Thursday, September 13, 2018

Reactions to Orca J-50's Untimely Death

With the passing of another Southern Resident Orca, J50, & the ongoing lack of urgency shown by Washington State Leaders Governor Jay Inslee, & Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray... 

The world watches as a corrupted political system, one that places monied interests over science & reason, leads to the functional extinction of Washington's most iconic species, the Killer Whale, aka #Blackfish. These leaders, if they had the political will, could compel the Army Corps of Engineering's Commander to breach the deadbeat (money losing, salmon killing) dams on the lower Snake River, using Alternative 4 from the 2002 Environmental Impact Study (EIS), opening up hundreds of miles of currently inaccessible habitat. Instead, they all seem to agree that shooting sea lions is a good idea, with Senator Cantwell co sponsoring the law that allows for it. 

Each dam plus it's hot slack-water reservoir has > 10% mortality for migrating smolts. If you have 4 dams on the Snake & 4 more on the Columbia River, that's a total of 8 dams that a salmon above Lower Granite dam, near Pullman, WA, has to navigate on its way to the ocean, and another 8 to get back home to spawn! Those are impossible odds. 

Historically So. Resident killer whales obtained up to 50% of their diet from Snake River Chinook salmon, spending nearly a quarter of their lives at the mouth of the Columbia River waiting. Based on a 2016 NOAA study, which analyzed orca scat for salmon DNA  - these whales now derive 0% of their nutrition from the Snake River fish & are forced to look elsewhere. With Chinook runs dwindling everywhere in the NE Pacific, you can understand why these whales are starving. By the way, both culturally & physiologically (with unique teeth & gastric fluids) it is not possible for So Residents to "switch prey" like some suggest. They are fishermen with 8 million years of evolution on us. 

Why on Earth does Governor Inslee have a Koch-Funded climate denying "think tank" participating with his salmon recovery task force? Why is dam breaching not a priority at these meetings? In all likelihood because the task force is basically a ruse, a show; to create the impression that he is taking affirmative action & being inclusive. Spoiler: Salmon need riverine habitat, not beach clean ups or other marginal efforts. There's plenty of climate-change resistant habitat that would be opened up by decommissioning the lower Snake River dams. If you want a quick course on these arguments, watch this video with Jim Waddell, RET Army Corps of Engineers: 

Good news:  If breaching happens, it's a win for everyone, including the Governor, the Senators, the salmon, steelhead, orcas, the tribes, trees & even the GOP. Why?  Because these dams are MONEY LOSERS producing 100% surplus energy. Bonneville Power is selling it mostly to California for a loss while having to raise your rates. (Translation: You're rate payer bill is LESS if the Snake River is restored to it's natural course!). 

MORE at  DamSense website here & at DamStupid Website here 

They are "run of river" dams with NO FLOOD CONTROL. And lastly they are easy to breach with earthen berms. Thus when you consider the facts (not the propaganda): 

The decision to breach is a NO-BRAINER


A message from chief scientist at the Center for Whale Research in Washington state, Ken Balcomb, followed by Twitter's reaction to J-50's demise: