NOAA 2004-R128
Contact: Brian Gorman

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Killer Whale Luna May Reunite With Family

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and its Canadian counterpart, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), today announced a cooperative plan to return the juvenile killer whale, known as Luna, or L98, to its southern resident population. The four-year old whale separated from his family group and has been living alone in Nootka Sound on the west coast of British Columbia since the summer of 2001.

NOAA Fisheries will discuss the plan at a public meeting on April 5, as part of a two-day public forum, “For the Love of Orcas,” sponsored by the Orca Conservancy at the Rosario Resort & Spa on Orcas Island.

If Luna’s pod ends up near Nootka Sound this spring as biologists suspect, the two agencies will attempt to lead the whale to his family pod. Historically, sightings during this time of year are rare and both agencies are asking the public and other government agencies, including the Coast Guard and Navy, to report any killer whale sightings, their location, the number of animals and direction of travel along the outer coast of Vancouver Island to NOAA Fisheries at

Because Luna’s pod may not be located near Nootka Sound, the agencies said that money and other resources are needed to move ahead with a plan for capturing and moving Luna south to rejoin his family group when it returns to southern British Columbia waters in the early summer. Public donations and in-kind contributions are being solicited for the relocation.

The agencies are working with the Whale Museum in Washington state and the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia to implement the plan. The museum and aquarium are prepared to receive contributions from groups or individuals.

NOAA Fisheries and DFO began working on the joint plan when both governments pledged $100,000 each for the reintroduction effort. “Beyond returning the young animal to his family, reintroduction is necessary,” the agencies’ officials said. “The whale has developed unwanted behavior, damaging property and putting people at risk by aggressively seeking out boaters and float planes.” Officials with both agencies said reintroduction provides the best opportunity for Luna to end his dangerous behavior, while allowing him to remain in the wild.

NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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