Accident Claims Local Celebrity
Even though there were times when he was a royal pain to boaters and a safety risk to himself, he was a well know feature to the west coast of Vancouver Island. I am sure he will be sadly missed.
Tug Owner recalls orca's habit of 'goofing around'
Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist Published: Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Luna spent the last few hours of his life chasing sticks thrown into the water and hanging out with the crew of the 30-metre tugboat General Jackson.
The six-year-old orca acted like a stray dog, seeking out companionship whenever the tug arrived in Nootka Sound, said Barry Connerty of Great Northern Marine Towing of New Westminster, owner of the General Jackson.
The whale died at about 9 a.m. Friday when he was fatally wounded by the tug's propeller.
In the early morning, the tug, which was pulling a loaded barge, arrived in the sound to wait out bad weather off the coast.
"As soon as they get in there, (Luna) comes up and plays with them," Connerty said. "Since dawn, the whale had been around, playing by going through the tow line and everywhere else, just goofing around, right?"
The crew snapped pictures of Luna's antics -- the whale and the tugboat crew had a long-standing and friendly relationship, Connerty said.
"My guys go in to Mooyah Bay (near Gold River) all the time and as soon as the boat is there, the whale is right there beside them.
"He's not a nuisance, quite the opposite. They play with him. They play fetch -- they throw sticks and he brings them back."
Luna frequently "helped" the operators of boom boats to push logs into bundles, he said: "He'd go right beside the boom boat and boom the log."
Unlike fishboats, which have sensitive electronic equipment at risk, the tugboats are tough enough to withstand a little whale play, said Connerty.
The crew will miss Luna, he said.
"The comparison I heard is you get a dog that chases after cars, you know eventually he's probably going to get hit. Nobody means for it to happen and nobody wanted it to happen."
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006