Orca Project 2011: British Columbia
 
 
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This coming summer the Orca Project will return to British Columbia where it began in 1982 as a volunteer field research program.
It was in l985 at our camp on West Cracroft Island, across from the Robson Bight Killer Whale Preserve on northern Vancouver Island, that we befriended a pod of wild orcas led by Nicola, its grand matriarch. The connection began when Nicola and her pod were en route to Blackfish Sound, and Dr. Eaton stood up in his boat and yelled out, “Nicola! Nicola!” Nicola responded by changing her direction more than ninety degrees and swimming directly toward Eaton’s boat, followed by a calf.

Not long after, Nicola swam by herself into the small cove where the Orca Project anchored its boats, and floated on the surface twenty yards offshore facing Eaton and nine volunteers who were eating dinner around a campfire on the beach. As soon as they saw Nicola the group jumped up, and Nicola swam around to the open Strait as the research crew ran up to the observation post overlooking the Strait. Nicola floated on the surface facing the post as the cows and calves of her pod emerged on both sides of her in a semi-circular pattern with Nicola in the center position at top, all the orcas floating stationary on the surface facing the humans.

Then two cows swam to the kelp beds with a calf between them. The calf spyhopped over and over, coming up out of the water to look at the humans looking at it. The people were ecstatic, jumping up and down, hooting and hollering, too engaged to think about taking photos of the most spectacular event any had experienced in orcaland. The cows and calf returned to the circle, and then another pair of cows came toward shore on each side of a calf, which spyhopped over and over to look at the people. As before, the cows remained floating on the surface on each side of the calf as it spyhopped repeatedly.  And also as before they returned to the formation as a third pair of cows accompanied the final calf to see the humans close up.

On that day the theme of the Orca Project became “a meeting of nations.” See Randall Eaton’s book, The Orca Project: A Meeting of Nations, also his award-wining TV production, “Orca: the Sacred Whale,” for images of the B.C. camp and orcas.

West Cracroft Island is a true wilderness island seven miles from the village of Telegraph Cove. Otters, porpoises, seals, bald eagles and orcas abound there. Starting in the summer of 2003, the Orca Project stopped following orcas in boats because they swim right along the shore of the camp day and night and also can be observed at a distance from the observation post.

Volunteers do go out in kayaks to be with the orcas and for recreation, and there is excellent fishing from kayaks and boats. Volunteers also snorkel and scuba dive in wet or dry suits. Excursions are taken to ancient native village sites and to the Museum at Alert Bay, and native elders visit camp and share the wisdom of their cultures.

Families and children are welcome.
Late June through early September, 2011. To make reservations contact Dr. Eaton at reaton@eoni.com.


 
 

 

 
 
 Orca Project Registration and Release Form

PRINT THE FORM AT BOTTOM AND SEND TO:
reaton@eoni.com or mail to: Orca Project, 5128 Ralph Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45238


Orca Project: Visit: www.dolphinandwhale.org and click on Projects page or email reaton@eoni.com for information. You also can visit www.randalleaton.com to view a clip from the award-wining TV broadcast produced by Randall Eaton, “Orca: The Sacred Whale.”

Mission: Orca Project 2011 has a mission of completing a third documentary about orca whales, “Spirit of the Orca,” which examines  the orca through native eyes, including the mythopoetics of the coastal B.C. First Nations tribal peoples. We’ll interview elders, medicine people, fishermen and others. Dr. Eaton is convinced that in several important respects the aboriginal peoples of the coast who have lived side-by-side with orcas for millennia know the orca better than contemporary science. He also firmly believes it is important to honor and share their point of view.

Dates: Expedition dates are June 15-21; June 24-30; July 3-9; July 12-18, July 21-27; July 30 – Aug. 5; Aug. 8-14; Aug. 18-24; Aug. 18-24;
and, Aug. 27-Sept. 2. Another expedition might be added on Sept 5 – 11. Each expedition starts at 3 PM on the start-day and ends at noon on the last day. It is the volunteers’ duty to be at the embarkation point at Alder Bay Resort no later than 3PM on the starting day, unless otherwise arranged with Randall Eaton, Director.

