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Memorial in Seattle for deceased orcas

“First we mourn, then we organize,” is the message on the invite for a memorial honoring two resident orca whales that recently died in Puget Sound waters.

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Those interested are invited to attend the event on Friday (3 p.m. – 7 p.m.) at Occidental Park in Seattle. According to the Facebook event page, about 300 people have RSVP’ed so far.

J50, also known as Scarlet, was officially presumed dead last week when scientists said they hadn’t spotted her with the J pod for a full week. The 3-year-old orca had been struggling to gain weight. Teams of scientists shot her with darts full of antibiotics and the Lummi Nation attempted to feed her live salmon with medication. They were trying to get close enough to administer de-wormer.

Weeks before that, another whale in the J pod, J35 or Tahlequah, lost her female calf. She carried it for 17 days and over 1,000 miles before finally letting it go on Aug. 11. Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, told The Seattle Times that J35 has likely lost two other calves since giving birth to a male calf in 2010.

Scientists say the stories of J50 and J35 shed light on the challenges the entire Southern-Resident Killer Whale population face in the Puget Sound region. The entire group, consisting of the J,K and L pods, is down to just over 70 whales and scientists are worried that without intervention, that number will eventually drop to zero.

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