Whale watching gone too far | Letter to the editor

I’m struggling to find words to express my disgust at what could be called a “feeding frenzy” by about 16 boatloads of people vying to get a view of a pod of three orcas outside of Shoal Bay one recent afternoon. The boat operators were clearly in violation of the 200 yard regulated distance and to me it was sickening to see these boats all swarming around the orcas like a horde of botflies over a carcass. As was stated in last week’s article entitled “The incredible intellect of dolphins and whales,” scientists have determined through research that dolphins (which include orcas) are capable of abstract thinking. This means that they can think about things not actually present. So, endowed with that ability, what should we suppose orcas feel when they are surrounded by a deafening cacophony of thrashing of propellers and noxious fumes from boat exhausts?

Can we imagine that they might wish that boats were not present?

Someday, perhaps sooner than later, if this insane practice continues, there will be only one orca left, and then it too will die. The last sightseeing boat captain will have to pull his brochures from the racks and find a different way to make a living. He has the ability to adapt, something that unfortunately, even the smartest orca cannot do.

Harold Van Doren

Lopez Island