|FYI — July 2004|
|By Brad Dunn|
Whale of a Problem
“Solitary killer whales tend to be drawn to boats,” explains Brian Gorman, spokesman for the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle. “But L-98 actually seems to enjoy pushing boats around. Many boaters find it thrilling at first. But after four or five hours of being knocked around by a whale, they’ve usually had enough.”
This summer, the United States and Canada will launch Plan A of their joint effort to return Luna to his pod: They will draw him out to the mouth of the Sound when the pod is expected to pass by. If that doesn’t work, they will physically transport him to the Pacific Ocean this fall.
Why the urgency? “The nuisance problem of L-98 can no longer be ignored,” Gorman says. For example, he reports that two fishermen were a few miles offshore last summer when their outboard died. As they rowed back toward shore, Luna paid them a visit. Every time they rowed forward, he playfully knocked them back. The whale kept them out on the water the entire day, apparently never growing bored of the game.
“He’s very lonely,” says Ryan Lejbak, spokesman for ReuniteLuna.com, a Web site devoted to returning the whale to his pod. “He’s not threatening, but down the road someone could get hurt.”
Lejbak, a self-described orca fanatic, believes Luna is ready to return to his pod and that Plan A will work. “His behavior has changed a lot in the last few months,” Lejbak said. “Even his affection for boats has diminished. Some say he’s like a rock star now, because suddenly he’s acting like he’s too good for everyone.”
Is Luna starting to miss his pod, or is he just laying low for a while? Boaters won’t know until midsummer if this prodigal whale is ready to go home.
This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.