We have come to the end of another amazing Orca Action Month, and for the second year in a row we took the celebration online, with (mostly) virtual events bringing together orca researchers, fans, and supporters from around the world.
Orca Month began as Orca Awareness Month, created by our friends at Orca Network more than a decade ago to share the story of the Southern Resident orcas with people around the Pacific Northwest, the home of this unique community of orcas. As more people and organizations joined the effort, Orca Month evolved to become Orca Action Month to rally advocates around immediate and bold actions to help the endangered Southern Residents.
This year’s Orca Month theme, “We are Family”, highlighted the distinct parallels between Southern Resident orca families and human families while recognizing the orcas’ individual community, strong family bonds, and unique culture. At a time when family has been on all our minds – whether from spending lots (and lots) of time with our own covid “pods” or finding new ways to connect with those we haven’t been able to see in person – the Orca Month team wanted to encourage everyone to think about the other families who share our world and how much we have in common. “We Are Family” is about how we’re connected to the orcas, and also about how we can come together and support actions to protect and recover this special group of orcas.
We at WDC were excited to work with some of our extended “whamily” for our 2021 Orca Month events: a sneak peek at Coextinction, an upcoming documentary about the Southern Resident orcas with our partners at Defenders of Wildlife and Patagonia; a chat about orca research with Dr. Giles of Conservation Canines and Wild Orca (and of course a virtual noggin-pat to Eba the Whale Dog); jumping on board a virtual whale watch with Oceana; what it means to declare the Salish Sea a Hope Spot with Mission Blue & the Seattle Aquarium; and some truly insightful conversations about conservation during our second annual Orca Month Book Club with Whale Scout. We were also thrilled to connect with our supporter whamily through livestreams, featuring a weekly orca trivia question and a chance to win some great orca swag!
The silver lining of shifting Orca Month to a virtual platform for the last two years is that we can connect with a worldwide audience. The Southern Residents are known and beloved around the world, and we enjoy uniting with the global family of orca advocates to take action to save them.
The official month for Orca Action may be wrapped up, but the work continues! For us, every month is Orca Month (but with fewer webinars). You can keep the celebration going by revisiting some highlights from this year (see list below), learning about individual Southern Residents in “Orca Tales,” following up on the calls to action, and signing up for future actions by becoming an Orca Hero with WDC.
Here are a few of my favorite events from Orca Month 2021:
- The 2021 kickoff experience
- WDC’s chat with Conservation Canines
- Orca Behavior Institute’s Familial Connections Among the Southern Resident Orcas
- Whale Scout Orca Book Club chat with Dr. John Ford on Culture in Orcas
- Coast Salish Salmon and Orca Culture event