Thursday, July 15, 2010

A fun, educational & family-oriented outdoor event!
The salmon-eating Southern Resident Orcas of the Southern Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands are endangered. Learn what you can do to help them survive at Orca Day 2010.

Limited parking. Please walk, ride, use Car Stops or rideshare. Bring your own chair and water. Thanks for leaving your pets at home.


Friday July 23rd

7:30 - 9:00 pm
DFO’s Dr. Peter Ross
Killer Whales and Me: Lessons learned from the endangered Southern Residents. Anglican Parish Hall. By donation.

Saturday July 24th

1:00 - 1:45 pm

Welcome & Live Music
Live, local music by the Ptarmigan Music Society.
Check out the display tables of
whale-related organizations.

1:50 - 2:15 pm

The Whale Museum

Stories about individual Southern Resident Orcas, plus the museum’s Marine Mammal Stranding program.

2:25 - 2:50 pm

Center for Whale Research

The baby boom and threats to the new calves’ survival, presented by biologists who have studied these whales for 34 years.

3:00 - 3:25 pm

Vancouver Aquarium

The Cetacean Sighting Network and the Ocean Wise Program.

3:40 - 4:10 pm

Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)

Learn about the new Pender Island acoustics study.

4:15 - 4:45 pm

Ask the Experts Q&A

Your last chance to ask the experts questions.

5:00 - 6:00 pm

Picnic in the Park

Bring your own picnic and mingle with the guest experts.

Children's Activities (July 24th)
1:15 - 4:00 pm

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

Discovery table with experts from the Sidney aquarium.

1:50 - 2:15 pm
Parks Canada
Bioaccumulation game with a Gulf Islands National Park Reserve interpreter.

3:00 - 3:25 pm
Orca Games with Judy Felber
Fun whale games and activities with a former park ranger/naturalist.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Announcing Orca Day 2010 - Saturday, July 24

One of the best things about summer on Pender Island is the chance to view Orcas, up close and personal as they swim past the island . . . sometimes within a metre of shoreline viewers. Last July, to celebrate these magnificent animals, Pender Island hosted it’s first-ever Orca Day. For a first-time event, the educational, fun and family-oriented Orca Day 2009 was a resounding success!

We are pleased to be able to confirm that Orca Day 2010 will be held on Saturday, July 24, at Thieves Bay Community Park. In addition, on Friday, July 23, Dr. Peter Ross, Toxicology Specialist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), will give a special presentation on what he has learned from these fascinating mammals at the Anglican Parish Hall at 7:30 pm.

The Saturday program at Thieves Bay is scheduled from 1-5 pm, and will include presentations by The Whale Museum (Friday Harbor, San Juan Island), the Vancouver Aquarium, Center for Whale Research (Friday Harbor, San Juan Island), Paul Cottrell (Marine Mammal Coordinator) and Harald Jurk (Orca Acoustics Specialist) from DFO, and others. In addition to new speakers and exhibitors, this year a covered area will provide a seminar-like setting for those interested in hearing the keynote speakers, as well as offer an escape from the elements. The spectacularly popular children’s program will be back and expanded, as will the live and local entertainment program. There will also be plenty of free time to wander through the exhibits of research, education and conservation organizations who will be set up in the park and who have a tie to the local Orcas.

Saturday’s Thieves Bay events will be followed by a picnic at the park, where many of the guest speakers will participate in a question and answer period, and be available for further conversation. These speakers and presenters are among the most knowledgeable Orca experts in the world.

You will never have a better or more entertaining opportunity to get to know your local whales. Attendance is free. Should anyone attending wish to make a donation towards the cost of staging this free event, containers will be located throughout the park.

Last year’s Orca Day attracted 300 to 400 people. As new details regarding other speakers and topics for Orca Day 2010 become available, they will be posted here.

For further information please call 250-629-6137

Saturday, August 15, 2009

July 18, 2009 - The title of Orca Day was also the events primary goal: Get to Know Your Local Whales.

The strategy to achieve this goal was to host an event that would stimulate new and broader interest in our resident Orca community, interest which might, over time, grow into feelings of affection. We hoped that a “connection” would develop between the adults and children who attended Orca Day and these marine mammals that so badly need their help. We hoped that connections like these would lead to personal lifestyle changes that would improve living conditions for Granny (J2), Ruffles (J1) and the 83 others, in particular breeding age females like Princess Angeline (J17) and her newest calf, J44.

More than 300 people gathered at Thieves Bay Park on Orca Day. They listened intently as expert guest speakers reminded them of the impact that their daily choices have on the lives of these beautiful wild, but dependent, animals. We all learned that eliminating farmed salmon from our diets improves the resident Orcas chances of finding a sustainable food supply. We learned that we must speak out against BC’s expanding fish farm industry (see We learned that agricultural pesticide and herbicide, and pharmaceutical runoff leads to contamination of the resident Orcas habitat and that tidal power projects damage or destroy parts of this habitat. And we learned that naval and government sonar blasts kill whales and dolphins and who knows how many other marine species.

The learning lasted 4½ hours. Shouldn’t school always be outdoors?

As I sit in the park this morning, a month later, I think back to the lessons of Orca Day and feel mixed emotions. I feel sad that we’ve so badly failed our friends and equals that live in the ocean, but this sadness quickly gives way to feelings of optimism . . . optimism that one or two, or maybe two hundred people who attended Orca Day are thinking and acting differently because of this one afternoon in the park.

What did you think of the first Orca Day? Did we achieve our Orca Day goal?

Photos by Jacquie MacDonald
(from top to bottom)

Crowd gathered at Thieves Bay
Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research
Jeff Hogan, Killer Whale Tales
Natalie Bowes, Straitwatch; Kari Koski, Soundwatch

Ask the Experts panel