FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, August 3, 2018
Victoria / Tofino – Justin Trudeau and his family have vacationed on Vancouver Island in Tofino for the past three summers since he became the Prime Minister of Canada. Days after the Trudeau family’s current vacation started, on July 24th marine biologists observed a member of the endangered Salish Sea orcas, known as J35 or Tahlequah, swimming around carrying her dead newborn calf on her back. Nine days later and the pod of endangered orcas started taking turns floating the body of the calf who died more than week ago. Friday, August 3 marks the orcas the 11th day of mourning.
“Tahlequah is one of just 75 endangered southern resident whales and this calf was the first to be born in three years into the Salish Sea orca population, which is the same amount of time the Trudeaus have vacationed here,” said Jeh Custerra, Friends of Clayoquot Sound campaigner. “With Trudeau on the West Coast enjoying the environment that people have fought hard to protect he needs to understand that as Prime Minister of Canada his decisions, including buying the Trans Mountain pipeline, will exasperate serious issues here.”
In an effort to hold Trudeau accountable as a decision maker, Friends of Clayoquot Sound reached out to the South Island ecotourism operator, Ocean Ecoventures, to invite the Trudeaus on a reality tour to bear witness to the orcas’ mournful wake.
“We have been following the story of J-35’s grief with broken hearts. It is an overwhelming tragedy on our coast that should be a watershed moment where the plight of the orcas solidifies in the public consciousness as at a crisis point,” said Simon Pidcock, Head Captain of Ocean Ecoventures. “For the entirety of the currently ongoing grieving ritual, we have been discussing what we can do as a crew as we continue to learn updates about Talequah’s mourning. The idea of inviting Trudeau to observe comes as a welcome request to transform his understanding as a decision maker.”
The Salish Sea orcas are suffering from a lack of nutrition due to an absence of their dietary staple, Chinook salmon, which are serious decline due to climate change and environmental stress.
“The Trans Mountain expansion would increase oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea by 700% and undermine Canada’s global climate change commitments,” said Eva Garofalo, Dogwood BC’s South Island Organizer. “Stopping this oil tanker expansion is critical for orcas, salmon, and the livelihoods of people on the West Coast. We can’t escape our interconnectedness.”
“The Salish Sea orcas are fighting for their lives every day. They don’t get to take vacations,” said Mark Worthing, Climate & Conservation Campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “No decision maker can have a fully informed perspective about the consequences of their actions until they witness the hardship of those most impacted. The Trans Mountain pipeline buyout completely undermines the new oceans protections plan and any efforts of the DFO to aid these endangered whales.
Eva Garofalo, Dogwood BC, South Island Organizer: 250-370-9930 ext. 31
Simon Pidcock, Ocean Ecoventures, Head Captain: 250-748-3800
Mark Worthing, Sierra Club BC, Climate & Conservation Campaigner: 250-889-3575
Jeh Custerra, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Campaigner: 250-725-4218