Cost: $1300/person; $1000 for students; discount for families (people from three months to 80+ years old have participated). Fee includes: camping area; boats, engines and fuel; kayaks; marine safety gear; food and cooking and eating utensils; radio/emergency phone; binoculars and spotting scopes; field library; tents; transportation of equipment to site; travel from Alder Bay Resort (between Pt McNeil and Telegraph Cove) to campsite and return; instruction and supervision; photography and videography; promotional expense; and, staff compensation.

Not Included: alcoholic beverages; fishing gear; scuba or snorkeling gear; personal cameras; bedding; linen or maid service.

You Bring: sleeping bag and air mattress or pad; clothes – jeans, shorts, sweater or jacket; wool cap or hood; stowable light rain suit; tennis shoes with non-slip soles; knee-high rubber boots recommended; wool socks. Other: biodegradable body soap; insect repellent; sunglasses; flashlight with extra batteries; towel; freezer bag to protect camera at sea; luggage – back pack or duffle bag recommended – with waterproof cover (large,
HD garbage bag works well).

Recommended: A wet or dry suit if you want to snorkel. The water is cold so be sure to bring hood, gloves and booties. Camera with short tele-lens - orcas pass quite close to shore. A short fishing pole with 20# test line, 3-ounce weights, large flashers, pink or green squid lures or spoons. Tackle and licenses available locally. Personal journal.

Camp Water: We haul water to camp for cooking and drinking, and use Solar Showers with salt water for bathing.

Must Bring: Passport. If Immigration agents ask you where you are going and what you are doing tell them you are field research volunteers for the Orca Project and will be staying at a wilderness camp on West Cracroft Island seven miles from Alder Bay.  Prohibited: Firearms, fireworks, illegal drugs, TVs, no radios (walkman with ear plugs OK), camp furniture. Bring only what you need.

Volunteer Duties: Through their direct participation, assistance and financial support, volunteers engage in a wilderness expedition with an educational and research mission.  All volunteers are required to contribute time, energy and cooperation towards community life in the field. You do bring income to B.C. and the work you are helping to accomplish promotes tourism to B.C. and global interest in orcas and their welfare.  Along with daily chores all volunteers will have free time to explore, enjoy and learn about the spectacular environment and the creatures of it.  Volunteers divide into teams and rotate duties. A team of 3-4 people may have breakfast duty on one day, but lunch duty the next. There is always someone on duty at the lookout watching for orcas, recording their movements and behavior and identifying  individual orcas and pods. Except for planned events or outings, the remainder of volunteers’ days are free for rest, reading, exploration, nature study, kayaking, fishing, photography, snorkeling, etc.

Camp Rules: No one may leave the camp area without permission and reporting to the team on duty so that we always are aware of where volunteers are and when they expect to return. In the event that volunteers do not return on schedule and cannot be sighted, alarm calls will be broadcast to locate them. If that meets with no response then a rescue party will be launched in the direction the volunteers went. Volunteers who fish or kayak must wear life vests at all times, and must adhere to Provincial regulations and camp rules. Violation of provincial regulation or camp rules may result in termination of volunteers without compensation. The Orca Project reserves the right to expel anyone at any time for conduct deemed deleterious to the project, camp, environment, staff or other volunteers.

Diet: Some of the camp food will be organic, but food obtained locally may not be. We will fish and gather foods locally in accordance with Provincial regulations, e.g., digging clams when safe from red tide, trapping prawns, catching salmon and ling cod. Alternatives to seafood will be available as will vegetarian meals.

Travel: The Orca Project is not a travel agency, but here is some helpful information. Alder Bay Resort is located on the eastern side of northern Vancouver Island between Port McNeil and Telegraph Cove. Most volunteers drive up the Island to Alder Bay Resort where they park their cars or they fly into Port Hardy, the closest airport, north of Port McNeil. For those of you who drive from the Seattle area, you have two primary routes: the ferry service at Anacortes, WA, about an hour north of Seattle, Which will take you through the San Juan Islands to Sidney on Vancouver Island just north of Victoria, B.C. Or, you take I-5 north from Seattle, cross the border to B.C. then To Vancouver and the Tsawassen Ferry over to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From Sidney you travel on Hwy 1 to Nanaimo then north on Hwy 19 until you are nearly to Port McNeil then look for the sign to Alder Bay on your right and follow it to the resort, Park tour car and meet us at the dock.  If you fly into Port Hardy you can rent a taxi to Alder Bay. There are plenty of places to spend the night on your way north on the Island or at Port Hardy.  Here are some websites and phone numbers that may help you plan your trip:
- Vancouver Island North Visitor’s Association - www.vinva.bc.ca – or phone 800-903-6660
- Vancouver Island Destinations – www.northislandtours.com
- North Island Taxi (taxi at Port Hardy airport). Phone 250-949-8800.
- B.C. ferry schedules/rates – www.bcferries.com
- Washington State Ferry System – 888-808-7977 or 206-454-6400.

