Yesterday, The Whale Museum re-opened in Friday Harbor after a six-week closure for renovation and exhibit installation. They are now offering two exhibits: the Gallery of Whales and the newly unveiled exhibit which features both Sooke, a three-year-old Southern Resident orca, and Gray Whales.
Whether you’re wrapping up Valentine’s Day weekend on the San Juans or planning your getaway for this summer, The Whale Museum offers a unique look at the lives of our large, ocean friends.
The Gallery of Whales provides a wealth of information about the natural history of marine mammals, with a special focus on the orcas of J, K, and L pods living in the waters of the San Juan Islands. It features a collection of artwork, models, and artifacts including real whale skeletons and a family tree of resident orcas. Additionally, you can listen to the “songs” of various whales species in the Whale Phone Booth.
Sooke was a young female of the San Juan Islands resident L Pod. In February of 2012, she washed ashore at Long Beach, Washington. While the investigation is still on-going, the cause of her death has been attributed to overall blunt trauma.
We know Sooke to have been a spunky whale, full of energy. Her L Pod includes her mother Surprise! (L-86) and her siblings with whom was often she spotted playing.
The loss of a female in any of the Southern Resident Community pods is of great significance to this endangered species. But, a loss of a female within the L Pod is even greater because most calves born to the L Pod in recent years have been male. After The Whale Museum learned of Sooke’s death, they requested her body come “home” to San Juan Island, where she arests today.
The Whale Exhibit also focuses on Gray Whales, telling their story from birthing to feeding grounds.
Photo Credit: Sooke Breaching by Jeanne Hyde, The Whale Museum