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Grateful Dead fans cause a Ripple in local orca pod

Sep 25 2012

There's a direct link between Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and a oneyear-old killer whale often seen around Juan de Fuca Strait and Puget Sound.

Ripple is one of three young southern killer whales given names this week by The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor.

"Ripple's mother is Deadhead, who was named to honour Jerry Garcia, and Ripple is a Grateful Dead song," said Connie Domenach, The Whale Museum's orca adoption co-ordinator.

The choice of the name, which was decided by public voting, also had something to do with ripples in the water, Domenach said.

Ripple, also known as K-44, Jade (L-118) and Keta (L-117) were named after surviving for a year. Calves are not named in the first year as mortality can be as high as 50 per cent.

The aim of naming the whales is to promote the museum's adoption program, which raises funds for whale research and protection, and to help people understand the personalities and complex social relationships within the area's three pods, Domenach said.

"People who have adopted Deadhead are big Grateful Dead fans, so Ripple should be a popular name for everyone," she said.

So far this year only two calves have been born to the southern residents, but everyone is hoping for more, said Whale Museum director Jenny Atkinson. "It has been a really tough year for the whales."

In addition to the stillunexplained death of L-112 this year from blunt trauma, Raggedy, a 49-yearold female from K Pod, and Gaia, a 23-year-old male from L Pod, have not been seen recently. If they have died, it brings the population down to 84.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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