What happens when a wild baby killer whale tries to make friends with people - not for food, but for companionship? Should humans welcome him or turn away?
I watched an amazing movie last weekend called The Whale. It’s a true story of a young orca – a killer whale – who was nicknamed Luna, and who took people by surprise. Several years ago, when Luna was just a baby, he suddenly appeared all alone in a place called Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Luna got separated from its pod. In the movie they compare Luna’s situation to a child that’s meandering around a store, turns around and realizes that his family is nowhere in sight. "He is lost"!
Orcas are social. They normally spend their entire lives with their families, but Luna was lost. An orca that gets separated usually just fades away and dies. But that didn’t happen to Luna - he tried to make friends, but not just any friends – Human Friends! Luna hung around passing boat and on the shore, looking for attention. And many people welcomed him. But this contact did not turn out to be simple. Law and science told people to stay away. Yet the same social instincts that drove Luna to seek companionship also brought people to him, in spite of the law. I don’t know about you, but I would have risked my life getting arrested and dove in the frigid water to play with Luna…
As Luna got close to people, he became both treasured and feared. To natives he was the spirit of a chief. To boaters he was a goofy friend. To conservationists he was a cause. To scientists he was trouble. To officials he was a danger. As conflict and tragedy stained the waters, Luna became a symbol of the world's wildest beauty: easy to love, hard to save. The story of Luna is overwhelming.