orca behaivour

Alexandra Morton on wild salmon, sick salmon & the Sea Shepherd

Alexandra Morton (@alex4salmon) is one of Canada’s most famous eco-activists. The best-selling author’s fight to save the west coast’s wild salmon attracted the attention of the Sea Shepherd Society and  launched Operation Virus Hunter - a mission to publicize Morton’s research into open sea salmon farms. Tune in if you care about oceans, orcas, salmon or sushi.

“I’m determined not to let these salmon go down on my watch.”

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Show Notes:

  • Court battles and diseased fish [5:00]
  • Illegal spooning [5:53]
  • The impacts of sea lice [6:45]
  • The lawsuit and a cleansing ceremony [8:18, 8:27]
  • First Nations versus fish farms  [8:40]
  • Seeking justice with Eco-Justice [9:57]
  • The battle for testing diseased salmon [13:20]
  • How the  disease impacts the fish[15:08]
  • Wild salmon losing the strength to swim [15:53]
  • Trying to stay in the “wonder phase” of biology and her reluctant shift into  activism [17:26]
  • Farmed salmon vs. wild salmon [22:39]
  • Those in government are up against something that the rest of us can’t see [23:01]
  • We could ask the fish what they need by testing their immune systems [26:53]
  • Keystone species [28:20]
  • Salmon impact oxygen levels [28:42]
  • Making political and ecological decisions by looking at systems working together rather than individual parts to exploit [34:10]
  • The first time she saw a whale [35:38]
  • Childhood interest in non-human communication [36:07]
  • Falling in love with whales by filming a birth in captivity [37:02]
  • Identifying orcas with Michael Biggs  [39:25]
  • Studying orca language [41:50]
  • Studying dolphin language with John Lilly [42:20]
  • Memories of Corky [45:30]
  • Saved by the orcas [47:40]
  • Whale babies unable to feed in captivity [53:00]
  • Call associated with synchrony [54:26]
  • Orca audio [55:55]
  • Siwiti - her bestselling book that teaches kids about orcas[59:50]
  • Jane Goodall opened the door [101:20]
  • How you can make waves [102:04]
  • And much more....

Significant quotes:

“87% of the young salmon leaving parts of this coast… are heavily infected with sea lice.” [6:50]

“They [First Nations] do not want salmon farms in their territory. They’ve been saying “no” for thirty years and yet one third of the salmon farming industry in British Columbia is in their territory. And all the waste from these farms is pouring out whether it’s viruses, bacteria, drugs, fish waste.” [7:56]\

“I have to wonder, does he really know that he’s fighting me so that Marine Harvest and Surmac, whose owned by Mitsubishi, can put diseased Atlantic Salmon into the major migration routes of this coast? I just can’t believe that he actually know that this is going on. Just on the surface it looks really bad.” [14:25]

“I was so convinced that if I lined up my words in the right order, remained calm, and gave them [DFO] all the evidence they would say, ‘oh, oh, oh, oh, there’s a better way to do this. Let’s get them off the migration route, let’s put less farms here…’ But no, they never listened to me. That began to concern me.” [19:56]

“We all had such high hopes, and honestly this Minister is doing worse than Stephen Harper. I mean, we had the worst sockeye return ever in the history of studying sockeye. The DFO did not even blink. They don’t care. They don’t want wild fish. That is my assessment after years, decades of being on this.” [25:30]

“Canada could become this remarkable leader in land-based aquaculture, which the markets want, and restoring wild fish using genomic profiling. I tell you, every country would come knocking on our door and saying, ‘How did you do that Canada?’” [27:55]

“Keystone species means that if that species is removed, things start to collapse. It means it’s the key to the lock that opens the door to the whole ecosystem. Some people say to me, ‘ I don’t eat salmon, so I don’t really care.” Well, do you breathe? Because salmon are feeding the trees that make the oxygen that we breathe.” [28:20]

“You can actually measure the size of the salmon run by looking at the growth rings of the trees.” [29:03]

“They also feed over 1000 species from bugs, to orca, to eagles and bears, coastal communities. They are essential to First Nations culture and diet.” [29:30]

“The gains financially, emotionally, spiritually and in every way are so much greater for wild salmon than farmed salmon” [30:21]

