Killer whales hunting on land? Josh McInnis (scientist) and Justine Buckmaster (naturalist) on their wild discovery that some Salish Sea orcas are hunting seals on the shores of Protection Island and how orcas continue to surprise us.

Skaana shares stories about oceans, eco-ethics and the environment.
Photo credits: Justine Buckmaster

Photo credits: Justine Buckmaster


Josh McInnes is a marine ecologist and masters candidate at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries Marine Mammal Research Unit. Josh grew up on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  For over a decade Josh has studied the ecology and behaviour of transient (Bigg’s) killer whales along the Pacific Coast, but has also traveled to remote locations off British Columbia, Washington State, Alaska, California, Australia, and Antarctica to study marine mammal populations.

Justine Buckmaster is a certified Marine Naturalist currently working at Puget Sound Express. She has been working in the Salish Sea region for over ten years as a guide and educator on whale watching ecotours. Justine works with local marine mammal researchers by providing digital photos and sightings data from her encounters to record proof of presence and unique behaviors of the marine mammal species and populations of the Salish Sea. Justine was raised in southern Washington State near the Columbia River and currently resides in the town of Mukilteo in northern Puget Sound.

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  • 0:00– Intro
  • 4:18– Killer whales hunting on land? Josh McInnis (scientist) and Justine Buckmaster (naturalist) on their wild discovery that some Salish Sea orcas are hunting seals on the shores of Protection Island and how orcas continue to surprise us.
  • 6:52 Discovering Bigg’s orcas who hunt on land.
  • 14:02– “This is something that maybe is brand new to these animals (Josh McInnes)”
  • 14:40– Josh McInnes on meeting rare Gerlache Orcas in Antarctica.
  • 15:01– “It’s kind of surprising that the killer whales are much more maneuverable than the penguins are.”  (Josh McInnes)
  • 19:34– “Seeing transient orcas hunt is always just a awesome” (Justine Buckmaster)
  • 21:30– “I think orcas are basically the epitome of what we are as a species and intelligence or smarter than us.” (Josh McInnes)
  • 27:09  “They’re spectacular animals and I don’t think we’re going to stop learning about them any time soon. (Josh McInnes)”

1966 est Born

December 11, 1969
Captured in Pender Harbor, BC

Sent to Marineland of Pacific

Sent to SeaWorld San Diego

Species: Orcinus orca Breed: Northern Resident
Meaning of name: Irish for “hill hollow”
Captivity History: Captured at around age 4 from A5 pod in Pender Harbor, BC
Mother: Stripe (died in the wild in 2000)
Full Siblings: A21, A29, Okisollo, Ripple, FifeOffspring: Calf (1977) first Orca ever born in captivity but died after 16 days, Spooky (1978), Stillbirth (1980), Kive (1982), Calf (1985), Miscarriage (1986), Miscarriage (1987)
Sex: Female
Weight: 8,335 lbs.
Length: 20 ft.

Corky II has been in captivity longer than any other Orca. She is about the same age as Lolita, both with estimated birth years of 1966. She has had seven offspring with Orky II, none of which lived past 46 days.
Corky II is the largest female Orca in captivity. On August 21, 1989 Kandu V collided with Corky II, which caused Kandu V to fracture her upper jaw and bleed to death.

Corky II became a surrogate mother to Kandu V’s orphaned calf, Orkid after this incident. In 1990, Corky II pushed the mid-section of her trainer and again pushed a trainer in 1994, however, she is known to be a very sweet and gentle Orca.


The latest on the Lummi Nation’s fight to free Lolita (Tokitae), ceremonial feedings of the southern resident orcas, rights, responsibilities and reunification from Kurt Russo of the Lummi Nation Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office. Stories of inspiring actions to save the orcas for Orca Action Month. 

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The Killer Whale Who Changed the World….


  1. Lummi Nation fights for return of relative
  2.  Rembering Lolita, an orca taken nearly 49 years ago and still in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium

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The post Lummi & Orcas – Kurt Russo on Liberating Lolita & Saving the Southern Residents appeared first on MLY.


Dyna Tuytel
“Ecojustice is a national environmental organization, so we have offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa, and our mandate is to use the law to protect and restore the environment, mostly through litigation.  And we try to prioritize cases where we can set a precedent, so one case can have a broader impact beyond the specific facts of that case.” 

“They modelled the effects of decreased salmon prey, they modelled the effects of noise, they modelled the effects of oil spills and potential collisions with ships, individually and together, and the result of this modelling was a conclusion that with the project they have a greater than fifty percent chance of being effectively extinct this century. Which is pretty stark.” 

“Of course the tankers should have been considered, and of course the species at risk act should have been applied because there’s no practical way that the shipping isn’t part of the project.” 

“People will flock to the side of the ferry to see the whales, and get so excited and go on whale watching tours, and clearly love this species, but maybe don’t know how few of them there are, or how much they depend on this specific area that they live in, or just how unique they are.   The fact that they have their own language and culture, and don’t interbreed with other killer whales, and that there are different types of killer whales.   I think that that information really galvanizes people to care about the whales and to take action.” 

“I feel like I’m fighting on my client’s behalf, but that we are all fighting on the Orcas’ behalf.   Everyone is so committed to protecting this amazing species.  I would describe us as a team that is working for the Orcas.” 

“The start of the problem is that when the NEB reviewed the project, they separated out the pipeline and the marine terminal from the ships.  So they’ve defined the project as ending at Westridge marine terminal, and shipping being related to the project, but not part of it.   And so what that approach means, is that under the environmental assessment act, the environmental assessment is only of the pipeline and the marine terminal, and the tankers were considered and reviewed but only under the more general provisions of the National Energy Board Act, where they consider the public interest broadly speaking and weigh the pros and cons.” 

“So by not considering the tankers as part of the project, and not subjecting them to the same environmental assessment, the NEB has said that the species at risk requirements that are triggered by an environmental assessment don’t apply to its review of the tankers.   So there’s a key provision of the Species at Risk Act, that’s triggered by an environmental assessment, that says that when a project is under review you have to ensure that there are measures to avoid or lessen the impacts on endangered species.  So by treating the ships as separate from the environmental assessment and separate from the project, they’ve said that this provision of the species at risk act does not apply in this case.” 

“The whales themselves can not get standing, but my clients can get public interest standing to represent the interests of the whales, and the environment.” 

“I think the risk of oil spills has somehow been downplayed throughout the review process and since. And just the fact that even in the official DFO recovery strategy it says clearly that an oil spill would be potentially catastrophic for this population is something that doesn’t get talked about very much.  And I think there’s also a tendency to downplay the additive effect of this project.  Sort of saying “oh, it will only be such and such percentage of shipping traffic in the area” or something, whereas it’s really important to keep in mind that the threats facing them, everything is already too bad.  We need to stop adding new threats, and we also need to mitigate existing threats.” 







The Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion could wipe out the Southern Resident Orcas. The orca’s unofficial lawyer, Dyna Tuytel from Ecojustice (@ecojustice_ca), is challenging their plans in court.

“I feel like I’m fighting on my client’s behalf, but that we are all fighting on the Orcas’ behalf.”  

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The Killer Whale Who Changed the World…

The NEB and how to contact them

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