Anniversaries of tragedy are always with us, but this seems to be the season for them. A month ago we remembered the dead of wars, a week ago the Montreal massacre, two days ago John Lennon’s assassination, and today – almost unbelievably – the 31st anniversary of Corky’s capture and the beginning of her incredible journey.
For reasons unknown to us, Corky’s family, the A5 pod, makes a habit of visiting Johnstone Strait at this time of year, and sometimes roams southward into Georgia Strait. So it was on that fateful day, 31 years ago, when amidst a violent storm the family entered Pender Harbour to be surrounded by nets and torn apart. That the family survived at all is a testament to the tenacity with which orcas maintain their traditions. The remaining members included adult females from each of four matrilines. Over the succeeding years they’ve managed to rebuilt the family, so today, two generations away from capture, it is strong again. Change is obvious, however. In 1977 the oldest member, Corky’s grandmother A7 died, then in 1990, Eve (A9), then Saddle (A14) in 1991, earlier this year Corky’s mum Stripe (A23), then very recently the pod’s namesake Top Notch (A5) himself. That leaves Corky’s aunt Licka (A8) as the sole living member of the family Corky was born into. There are others in the larger community that Corky knew and who knew her, but of Corky’s closest family, there is now just one. Simply put, that means time is running out for Corky. Though the A5 pod lives on and will continue, Corky’s best chances of returning to a normal life in the ocean lie with her ability to renew known family ties. Our best hopes for understanding more about orcas and their society lie there also. A great and wonderful opportunity is being lost to us all, and the tragedy of Corky’s fate is reaffirmed every day she remains a captive.
As Corky enters her 32nd year within walls, we renew our commitment to her. We do not know where the key to Corky’s freedom lies hidden, but we will continue to seek it, and we invite you all to join our quest. Please check out how you can help Corky, write a letter, send a post card, make a phone call, talk to someone, or begin a new patch for Corky’s Freedom Banner… and please spend some of your time today thinking
about Corky and what may yet be. In so doing, you will be joining the circle of caring for Corky that already goes around our world many times. In that circle lies Corky’s best hope.
As ever, we extend our best wishes to you all.
Paul & Helena.