Two videos uploaded over the Canada Day weekend featured sightings of orca pods in local waters close to shore and humans.
West Vancouver resident Talin Wayrynen spotted a pod of five orcas near Horseshoe Bay. He sent his drone out to capture footage of the sight, then he uploaded the footage (don't mind the silly song) on July 2.
Also during the long weekend, Vancouver director of photography Robin Léveillé posted a video he shot of two swimmers climbing onto a rocky shore as a pod of three orcas swam in the waters near them in Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver.
The term "killer whale" used for orcas is a misnomer and misleading, as they aren't whales; they are, in fact, the largest of the dolphins. What's more, while some news reports have used dramatic headlines for these videos—such as "swimmers scramble to safety"—orcas do not attack human beings in the wild.
Southern resident orcas, which inhabit B.C. coastal waters, were placed on the U.S. endangered species list in 2005.
In David Suzuki's most recent column (published on July 4), Suzuki raised concerns about how the decline of chinook salmon, which they primarily feed upon, will impact orca populations. Orcas are also affected by the increase in commercial shipping, as the noise interferes with their ability to communicate with one another and forage for prey by echolocation.
If you are interested in learning more about or supporting marine-conservation efforts, some of the many possible organizations to check out are:
• SeaChange Marine Conservation Society (based near Victoria)
• the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Recreation Society, which runs campaigns to create marine parks to protect ecosystems and biodiversity
• the Wilderness Committee, which has campaigned to pressure the federal government to improve their Action Plan on orcas
Supporting or participating in marine conservation efforts will help to ensure that there'll be more of these awe-inducing sightings both in the near future and for generations to come.