Kenmore Air in Seattle (Elliot Bay just north of downtown) can fly you directly to Port McNeil. We will pick up volunteers who fly into Port McNeil. Kenmore provides shuttle service from SeaTac airport to Elliot Bay and back to the airport. Phone 800-543-9595.

Expect considerable delays on the WA Ferry Service in the summer especially on Fridays. You can get off the ferry on any of four San Juan Islands serviced by the Ferry System, either en route to B.C. or during your return trip. Lime Kiln Point Park on the west side of San Juan Island is the best place to view orcas from land.

If Late: Please call and leave a message at our main phone at 513-244-2826 and email reaton@eoni.com and/or call 513-300-4168 (Randall’s cell phone).

Emergency: People trying to reach you while you are on the Orca Project can either call your cell phone number or use the contact information above.

Camp Safety: We’ve never had a serious accident or mishap other than an insect bite on the Orca Project since 1982 when it began in B.C. Most dangerous are the slippery rocks along the shoreline, especially at low tide which is why non-slip soles are beneficial. If you snorkel or scuba dive, there is nothing to fear from orcas. They have only attacked humans as reprisal for human aggression to them. Often they are friendly to people who snorkel or dive. Normally, the region of B.C. we’ll be in is among the most comfortable summer environments imaginable, with dry, long, sunny days. But always be prepared for wind, rain and spray while traveling in open boats or kayaks: it is best to stow a lightweight rain suit while at sea.

Recommended Reading/Viewing:
Erich Hoyt. Orca: The Whale Called Killer (2nd edition)
Robin W. Baird. Killer Whales of the World.
John K. B. Ford et al. Killer Whales (2nd edition)
Randall L. Eaton. The Orca Project: A Meeting of Nations.
Randall L. Eaton. “Orca: The Sacred Whale.”
Robert Otis. “Humans of the Sea”
Alexandra Morton. In the Company of Whales.
Alexandra Morton. Listening to Whales.
Peter J. Fromm. Whale Tales Vol. I and II
The Dolphin and Whale Magazine - www.dolphinandwhale.org


Application and Release Form

Full name(s):_________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
Number in party______ Date today_________Expedition date__________________
$_______ deposit (50%) sent. Balance due 45 days before expedition date or reservation
may be cancelled without refund.
Address:_____________________________________________________Zip______
Phone(s):___________________________Email______________________________
Date of birth_________________ Sex____
State of health__________________________________________________________
Physical disabilities______________________________________________________
Medications:

In case of emergency contact:_______________________________________________
At:_________________________________
Physician’s name and phone number__________________________________________
Are you a vegetarian____________
Other food preferences or intolerances_________________________________________

Will you be driving?_____ Flying?______

I/we ____________________________________________________________________Have read the Orca Project registration and release form and understand that if I/we do not notify the Orca Project within 45 days of my/our expedition date that I/we may forfeit my/our deposit (or reschedule for a later trip). Also, I/we hereby release Orca Project, its staff, agents, associates and representatives from any and all liability or claims resulting from loss of life or limb or property during my/our participation in the Orca Project. I/we understand that the Orca Project may use freely any photos, video or quotations of or
from me/us in its promotions and/or communications.

Names and date:______________________________________________date_________

Signatures/ date:________________________________________________________
Date signed___________
Legal guardian’s signature required if under 18

Return to: Randall Eaton, Orca Project, 5128 Ralph Ave., or send to: reaton@ eoni.com. Payment can be made via PayPal to: reaton@eoni.com.

Thank you and get ready for discovery and adventure in orcaland.
 

 
 
 
 
         
 
         
 
 

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