There's a very slim chance that Luna the killer whale, alone in Vancouver Island's Nootka Sound since 2001, could reunite with his family on his own. Members of L-pod, Luna's relatives...
VICTORIA, B.C. There’s a very slim chance that Luna the killer whale, alone in Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound since 2001, could reunite with his family on his own.
Members of L-pod, Luna’s relatives who spend the summer in waters off Washington state’s San Juan Islands, were spotted early this month near Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Luna watchers hope that means they’ll swim past the entrance to Nootka Sound, about 70 miles to the north and also on the island’s west coast. Luna has lived on his own in the sound, a long, curvy body of water, for almost 3-1/2 years.
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Even the most-avid supporters of a natural reunion agree it would take a whole lot of luck for Luna and L-pod to find each other.
L-pod would have to be vocalizing as the whales passed the entrance to Nootka Sound, and Luna would have to be close enough to the entrance to hear them.
“Everyone likes to get their hopes up,” said Marilyn Joyce, marine-mammal coordinator for Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“The chances are remote, but miracles could happen and we all hope for them,” she said.
Luna, a pet name for the animal scientists call L-98 for his birth order in L-pod, usually hangs out farther inland lately at his favorite fishing grounds in Mooyah Bay.
Lonely and apparently seeking contact, the 5-year-old whale has periodically damaged and disabled several boats.
The government has no plans right now to try to lead Luna to the sound’s entrance with a boat, but it could happen, Joyce said.
“We are always poised if there is a sighting, but we don’t know if we would even be able to find him in time if L-pod does appear in the area,” she said.
Paul Spong, director of the OrcaLab research station on the island, said L-pod members spotted Dec. 2 off Bamfield have not been seen since.
But he said they also have not returned to the San Juans, where the two other pods in the so-called southern resident killer whale population remain.
“That means they could possibly still be up off the west coast,” he said.