In 1995 Howard Garrett and Susan Berta started a campaign to return Lolita, a captive orca in Miami, to her native waters in Puget Sound. By 2001, their efforts transformed into the Orca Network, an organization dedicated to educating the public about habitat restoration for Orcas.
Today, the Orca Network has members that include everyone from recreational whale-watchers to journalists, scientists, conservationists, public officials, students and teachers. The Orca Network provides unique educational opportunities to Camp Casey Conference Center guests.
“We send out regular compilations of whale sightings and photos to our email list, and we use social media to bring current news, personal stories and important issues to their attention, all to enhance awareness about the orcas, grays and other whales in the waters around Whidbey Island,” Garrett said. “We also send out press releases about current events, and are known by many local, state, and national media, so when news happens we are often called for comments.”
The Orca Network is dedicated to reaching out to everyone, young and old, to teach them about the importance of habitat protection and conservation of Orcas. Garrett feels especially passionate about educating children. In 2001 he wrote “Orcas In Our Midst”, a booklet targeted at educating middle-school students about Orcas. The second volume of the booklet was released in 2005.
“Camp Casey is a great set of facilities for large groups in a beautiful location that happens to have fantastic views of Admiralty Inlet, which is the entrance to Puget Sound for orcas and gray whales, plus occasional humpbacks, minke whales, and the ever-present porpoises, seals and sea lions, and a great variety of seabirds,” Anderson said.
Co-founder of the Orca Network, Susan Berta, is also coordinator and administrator for the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network, overseeing volunteer training, stranding response, necropsy and sampling of stranded marine mammals in three counties. Many Puget Sound organizations and voters have recognized Berta and Garrett for their numerous contributions and activism roles on behalf of Orcas.
Guests at Camp Casey now have the opportunity to incorporate Orca education into outdoor education programs at Camp. To learn more about the Orca Network, visit www.orcanetwork.org or you can view the sightings list by visiting the Facebook page www.facebook.com/orcanetwork .