By Carolyn Tamler
Wendy Sines, the Manager of the Langley Whale Center Manager, was pleased at the number of people who stopped by their new location at 115 Anthes Street during the grand opening on November 14. At their previous location next door, which opened a year ago, they had thousands of visitors in the first year and 3,500 followers on Facebook. Since the opening at their new, greatly expanded location, the number of visitors has been growing. Sines notes, “On an average Saturday, we are seeing 100 or more people stopping by.”
The new location provides more far more visibility and offers double the space for educational displays, information and a gift shop. They also have a lending library for books and DVD’s relating to Puget Sound whales.
The Langley Whale Center is a project of Orca Network, which is based in Freeland, Washington, and is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit started by Howard Garrett and his wife, Susan Berta, in the 1990’s. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats. Garrett says, "We're thrilled to have the Langley Whale Center to be able to meet people and engage them in learning about the whales and other marine mammals of the Salish Sea."
Orca Network is known throughout the world and has an international membership of over 150,000. Interest in whales has grown considerably in the last 40 years as peoples’ attitudes toward whale captivity has changed. The goal of Orca Network is to educate and spread information about the Orca whale populations. The organization also has a major focus on gaining the release of Lolita, who was captured in 1970, and has been on exhibit in Florida since that time.
The Langley Whale Center gives Orca Network a highly visible presence on the Salish Sea, home to two major Orca communities, the “South Resident community” which includes 82 whales, which has been considered endangered, and the “Transient Community,” which has 260 whales.
Along with exhibits about the Resident and Transient Orcas and local Gray whales, the Whale Center provides information about the other "Orca Ecotypes," and other cetaceans and marine mammals that live in the Salish Sea.
Specimens from Orca Network's Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding network are also on display including skulls and pelts from Harbor seals, skulls of sea lions and Elephant seals, Gray whale baleen bones, barnacles and whale lice. A huge Blue Whale jaw bone greets visitors at the Whale Center entrance (thanks to Mystic Sea Charters).
A major engine for the Langley Whale Center has been its loyal and consistent group of volunteers, about half of whom come from off Whidbey Island (including Issaquah, Carnation and Kirkland). Sines observes that volunteers are “Whale people who are passionate and dedicated.” The volunteers were responsible for making the move from the old to the new location in just one day.
Visit the Langley Whale Center in Downtown Langley. Regular hours are Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Orca Network and Langley Whale Center website: http://www.Orcanetwork.org/Main/index.php?categories_file=Langley%20Whale%20Center