In 2009, this human orca mural was created on Vashon to celebrate the victory against the gravel mine on Maury Island. (Courtesy Photo)

In 2009, this human orca mural was created on Vashon to celebrate the victory against the gravel mine on Maury Island. (Courtesy Photo)

Human “orca mural” planned for Saturday

  • Thursday, August 23, 2018 12:04pm
  • News

NOTE: The location of this event has changed since it was first announced. It will be at Lisabuela.

The Vashon-based Backbone Campaign, an advocacy organization, has planned a creative action for this Saturday to spotlight the plight of the southern resident orcas as they starve from a lack of salmon — their primary source of food.

The group, and 200-plus islanders, will dress in black and form the shape of an orca at Lisabuela, much like was done to celebrate the win against the Maury Island gravel mine in 2009. A drone camera will take photos when the human mural is complete.

In a press release, the group said that the idea is to show solidarity with Tahlequah, the grieving orca mother who carried her dead calf through the Salish Sea for close to three weeks, as testimony to the urgent need to repair salmon habitat.

“We must honor mother orca Tahlequah’s courage, intelligence and endurance by taking actions to make her sacrifice deliver real change for her pod, the chinook salmon and the beings of the Salish Sea. She has successfully made the invisible visible more effectively than any activist organization ever could — and we can build upon her action. As Governor Inslee recently said, ‘As go the orca, so go we’,” Bill Moyer, executive director of the Backbone Campaign, said in the press release.

Inslee signed an executive order in March that instructed state agencies to outline both short-and long-term solutions and formed a task force to make recommendations that further protect and attempt to restore the iconic mammals’ population.

But Ken Balcomb, of the Center for Whale Research here in Washington, has suggested that dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers are at the heart of the problem — and also, therefore, the solution.

“The biggest watershed was in the Columbia and Snake River basin,” he said in a recent news story. “That was 12 million fish, that was a huge amount of fish. Damming those rivers up and preventing access to their spawning grounds was the coup de grace for chinook salmon.”

Inslee has said while he “wouldn’t shy away” from a fight to remove the dams, that decision is ultimately up to the federal government, and that immediate action is needed in the meantime.

Anyone interested in participating in the orca mural should RSVP to backbonecampaign.org/vashon_orca_mural. The event is free and will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Lisabuela.

— Sarah Low

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