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Words of Love for Orca Whales and the Salish Sea

MGB 4-19I’m missing my writing time on the interisland this month. Chicago, where I am now, is a long way from the Salish Sea, but it (or rather, my granddaughter) calls me for regular visits. But, while she naps, I turn to some good reading I brought to inspire my thinking about the plight of the Southern Resident Orcas, Chinook Salmon, and their extended ecosystem.

love of orcas cover


For Love of Orcas is an anthology intended to honor these endangered animals, educate readers about how to protect them, and support their restoration. Published by Wandering Aengus Press, the book’s proceeds go to The SeaDoc Society. To order a copy, click here.

In case you’re baffled, as I was, about what, or who, an Aengus is (whether it’s wandering or not), you’ll find a delightful description at the Wandering Aengus Press website. Founded in September 2018 by Orcas Island poet (among many other hats) Jill McCabe Johnson, the press (and its imprint, Trail to Table Press) is dedicated to “publishing works to enrich lives and make the world a better place.” It’s off to a fantastic start with the release of For the Love of Orcas as well as the poetry collection Passings by Holly J. Hughes and the memoir-in-essays Going Feral: Field Notes on Wonder and Wanderlust by Heather Durham.

I’m honored to have my essay, “Salish Sea Account,” included in For the Love of Orcas. Jill and author Andrew Shattuck McBride edited this collection of poetry and prose by over 100 contributors from across the country. About a dozen of us celebrated the book at this year’s Orcas Island Literary Festival.


LtoR-Jill McCabe Johnson, Joseph K. Gaydos, Paula MacKay, Jed Myers, and Bob Friel. Photo credit: Alina Rios.

Four contributors—writers, filmmakers, and scientists—participated in a panel at the festival. Joseph K. Gaydos, Paula MacKay, Jed Myers, and Bob Friel discussed research methods from canine-assisted scat analysis that has revealed a 69% pregnancy failure rate, to physiological studies that prove orcas experience a full range of emotions similar to humans. Each panelist shared work from poetry to science writing, and Bob Friel, author and director of the series Salish Sea Wild, shared exclusive video of efforts by Gaydos and others to save the young orca, J50, also known as Scarlet. The clip below will introduce you to the series.

The panel also reported updates to the Washington Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Recovery Task Force recommendations.

Learn more about what you can do at the Friends of the San Juans website and by subscribing to “Salish Sea Wild.”

I look forward to being back on the wild Salish Sea soon.


2 comments on “Words of Love for Orca Whales and the Salish Sea

  1. Jay T. says:

    How does the inland Michigan sea compare in size to the Salish?


    1. Good ​question, Jay! The Salish Sea is 7,000 square miles with a maximum sea depth of 2,133 feet. I had to look up the size of Lake Michigan – 22,000 square miles! Its deepest point is 925 feet. You’ve just given me an idea for an essay about these 2 bodies of water I feel connected to. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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