Every year Orca Spirit completes new Southern Resident Killer Whale adoptions from the Whale Museum on San Juan Island, Washington. This year we adopted one whale from both K and L pods. Adoption funds support the important work of the Whale Museum including the operation of their amazing, educational Exhibit Hall, operating the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, operating the SoundWatch Boater Education Program, and supporting research on orca communications to name a few. The Whale Museum’s Southern Resident Killer Whale adoption packages include very interesting information about the whale(s) you adopt. Here are some of these fun facts for you.
Meet Our Adopted Whales
Spock is a fan favourite whether you are a Star Trek junkie or not. She is a very easy whale to identify with her very straight dorsal fin (females tend to have curved dorsal fins), and the large black boomerang shapes in both of her saddle patches. Spock was born in 1986 and received her name in 1987 after the movie Star Trek IV was released– the famous Star Trek movie with the Humpback Whale. Guests bring up this movie on many whale watching tours!
Spock is the daughter of Skagit (K-13), who passed away in 2017. She has two living siblings, her sister Deadhead (K-27) and her younger brother Cali (K-34). Her brother Scoter (K-27) passed away in 2019. Before his passing, Scoter appeared to be malnourished from a lack of Chinook salmon. Spock has one son named Comet (K-38), who is 16 years old this year. Comet is never far from his mother as they travel the local waterways.
Spock and other members of her immediate family are known to be very social, spending extended periods of time with whales from J and L pods. In 2009, the K13 matriline traveled with J pod for three weeks. Spock also seems to be close to Muncher (L-91) and her son Magic (L-122). She has been seen traveling with Muncher and her brood on different occasions. It is not uncommon for killer whales to help take care of other whales in their community. They often develop strong bonds with other members of their population, just like we develop bonds with our friends. To our dear friend Spock we say, “Live Long and Prosper”!
Ballena has been a very special whale to Orca Spirit naturalists over the years and we cherish every moment we get to see her. She was born in 1993 to Baba (L-26), who passed away in 2013. Her name means “whale” in Spanish. Ballena made a big impression on researchers as s a young calf when she breached at least 10 times in a row one day while swimming with her brother Hugo (L-71). When calves are young, it is impossible to determine their sex unless you can see their bellies where male and female whales have different pigmentation marks. Because Ballena was so exuberant that day, scientists were able to determine that she is female.
Ballena is a whale who teaches us about strength and overcoming adversity. She has suffered many losses in her life, but she is still a vibrant member of her pod. In addition to losing her mother, Ballena has lost all of her siblings – Salish (L-52) in 1983, Rascal (L-60) in 2002, and Hugo (L-71) in 2006. With no immediate surviving family members, Ballena traveled close to her nephew Crewser (L-92), who has been one of her closest friends since they were just calves. It was very heart-warming to see them surfacing side-by-side during many encounters. Sadly, Crewser passed away in 2013. Ballena has also never had a surviving calf, but she has always shown interest in helping other mothers in her pod with their little ones. She really should be called “Super Auntie Ballena”!
Ballena is most often seen traveling with Muncher (L-91) and her son Magic (L-122). When Magic was just a tiny calf, Ballena was seen traveling alongside him with his mother on his other side. She seems to want to help protect and nurture calves in her pod. She is also a very social whale, often seen mingling with other matrilines most notably in J and L pods. We think of her as a part of the family too!
Are you interested in Southern Resident Killer Whale adoptions? You can adopt a Southern Resident Killer Whale from the Whale Museum too!
The team at Orca Spirit would also love to welcome you aboard a whale watching tour where you can meet lots of whales from the many different populations in our local waters.