccine experiments? Scarlet’s sickness was never identified! A shot in the dark failure!

10. One of the three major recognized threats to orca survival is the boat traffic and noise. This Research Boat Traffic noise and experiments further interferes with the orcas’ forging and lifestyles. Research Boat Traffic can contribute to the orcas’ poor health and deaths.

Take Action Now! Protect Orcas!

1. Immediately put a moratorium on the harmful, invasive research that includes over 15 years of failed experiments! It has been proven that this research has not prevented the ongoing threats to orcas!

2. Take immediate actions that have immediate benefits by enacting the Emergency Orders under the Species At Risk Act and US laws. Read petition: https://www.change.org/p/join-us-in-asking-johnathan-wilkinson-catherine-mckenna-marc-garneau-and-justine-trudeau-to-save-the-orca-families-from-extinction

3. Canada and US governments should enact a public comment period with full disclosure of all experimental plans. Requests for information by Lifeforce Ocean Friends were not answered.  Endangered orcas must not be studied to death by cumulative experiments that have been part of the problems NOT solutions!

4. Stop these life threatening experiments funded by lucrative aquarium industry grants and our tax money!

For further information: Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Ocean Friends lifeforcesociety@gmail.com