A Tribute to Mike Layton, Retired Seattle P.I. Journalist, Who Was Instrumental in Ending Local Orca Captures (by Ralph Munro)

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

A tribute to journalist Mike Layton from former Washington Secretary of  State Ralph Munro.  Both individuals worked to secure the release of the last orcas caught in Puget Sound, and to prevent further capture attempts.  Mr. Munro continues to support the protection of the endangered orca population and was instrumental in developing the Whale Watch Park on San Juan Island.
The following was written by Mr. Munro, and shared by Orca Network:

“All of us who support orcas in the wild , lost a real friend this week. Journalist Mike Layton, formerly with the Seattle PI, died after a long illness.”

Photo courtesy Orca Network

“After Karen and I watched the horrific capture in the shallow waters of the Olympia harbor in 1976, we knew that we had to get the attention of the press. It was a Sunday night and every phone call to a news room went unanswered. Finally we reached Mike Layton at home. He was on his way to visit a sick relative and was very gruff with us as we explained what we had seen from our sailboat. We told him of Sea World herding the whales with explosives, seaplanes, etc. The screams and cries from the orcas as they were separated by the capture nets, the  attempts by the captors to chase us away, etc.
Mike Layton agreed to go over and ‘take a look’ before it got dark.  We went to bed that night, not knowing if he had taken the time to see the netted whales off of Gull Harbor or not.
We could not sleep that night. Both Karen and I tossed and turned, wondering how we could awaken the public to this tragedy that we had witnessed. About 4:30 am, I heard the Seattle PI deliveryman drive by our mailbox. So I got up and put on my bathrobe and walked to the paper box.
I pulled out the PI and the headlines jumped off the front page. Big black headlines, front page, above the fold.
Reporter Mike Layton (courtesy nwsource).

I took the newspaper back into the bedroom and told Karen, ‘We just won Round 1.  Mike Layton has written one hell of a good story”.

To make a long story short, after many similar articles in the press, court hearings in federal and state courts, legal cases argued by our Attorney General Slade Gorton himself, etc. the whales were released.  And that was the ‘LAST’ whale capture in America. And one of these same whales still makes frequent calls on Puget Sound and Hoods Canal to dine on seals (T14, “Pender”).

T 14 ("Pender") was released from capture and still swims free today.

Mike Layton was a friend that will long be remembered.”

Ralph Munro, long-time WA Secretary of State and friend of the whales

Olympia, WA

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Leave a Reply