March 10, 2008
Two years ago today, a brave young orca’s life ended in tragedy. Luna, who had been separated from his pod since 2002, was struck by a boat propeller and died instantly.
Luna’s legacy lives on. His story inspired people from around the world to take action in an attempt to move him closer to his pod, with hope of a reunion. This hope, almost turned into a reality, when the Canadian Government decided to relocated Luna, however their plan was flawed and this relocation never occurred.
Luna died when he was about six and a half years old, while residing in Nootka Sound, about half way up the west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island. Luna was a member of the L Pod, a pod of whales that make up the 85 or so Southern Resident Orcas. Resident orca whales spend their entire lives within their matriline. Luna was an exception as he was somehow separated from his pod when he was about two years old.
For about four years, Luna spent time in Nootka Sound, often making calls, hoping to hear another whale call in return. The calls were beautiful, but heartbreaking, as there was never a response.
As Luna spent more time in Nootka Sound, the public increased pressure on the Canadian Government to attempt to relocate Luna. In the spring of 2005, the Government finally gave into the pressure and devised a plan to relocate Luna. However, the Canadian Government never consulted with the local First Nations Band, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN).
The MMFN believed that Luna embodied the spirit of their deceased Chief Ambrose Maquinna. When Luna arrived in the Chief's traditional territory of Nootka Sound, he was given the name "Tsux'iit", in honour of the late Chief. The MMFN wanted Luna to be able to make a choice and were opposed to a “catch and release” style relocation. They preferred a “lead and follow” approach. In the end, the Canadian Government did not have the leadership to attempt the move.
This eventually cost Luna his life, when, a year later, he was accidentally killed.
Luna still inspires people from all parts of the globe. To mark this tragic anniversary, please head over to Orca Network’s Luna page and look at the Luna Quilt by Mary Bluhm.
As each March 10 passes, we ask that you do something good for an animal in your life today.