A grand vision to mark 15 key whale-watching spots on our state’s inland and seacoast shores — The Whale Trail — is coming closer to reality. At one spot set for a marker, Alki, a who’s-who of marine mammal/ecology advocates gathered last night for an open house to show off the plan, including Whale Trail director Donna Sandstrom (seated in the photo below) and Kathy Fletcher from People for Puget Sound:
Sandstrom said orca extinction “will not happen on our watch … it’s not too late.” Fletcher said awareness-raising efforts like The Whale Trail are “part of the overall effort to restore Puget Sound … as an ecosystem.” She also urged people not to be fooled by the Sound’s “extraordinary beauty” — “Puget Sound is in trouble,” all the way down the food chain, which is topped by the orcas.
One of their major sources of food is salmon – Mark Sears, longtime researcher as well as resident operator of West Seattle’s Colman Pool, discussed what’s being learned about the specific salmon they prefer, and why it matters:
The importance of protecting local waterways was hammered home by Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen, who also digressed into mentioning the status of her tribe’s bid for restoration of its short-lived federal recognition:
The unifying message: It takes not just a village, but a region, to protect its whales. Sandstrom suggested “a clear vision for everyone in the room, that by 2020, we have a thriving orca population here in Puget Sound – The Whale Trail is one way we’re going to do that.” It’s not just a private effort: A state Fish and Wildlife Department rep was there, showing off the designs for new wildlife maps you’ll be able to get starting next month, and also talking with us about the WildWatch Cams (check it out – coolest link we got all weekend). So how can you help The Whale Trail get all 15 markers up by 2013 as hoped? Sandstrom mentioned a $14K state grant has just come in, but it’s matching funds, so they need contributions (including volunteer help). Contact info is on their website, which she told us will have a “donate” link soon too.