“From the moment the salmon egg leaves the mother’s body, it’s feeding the world around them. There’s not a lot of species that are designed to feed the masses. They can feed all of us and thrive. They are so remarkable and they’re such a gift. They’re so important. They are a bloodstream. I don’t say that lightly. They go out into the open ocean and they are gathering the energy of the sun hitting the ocean. Because the sun hits the ocean and it creates this good plankton bloom which feed little fish, and then the salmon eat those fish. Then they bring that all back home and they defy gravity and they take it up the watershed and they feed the trees. Somehow we have lost that memory, that connection, that understanding. Sometimes the government feels to me like a berserk person on a lawnmower and he’s running over all the power cords and he’s cutting all the lines to our house. We’re not gonna have any hot water. ” [31:24]

“Honestly, it’s a form of insanity where you cannot see the workings of life. Where you can’t see the gears and all of that is happening. You think you can just break all of that and get away with it. We’re not going to survive with this attitude.” [31:35]

“People in British Columbia maybe don’t grasp how incredibly fortunate we are that we haven’t taken it completely apart. We’re getting there- we are disassembling it. [33:43]

“I feel that a place on earth that still make clean air, water and food - whoa a covenant needs to placed on that right now. People in British Columbia  maybe don’t grasp how incredibly fortunate we are that we haven’t taken it completely apart…” [34:02]

“We talk about robbing from future generations, but I have an 18 month old grandson,  and it’s really hard to look him in the eyes because we are taking away everything that I love and that he would love. We’re taking away the richness of life. We’re taking away the ability to survive. It really is a form of insanity that we do not act on this.” [34:30]

“I believe that Justin Trudeau is a good man… I believe that Dominique LeBlanc, our minister of fisheries, is probably a good man. He probably loves his children. They probably both do. And yet what they are both doing to their children, and ours, and us, and the whales, is unforgivable.” [35:05]

 

Links:

Support Alexandra Morton

On Twitter: @alex4salmon

Blog: http://alexandramorton.typepad.com

Official Website:  http://www.alexandramorton.ca

Follow on Facebook:  https://m.facebook.com/alexandramorton.wildsalmon/

Documentary:  http://www.salmonconfidential.ca

Legal Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/fightfishfarmslegal

 

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Check out our YouTube playlist of videos related to this Podcast Episode:

The Biggest Celebrity Death of 2016?

The World's Oldest Orca is Missing, Presumed Dead

I'm not a big fan of denial, but today I'm waiting to hear that someone out there on the Salish Sea has spotted the matriarch of the Southern Resident orcas breaching in the starlight. Resident orcas rarely leave their pods, but maybe at the age of 105 Granny felt like some "me" time.

The Center for Whale Research announced today that Granny was last spotted Oct. 12th. They waited until January 2nd (J2) to share the news that she is "missing and presumed dead." Weighing in at several tons, Granny (J2) would be the biggest celebrity death of a year that seemed toxic to A-listers. 

I'm in post-production on a documentary I directed about Granny called The Hundred Year Old Whale and just over a year ago our star put on a magical performance for us. The first night we were out filming on the water Granny swam up to our boat and slapped her tail, spy-hopped and breached -- on camera. Apparently, she decided that after over a century it was time for her close-up.

I'm a longtime Patreon patron, but new to Patreon as a creator. I'm here to share the stories of our orcas and our oceans, to spread awareness about how to s

ave them before it's too late.  I'm launching a podcast soon, but tonight I just wanted to share a link to memories of  Granny from Ken Balcomb - a man who has been watching Granny and her family for the Center for Whale Research - for all of us --  since the 1970s. Ken's license plate reads "J1RIP" - a dedication to Ruffles, the whale he believed to be Granny's son or, possibly, brother.

There's some debate over Granny's age - was she really born the same year humans finished building the hull of The Titanic? We'll never know. But no one doubts  she's a very old whale (even skeptics guess her age at near 80), which likely makes her the oldest orca on the planet.  And a vibrant one. For the last few years she has been the constant companion of a male whale from LPod, Onyx.  Male whales seldom live for long  without a mother by their side, so this doesn't bode well for L87.

If Granny is truly gone hers would be the fifth death in the Southern Resident family since this summer, leaving the world with only 78 orcas left from this unique community. This is a community with their own cultural traditions - their own languages -- that  dates back hundreds of thousands of years.  And as the first orcas ever taken captive, these are the whales that helped the world fall in love with whales.

I'm not prepared to write "RIP J2" yet. For now I'll pray for her to surface.  And I'll hope that her story inspires people to do what's needed to protect the rest of her family and all the other orcas in the Salish Sea.