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Sunday
Jul152012

Adopted Whales: Saying Goodbye and Saying Hello

I metNimpkish Photo: Carla Richards Nimpkish while I was whale watching from a boat off the coast of Vancouver Island. In fact, he swam right under our boat—and let me just say, he was huge! Nimpkish, a resident killer whale, was well known to the crew of the boat—identifiable by his tall, straight dorsal fin. Other whales came and went, but Nimpkish seemed to hang around with us that afternoon. It was a special experience.

For my birthday that year, I was given a Wild Killer Whale Adoption of Nimpkish as Nimpkish ID Photo: Fisheries and Oceans Canada(DFO)a present. My brother asked me if my whale would send me a photo and letter every year, but Nimpkish wasn't great at correspondence. However, I would check the Blackfish Sounder, the member newsletter, hoping to read about him.

Nimpkish was a Resident Killer Whale, which means among other things that he had a tight-knit matriarchal family pod, a smaller predictable range along the B.C. coast, and ate mainly fish. In contrast, Transient Killer Whales roam over much larger areas, have looser social structures and primarily eat marine mammals.

I recently learned that Nimpkish disappeared, and is presumed dead. When Nimpkish disappeared, his mother, Scimitar, spent a lot of time swimming alone and calling for him. In what has been, to researchers, anRainy Photo: Lance Barrett-Leonard, Vancouver Aquarium unexpected reaction to Nimpkish's death, she is now spending time on her own, or in the company of the A36 sub-pod of males who had lost their mother, and were without a matriarch. Scimitar is the matriarch (and great-grandmother) of the A12 sub-pod.  

 Adopting a wild animal isn't the same as having a companion animal that lives with you, but I cared about Nimpkish, and it made me sad to hear he was gone. Although, I like to think that maybe Nimpkish decided to run off with a trampy transient.

In honour of Nimpkish, I have adopted Rainy. Rainy is a young calf from the A12 sub-pod, and is Nimpkish's niece or nephew. Researchers have not been able to tell yet if Rainy is a girl or boy. I'll keep you posted.

Rainy ID Photo: Lance Barrett-Leonard, Vancouver AquariumVancouver Aquarium's Wild Killer Whale Adoption program supports important whale research and conservation. Find out more at about the adoption program, and about killer whales at http://killerwhale.vanaqua.org/kwap/adopt

Do you have any experiences rescuing, adopting or volunteering with wild animals? I'd love to hear about them. 

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Reader Comments (2)

I once saved two abandoned baby pigeons. I only had them for a night before good research indicated there was a bird rescue facility just on half-hour outside of Ottawa. I trade my with-car roommate a breakfast for the trip and two birds who spent some formative days of their lives in a flowerbed were onto better things ... small wired cages and dropper feedings.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMDR

MDR, that's cool :) I don't think I've ever heard that story before. How goes the saga with the kitties and the raccoon? Carla

July 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterCarla Richards

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