I am so sick about this. I hope this post is coherent.
As a baby, Luna was more independent than most orca calves, and would wander away from his mother. The picture below was taken when Luna was very young.
source: Susan Berta, Orca Network
Maybe it’s not surprising that Luna eventually ended up separated from his pod. In July, 2001, Luna appeared alone in Nootka Sound. There were no other orcas in the Sound. Orcas are highly social animals, and as Luna grew, he sought companionship with people and with boats. While this sounds appealing, it’s dangerous for all involved. It’s also pitiful that the whale was reduced to seeking out boats for company:
Last week Luna made an appearance at the Gold River dock for the first time in some weeks. He followed the Uchuck III in from his familiar territory, and hung out at the dock for one night. While he was there he visited several of his favorite boats, including a dozer boat working among the logs and a tug he often follows out in Nootka Sound. The next day he found his way back to his territory, no doubt hitching a ride on another slow boat.
Many whales ride the wake behind boats. Luna engaged in this hobby, but got too close, and suffered injuries.
source: Mike Parfit, Orca Network
In spite of the danger, and in spite of his injuries, it was an activity he seemed to enjoy.
He had that rough wave just where he wanted it. He must have been sliding down its steep edge, using the energy of the boat to carry him along. Several times he showed just how easy this was by lifting his flukes right out of the churning water. Once I saw him slide slightly to the port side of the stern of the boat, and through a smooth rush of water I could see his head under the surface. His had his mouth open. Not just a little bit, either. It was open big, for all the world like a kid on a bike careening downhill, no hands, mouth open, yelling with joy or fear or a glorious combination of both.
Now it seems, that love has cost him his life. There are many questions that must be addressed, but I can’t think about that right now. For an account of his death, see here.