Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Killer whales at large
I'm sort of celebrating my return to print journalism today with a cover story on orcas for Seattle Weekly. It examines, among other thing, the impact of the recent endangered species listing for the Puget Sound's southern resident killer whales. As I report, that impact could reach as far as the hotly constested dams on the Snake River that are choking off the Columbia spring chinook runs.
Rereading the story, I realize that I neglected to point out one important aspect of the orcas' impact for people on the Wet Side of the mountains: whale watching has become a multi-million-dollar industry here. The whales probably mean more to the local economy than either the Seahawks or the Mariners. So their symbology is more than just skin deep.